One challenge a seminar like this faces has to do with follow-through, with keeping the conversation going once we stop meeting together in the same room. Teaching at the university level can often feel oddly isolating; you meet with your students regularly, but often have far fewer chances to talk with your colleagues about the work you’re doing in the classroom (or as a writer).
We’ve planned a couple of ways to forestall this possible sense of isolation over the next few months. Most important, I encourage you to sit in on classes taught by your friends and colleagues, and to encourage them to visit yours. As part of your Fellowship, you are also asked to attend a series of informal, monthly meetings during the fall to discuss the work you are doing in your writing classes. I will join you for the fourth and last of these meetings in December.
I’d also like to use this website as a way of staying connected. Specifically, I will ask four of five of you to write a brief post (perhaps 500 words) on this site a few days before each one of your first three fall meetings. The rest of the group will then have an evening or two to read and write some comments on those posts. (I will comment as well.) You can then use this online discussion as a springboard for your face-to face conversation.
I almost always find it easiest to write in response to a specific event or text. (Perhaps that is why I became an academic.) I’d thus encourage you to think about writing a post in response to:
- A student comment or exchange from one of your classes that strikes you as particularly intriguing, funny, or troubling;
- A text (student or professional) that prompted a lively conversation in class;
- A piece about teaching you find insightful or provoking;
- A question about a difficult moment in teaching;
- A link to an assignment, handout, or other teaching text you’d like to share;
- Notices about upcoming talks, events, or conferences;
- Anything else you think might interest this group.
While I hope that each of you will post at least once to this site during the fall semester, I also invite you to publish other posts if and when you’re able to. Please consider this site as a space to exchange your thoughts and questions on teaching writing.
I also hope you will feel free to contact me in whatever way works for you: text message, email, Twitter. I will be glad to hear from you, and to offer you whatever advice or support that I can. Let’s try to keep this conversation going!