Get to Know Our GTA Mentors: Amanda McGlone

Hello Hokie Writers!

We hope that you’ve had a good first week back on campus! Virginia Tech is alive with energy and excitement thanks in part to our students returning to campus and our women’s and men’s basketball teams winning against the Boston College Eagles and the North Carolina Tarheels, respectively. Go Hokies!

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 second Composition Mentor Spotlight is on Amanda McGlone. Amanda graduated with her Master’s from Virginia Tech in 2016.

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

A: This is my 4th year teaching at Virginia Tech as a full-time instructor. I also taught 1105 and 1106 for 1.5 years as a graduate student in the VT Masters program.

Q: What’s it like teaching Hokies?

A: Teaching Hokies means working with students who are hopeful for a better future. I encourage students in my courses to think about research as progress–progressing our understanding of each other, society, and the world–and Hokies are up for that challenge in ways that make me more hopeful. I sincerely believe myself to be a more empathetic and caring person in having taught students at Virginia Tech over these past 4 years. Sometimes I think they teach me more than I teach them. 

Q: What’s your most memorable teaching moment?

A: Many moments stick with me, but this one I’ve used as an example in every class since. I talk with my students about avoiding panic by improvising and, when appropriate, laughing with the audience when they inevitably “mess up” during presentations. One semester, a student on the quieter side had a technical issue with a clip he hoped to play during a rhetorical analysis powerpoint. Without missing a beat, he began to act out the commercial, using all of the available space at the front of the room to show how the actresses walked down the runway. He didn’t panic; he perfectly improvised. I’ve always remembered that moment. 

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

A: I know how daunting of an experience it is to teach a first-year writing class for the first time, especially for those, like me, who manage anxiety disorders or other personal circumstances that might make their time in the classroom difficult. I also know how isolating of an experience being in grad school can be generally. It can feel like everyone is more competent, more ready, more qualified. I wanted to work with GTAs to chip away at those worries and to help my mentees feel more prepared (or rather, to know that not feeling prepared is how we all feel, regardless of perceived “competency”). There’s something freeing about realizing we’re all equally insecure and doing the best that we can for our students and for ourselves. As for what I’m most looking forward to, it would be working with my mentees on their lesson plans for my class this semester. They bring a fresh perspective to my coursework; I’m excited to learn from them. 

Q: Can you give us a popular culture recommendation?

My pop culture recommendation might be a familiar one to many. I want to recommend Bon Appetit’s YouTube channel, specifically the “Gourmet Makes” series with Claire Saffitz. In watching and rewatching this series, I’ve realized just how much a pastry chef trying to recreate popular snack foods mimics a collaborate, recursive, even scientific writing process. I plan to show my students the ramen episode this semester. 

Q: What’s your #1 unpopular opinion?

A: A hill I would die on: Marvel movies are not good storytelling. 

Wishing you a restorative weekend and a calm second week of classes,

The Virginia Tech Composition Team