Small Groups!

CBW had 5 small groups to discuss “Race, Locality, and the Public Work of Basic Writing.”

Preparing and supporting students of color

We want to empower students & create a sense of agency in their lives;
There are tensions between expectations like end-of-term assessments (high stakes tests) and preparing and supporting students of color;
Why do these conversations exclude students? Why do we have these conversations without students at the table. How do we navigate this?
The group also shared grading practices (basic skills or inviting a conversation in the grade?);
The group discussed the difference between focusing on grammar and engaging in conversations about content.

Preparing and supporting faculty of color

The group discussed tokenism and the importance of avoiding it! (e.g. particularly when faculty of color are recruited for committee work and then don’t have time to publish and other do other work);
The group discussed teaching evaluations, (e.g. students commenting on “accents” as if all faculty don’t have an accent; that if a faculty member of color makes even 1 comment about race, that some students begin to make an issue out of it), so tenure and promotion committees need to be educated about issues like this;
Support: invite collaboration (in publishing, in teaching, etc.);
Support & mentoring: make tenure & promotion expectations clear.

Race and pedagogical practices

The group discussed My Writing Lab & how it’s become a stand-alone module;
CLASP (University of Washington)–professional development for teachers;
The relationship between curriculum & race & pedagogical practices;
The relationship of edited, standard American English and whiteness;
The position of the teacher in the classroom & giving race time and space in the class for conversation.

Basic Writing and Race Nationally and Locally

There was a discussion of the politics of remediation (who do we educate? When? Why?);
How do we address attacks on developmental education?
How do we address politicians and engage them in conversation?
How do we connect with other groups in order to make connections? (even outside of traditional academic groups?)
How do we use social media to raise the profile of basic writing?

Meeting challenges and attacks on basic writing programs:

The group discussed the Complete College America initiative;
Developmental courses have been dropped or outlawed in several states;
Their suggestions include a number of ideas that are exactly the work of basic writing;
Their goal is to end “traditional remediation”;
The group feels that the work attacks developmental programs (as a straw man for what’s wrong with education).

There was a discussion also about ways that we can appropriate the language of programs like Complete College American in order to get funding & recognition for our programs.

Another discussion followed the theme of how much “subversive complicity” is enough? Too much? How far do you go?

The group brainstormed ideas to address this:

Have WPA experts visit campus to discuss and evaluate basic writing programs (from our own colleagues);
NADE accreditation (National Association for Developmental Education);
Collect evidence (student success stories);
Accumulate statistics for success;
Advocacy within our own council. We need to be more like ATTW: we need to create awareness for CBW.

This group also wanted to talk about MOOCs, but ran out of time.

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1 Comment

Filed under CBW 2013, CCCC 2013, Politics of Remediation, Who is Basic Writing?

One response to “Small Groups!

  1. Heather Springer

    Great post! One misprint though: CLASP is a program from Washington State University and not UW. The Critical Literacies and Success Program supports non-traditional, first generation, and migrant worker college students by asking them to meet weekly with their composition instructor for about 12 weeks (of a 16 week semester). Students bring a “question of the week” which can be about anything from “what did YOU major in?” to “how can I write a stronger introduction?” to “what do you think of studying abroad?” The goal is to get students more comfortable with going to an instructor’s office and asking for help if they need it. Meanwhile, all composition instructors attend ongoing training in critical pedagogy. We’ve used Bonilla-Silva’s “Racism without Racists” as well as Claude Steele’s work on stereotype threat to help us interrogate our own teaching practices and move away from a deficit model of students in our classrooms.

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