The Department of Classics considers Teaching Fellowships an essential part of graduate training, and therefore all students must gain teaching experience as part of the fulfillment of the requirement for the M.Phil. degree. Teaching Fellowships provide graduate students in the Department of Classics and the interdepartmental Classical Studies Program (CLST) with opportunities for necessary practical experience under the training and sustained guidance of the department’s faculty, and they are the principal means by which the university provides financial support for graduate education. Moreover, Teaching Fellows benefit the department and Columbia as a whole, because they complement the instruction offered by faculty and enrich the educational experience of undergraduates. In sum, the goals of Teaching Fellowships are:

  • To provide graduate students with teaching experience both in courses taught by faculty and in their own courses;
  • To contribute to the department’s and the university’s educational programs;
  • To enhance contact and communication between the graduate and undergraduate constituencies of the department.

Criteria for the selection of teaching fellows and course assignments

In assigning teaching duties to graduate students, the Chair, the DGS, and Graduate Teaching Coordinator in conjunction with the DGS of Classical Studies strive to consider both the staffing requirements of the department and the goals and needs of each graduate student who will serve as a Teaching Fellow. Ideally, graduate students should have the opportunity to teach in more than one type of course (1st year language, 2nd year language, Latin, Greek, translation). Successful performance in and completion of the full-year graduate survey sequence (Greek/Latin GU4105-4106, Latin GU4105-4016) and of the prose composition course (Greek/Latin GU5139) are prerequisite for appointment as a Teaching Fellow who teaches her/his own language course.

guidelines For Teaching Fellows who Assist Faculty

First-year Teaching Fellows are assigned to courses in which they assist faculty. They are generally expected to attend class regularly and, as needed, take notes and perform other tasks that help the instructor do her/his job. Beyond this, the individual faculty member teaching the class determines the precise details of the duties to be undertaken. In general, Teaching Fellows should expect to do the following under the guidance of the faculty instructor:


Grade a significant portion of the homework, quizzes and examinations; grade papers (at the faculty member’s discretion).

Administrative Responsibilities

Teaching Fellows may also be asked to draft quizzes, examinations, and other assignments, to keep records of attendance and maintain the gradebook, to keep the Courseworks site up to date, and to prepare Powerpoint presentations and other materials used in class.

Office Hours

Teaching Fellows are expected to hold at least one regular office hour per week, so that they are available to answer students’ questions, and, in general, help those students who have difficulty keeping up with the class. (It is not appropriate, however, for Teaching Fellows to tutor undergraduates who fail to attend class, take quizzes or do their homework.) Teaching Fellows may also need to administer make-up quizzes and exams in their office hours, but the faculty member and the Teaching Fellow should establish in advance under what conditions this should be done.

Classroom Teaching

There is a great deal of variety in the kinds and amount of classroom teaching asked of first-year Teaching fellows. Common standards are therefore not easily prescribed, but in general the following guidelines apply:

  • Elementary Language Courses – In the elementary language courses, the faculty member is generally present at every class, but should provide opportunities for the Teaching Fellow to teach in front of the entire class in a gradual and continuous process. Individual faculty members will determine the frequency of teaching opportunities, but in general first-year teaching fellows might expect to teach for approximately 20 minutes in one class per week. As the semester progresses, Teaching Fellows may be asked, at the faculty member’s discretion, to teach for more extended periods, and to present more complex materials. The faculty member is expected to meet regularly with the Teaching Fellow outside class and offer guidance about how best to improve/develop teaching skills.
  • Intermediate Language Courses – In intermediate language courses that meet three days per week, it has been a common practice for the Teaching Fellow to conduct alone the third meeting of the class (generally on Fridays) as a review session at the instructor’s discretion. During this meeting, the Teaching Fellow goes over difficult passages and provides grammatical reviews. In some classes, the grammatical subject to be covered is assigned in advance, and students are asked to prepare exercises, which are then reviewed in class. Alternatively, the Teaching Fellow may be asked to continue the translation of the assigned text.  Courses that meet twice a week for two hours will entail variations of these practices. Only in the case of emergency should the Teaching Fellow be asked to cover an entire two-hour class on her/his own. 
  • Translation Courses – In translation classes (e.g. Classical Myth, Women in Antiquity, The Classical Tradition, etc.), the duties expected of Teaching Fellows will vary according to the nature of the specific course. It is expected, however, that Teaching Fellows will be fully integrated into the course activities. Teaching Fellows can be expected to grade exams and papers, to prepare materials for class, to hold discussion sessions, and to lecture on or present particular topics, all with faculty supervision.

guidelines For Teaching Fellows who Teach their own courses

Second- and third-year Teaching Fellows generally teach elementary and intermediate language courses under the supervision of the Graduate Teaching Coordinator and other faculty members. Besides the obvious responsibilities of conducting classes, being fully prepared, grading fairly and transparently, etc., the following should also be considered:

Syllabus Preparation

The syllabus should include a list of required and recommended texts, a description of objectives, requirements (e.g., attendance and participation), and policies, as well as an outline of readings and assignments discussion of assignments and other requirements (e.g. class attendance, policies), and a detailed description of how final grades will be computed. In elementary language courses, the Department requires all sections to use the same textbook. Multiple sections of the first-semester elementary courses must be coordinated so that they conclude with the same chapter, making it possible for students to switch sections as needed in the second semester. Instructors of intermediate language courses should follow departmental guidelines about the texts and authors that are to be taught in their courses.

