Instructor Interview: Christine Steele

What course(s) do you teach in the UCSD Extension Copyediting Certificate program? 

I teach Copyediting I and Copyediting II every quarter and The Business of Copyediting in winter and summer.

How long have you been teaching there?

I started teaching in the spring quarter of 2019.

How did you get involved in the program?

I’ve known about the program for years because UCSD Extension is a sponsor each year for the ACES conferences. I would always visit their vendor table and chat with the representative, who was often the program manager. It was nice to catch up with them every year, and each time they would ask me if I would consider teaching. I always said no because I was too busy, and I also thought I might not be good at teaching (cue in the imposter syndrome feelings!). In 2018, I was looking to make some career changes, so I decided to get out of my comfort zone and contacted the program manager. I was hired right away, but I took the Grammar Lab class in the program first so I could learn how the online classes worked. Then I started teaching soon after.

What is your goal for your students in your course(s)?

My goal is for students, even those who do not want to be a copyeditor, to feel more confident in their abilities to apply what they are learning and be able to think more independently. Copyediting is about making choices and uses a lot of judgment. It’s easy to second guess ourselves and imposter syndrome can also creep in. But if we continue to read and educate ourselves about the language, we continue to fill our mind’s toolbox and are in a better position to make edits and recommend other changes—with the reader in mind, of course. I share additional resources, when applicable, and encourage students as much as I can to help toward this goal.

What kind of feedback have you received and successes have you seen from your students?

This is what makes teaching rewarding. Since I teach three courses, I often have repeat students and it’s wonderful to see how they evolve. Students have shared that they benefited significantly from my feedback on coursework, as well as summaries of discussion points, and they would not have gained so much from the courses had it not been for that. After the courses, some have emailed me to report they received their first internship with a publishing group, first paid client, were accepted to another school program they are passionate about (they used me as a reference), and that they learned so much overall and thoroughly enjoyed the classes. That’s pretty great!

What do you enjoy most about teaching in the program?

I’m such a language-loving word nerd. I love being immersed in the topic of copyediting and having great discussions about language with students every quarter. It never gets old! I also learn from them, as many are working editors or have different experience with authors than I do. Students are also from all over the globe, so I get to hear perspectives I would not have had access to before. It’s enlightening and informative to hear about language in other countries. In the past two years, students in my courses have logged in from Japan, Paraguay, Pakistan, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Brazil, Singapore, Germany, Jerusalem, and, of course, all across the U.S.

What advice do you give students in your course who want to build a copyediting career or business?

Do everything you can to educate yourself. Continue to read, study, take language quizzes, attend workshops/conferences—fill your mind’s toolbox. I use that phrase all the time in my classes. There’s so much for us to learn, and language and guidelines change. The more we learn and stay on top of these changes, the more confident we can feel about the editing decisions we need to make. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. And most importantly, don’t be hard on yourself for not remembering every rule or finding every error. The Copyeditor’s Handbook (Einsohn and Schwartz) says that 95% accuracy is the best a human can do. We aren’t expected to know all the stylebook rules, but we are expected to know where to look them up. Copyediting is lifelong learning. Every editing assignment you have is good practice for the next one.

What else would you like to share with potential students about the value of the program?

I believe the value of this program is huge. You gain knowledge on numerous topics that you can apply in your personal or professional life, even if you don’t want to pursue copyediting. You will refresh your grammar and punctuation skills; learn tips for mastering Microsoft Word; gain strategies for communicating clearly, succinctly, and professionally with authors and writers via queries/comments; and receive resource lists to help you in a few different areas, including career information and personal goal setting to guide you toward your next step in the field. And imagine being able to learn alongside others across the globe. Students are also a resource for each other and a great source of encouragement.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *