Working as a Lector in Academic and Professional Writing

A Lector is a graduate student who provides writing instruction in ENGL 13000/33000: Academic and Professional Writing—a.k.a. the “Little Red Schoolhouse,” our flagship advanced writing course for upper-year undergraduates and graduate students.

Who is eligible to lector?

Graduate students from ALL divisions and schools are eligible — and eagerly sought — for this position. Here’s why: LRS is geared toward 3rd- and 4th-year undergraduates of ALL major fields with a variety of professional goals, as well as graduate students in all divisions and professional schools. And the course attracts all of them, quarter after quarter. Our goal is to give all writers the principles of clear, reader-oriented writing that they can use in whatever fields they pursue. LRS small-group seminars, which are led by lectors, typically include students from a wide variety of fields (from philosophy to econ to bio to math) by design, because we believe this actually serves our pedagogical goals best. We’ve had lectors from Divinity, Anthropology, Comparative Human Development, Chemistry, all with great success.

What do lectors do?

Lectors meet with approximately 7 students once a week in an 80-minute discussion section, or “seminar." LRS students write a short paper each week, read each other’s work, and discuss them in the seminar. Lectors read the students' papers, lead the seminar discussion, and write extensive critiques on the papers each week to reinforce the writing principles at work. First-time lectors also attend the weekly lecture that the students attend.

All Lectors start out leading seminars at the undergraduate level. Once they have had success there, they become eligible for to teach in the graduate sections of LRS. Lectors may also teach writing to first-years as a Humanities Writing Intern without taking an additional training course.

The LRS approach to writing is “reader-based,” which means that we teach students how to anticipate readers’ responses to their prose and how to tailor their prose to meet readers’ expectations--specifically, the academic and professional readers that they’ll be addressing in academia or in their chosen professions. To do this, we teach principles of clear writing that build upon one another: we start with clear sentences, move on to paragraphs, and conclude at the level of the text as a whole.

When and how often do lectors work? How much are they paid?

Lectors are appointed quarterly, and LRS is offered every quarter of the academic year. In Winter and Spring, the course is offered for both graduates and undergraduates, so more sections are available. In Summer, fewer sections are offered, and in Autumn, only graduate students may register, which also reduces the number of available sections. Since trained lectors are eligible to work as Writing Interns, we encourage them to consider doing so in the Autumn, when there are fewer LRS sections but many Humanities Core sections available.

Once you've been accepted and completed training, your position will be renewable indefinitely pending satisfactory job performance, as well as pending section availability. We send out a work survey before each academic quarter asking if you are available to teach, until you tell us otherwise.

Lectors receive $3,000 per section. Some advanced PhD students may be eligible for a higher salary as determined by their Dean of Students office.

What kind of training is required?

One quarter of training in ENGL 50300: Principles of Teaching Writing, offered each Autumn quarter as a 10-week course that typically meets on Monday afternoons for both a small-group discussion and plenary lecture. The training course is unpaid, but trainees may choose to either take it for credit or to take it unofficially so as to avoid tuition charges, depending on their funding status.