Office Hours

All instructors are generally expected to hold two office hours a week.


Teaching Fellows should immediately seek the advice of the Graduate Teaching Coordinator (or Director of Graduate Studies or Department Chair or any other faculty member) if any problem, including difficulties with individual students, develops in the course. Teaching Fellows should familiarize themselves with the online Academic Difficulty Reporting (ADR) system and be prepared to contact the deans or advisers of students who are having difficulties in their courses. (Contact information for advising staff is available on Courseworks.) They are also encouraged to take advantage of the resources available in the university’s Center for Teaching and Learning in 212 Butler Library and on its website:

Faculty guidance and evaluation

For Teaching Fellows Who Assist Faculty

Faculty members should discuss before or at the beginning of the semester the class syllabus and the expected contributions of the Teaching Fellows to the class. The faculty member should arrange to observe the Teaching Fellow as she/he teaches, not only at the beginning of the course, but throughout the semester, as so as to be able to provide guidance and feedback. At the end of the semester, the faculty member should write an evaluation of the Teaching Fellow, which includes a review of all the Teaching Fellow’s contributions to the class: class lectures and presentations, grading, hand-outs and other special assignments, etc. This evaluation should be discussed with the Teaching Fellow before it is included in the graduate student’s file.

For Teaching Fellows Who Teach Their Own Courses

First-year Teaching Fellows, who are currently assisting faculty instructors, are encouraged to periodically observe elementary and intermediate language courses taught by second- and third-year Teaching Fellows, so that they can begin to develop early on an appreciation of different pedagogical approaches and get a sense of the kinds of situations that may arise in their own classrooms.

At the end of every spring semester, the Graduate Teaching Coordinator and the leaders of the Classics/CLST Team Teaching Pedagogy Colloquium organize a meeting for incoming and veteran Teaching Fellows. This meeting, in which a range of topics are covered, gives Teaching Fellows who are about to teach on their own for the first time in the coming fall the chance to learn from their more experienced peers. When possible, representatives from the Center for Teaching and Learning are invited to attend and share their expertise. Over the summer, Teaching Fellows are encouraged to share their syllabi with the Graduate Teaching Coordinator, their peers, and other faculty members, and the Graduate Teaching Coordinator is available in the week before classes begin for individual in-person meetings. 

In the first three weeks of the fall semester, the Graduate Teaching Coordinator informally observes Teaching Fellows who are teaching their own courses for the first time, just to make sure that things are running smoothly and to field any questions that the Teaching Fellow may have. In the middle of the semester, the Coordinator makes arrangements for the Teaching Fellows to be observed more formally by a member of the faculty; the graduate students in Classics are observed in three of the four semesters they teach, and graduate students in CLST, who usually teach two semesters of language, are observed in both of these semesters. Faculty observers are asked to meet with the TFs soon after the observation, to discuss what they have seen and heard, and to write a brief observation report that is shared with the Teaching Fellow and placed on file in the department. Students are encouraged to request these reports if they have not received them by the end of the semester in which they were observed. Evaluations by students are generally accessible to Teaching Fellows via Courseworks; these evaluations are also made available to the Director of Graduate Studies, the Chair, and the Graduate Teaching Coordinator, who will discuss the student evaluations as requested and needed with the Teaching Fellow.

The Coordinator is available throughout the semester for consultations about issues or problems that arise in or outside the classroom, as are other members of the faculty. The department encourages all Teaching Fellows to participate regularly in the meetings of the Team Teaching Pedagogy Colloquium, which is organized and run by graduate students in Classics and CLST, and to visit and consult with the staff of the Center for Teaching and Learning.

basic resources for teaching fellows

The Department of Classics designates a faculty member who serves as the Graduate Teaching Coordinator and is available to give guidance to all Teaching Fellows, especially those who are teaching their own courses in their second and third years as Teaching Fellows. Early in their time at Columbia, Teaching Fellows are encouraged to visit the Center for Teaching and Learning, located in 212 Butler Library (, and to avail themselves of the many support and professional development resources offered by the Center. Teaching Fellows are also encouraged to participate regularly in the meetings of the Team Teaching Pedagogy Colloquium, which is organized and run by graduate students in Classics and CLST, to take advantage of the many classroom resources in the Dropbox folder maintained by Teaching Fellows, and to familiarize themselves with publications on pedagogy, such as Anne Curzan and Lisa Damour’s First Day to Final Grade (2nd edition, 2006, University of Michigan Press.)


These guidelines are intended to provide general information and do not cover every contingency. Students are encouraged to seek the advice and counsel of faculty members, and to bring to the attention of their representatives more general issues, which ought to be considered by the faculty as a whole. Any grievances should be resolved first by bringing them to the attention of the Graduate Teaching Coordinator. If they cannot be resolved at this stage they can be brought to the DGS or the Chair of the Department and, if necessary, to the Assistant Dean of Academic and Student Affairs at the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.