An Interview with Rachel Pitcher


Rachel Pitcher is a first-year graduate student in the English department. She is currently working in the Graduate Teaching Assistantship program. As part of the program, Rachel teaches one section of CORE 101 this semester and will teach one section of CORE 102 next semester under the guide of a mentor teacher. We recently had the chance to sit down with Rachel and discuss a bit about where she is from, what brought her to Radford University, and what her experience in the GTA program has been like.

            Rachel is from Princeton, West Virginia. She attended Concord University for her undergraduate degree where she initially pursued Spanish education before the program was cut. She then finished her coursework and received her degree in her new dual major of English literature and English education. Rachel said that the cost of education was a big factor in where she went for her graduate degree and that she appreciated the tuition remission that the GTA program provides. “It’s always been a big deal to me to have everything paid for. That’s one of the reasons that this program was so big for me. My tuition is out-of-state, and it’s paid for through the program. That was a big thing for me because it’s allowed me to keep myself sort of financially stable.” In her spare time, Rachel reads, watches television and movies, and enjoys spending time with her dog and playing golf.

            Rachel said that her main focus in the classroom is forming connections with her students. “It’s been a big thing for me even when I was teaching middle school and high school to greet students as they’re coming in the door and know their names and something about them. It creates a connection where we don’t have to just talk about academic stuff. It creates a more open classroom environment.” She also says that she focuses on allowing the students to lead the conversation in class and express their opinions and their ideas. It allows them a fair amount of control in the work that they are doing while still covering the expected academic outcomes of the CORE curriculum.

            When asked about what sets her classes apart, Rachel had this to say. “One of the things that we’re working on is practicing the things we’re learning in class so that they can get immediate feedback. It’s something that is focused on in math but not with writing and that is a point I really want to get to in my classroom.” Rachel wants to make sure that students have the time in class to practice what they have learned so that they are better prepared for not only their homework but for their future classes.

            Finally, Rachel stated that she feels her greatest strength in teaching is “Rapport with students. I’m not afraid to have fun with my students. There are times where we need to be serious but when students open up more, they have a lot more to offer than they think.”