Get to Know Our GTA Mentors: Colleen Correll

Hello Hokie Writers!

Happy first day of classes! We hope that your break was restful and that you’re excited to begin what is looking to be a busy yet fulfilling spring semester.

Throughout the first few weeks of class, HokiesWrite will feature interviews from our five current GTA mentors. These mentors teach composition at Virginia Tech and were chosen to mentor first-year graduate teaching assistants before they enter the classroom in the fall.

Our first featured mentor is Colleen Correll. Colleen received her MA in English from Virginia Tech in 2017.

Q: How many years have you taught at Virginia Tech?

A: This is my third year teaching as a full-time instructor; however, I also taught here as a GTA when earning my Master’s degree. 

Q: What’s it like teaching Hokies?

A: Rewarding – for two reasons! First, Hokies come to Virginia Tech ready to learn, even when your class is a required course. We have an opportunity to teach some of the brightest minds in the world every single day, which is a rewarding experience. Second, I find that being on campus helps me continue to feel close to my father, despite his passing. I find myself walking around campus some days remembering him telling me about his life on this campus back in the ’70s. Thus, teaching Hokies is in my blood you could say. My father taught me what it was like and what it means to be a Hokie, and now I, in turn, get to carry on the proud tradition of sharing my knowledge with as many Hokies as possible! – Ut Prosim

Q: What’s your most memorable teaching moment?

A: I know it was the Fall of 2016. I was still a GTA and extremely nervous at times in the classroom, especially when being observed. This was my first semester of teaching 1105; therefore, each time I was observed in the classroom, I was being observed based on untested lesson plans. I decided I was going to attempt classroom discussion based on multiple readings, which I was nervous about being able to carry through an entire class session; however, the class was a complete success. Every student had something to say about the readings. I could not keep them from sharing. We filled the chalkboard in the room; we made connections between the readings; we then applied these connections to our current writing project, etc. In other words, the class was a perfect class, the one you always wish for but never expect to actually achieve, and it just so happened our director at the time was in the room to watch this class unfold. I have never had another lesson, even the same one, go so perfectly since; therefore, I can never forget the one time I had just the right mix, on just the right day! 

Q: What made you want to be a mentor for English GTAs and what are you looking forward to most?

A: I wanted to become a mentor for English GTAs to give back to the department and to try something that will challenge me and my teaching. I believe having people observing me during every class will make me more conscientious in the classroom. I also believe that GTAs will introduce me to new styles of teaching and learning, which will only help me improve my student’s overall learning experience. What I am looking forward to most is helping facilitate moments like the one I described in the previous question and answer. I want to be part of the journey that leads to someone else’s most memorable teaching moment(s). 

Q: Can you give us a popular culture recommendation?

A: I have to be honest and say I spent a great deal of time watching shows with my family while on winter break; however, there is one that stands out that I have not seen overly discussed, as of yet – Messiah. I particularly enjoy the concept and question this show poses: how would modern society react to the supposed second coming of Jesus? The back and forth that takes place in the viewer’s mind, from episode to episode, and the questions the show raises among all viewers, regardless of religious background (or lack thereof), make this show an exceptional and must-see watch! (In my humble opinion, of course.) 

Q: What’s your #1 unpopular opinion?

A: In keeping with the theme of popular culture, I will simply say the Twilight Saga is underrated by too many people, both the novels and the films. 

Thanks for sharing your insights, Colleen! We’re excited to hear about your experiences as a GTA mentor.

Wishing you a wonderful start to the spring semester,

The Virginia Tech Composition Team