Yesterday, we held our annual CBW Pre-Conference Workshop from 9am-5pm in Kansas City Missouri at the 2018 Conference on College Composition and Communication. Our focus for this workshop was Reconsidering Graduate Education and Teacher Training in Basic Writing Contexts.
Our keynote speaker, Karen Uehling focused on her successful graduate class ENGL 540 at Boise State University. A hybrid course, partially online and partially on campus on Saturdays, this class covers content that appeals to teachers of developmental writing. It’s one of the very few courses within a graduate program in the United States with this type of focus. Uehling generously shared her one-pager on the course and her latest syllabus. We paused the workshop at 10:00am in honor of the National Student Walkout to protest gun violence. After her keynote workshop participants shared how they became basic writing teachers through a brief writing exercise.
Our second session was presented by Lynn Reid from
Fairleigh Dickinson University and focused on Social Justice in the Basic Writing classroom. After a brief review of the 2008 CBW Statement on Social Justice, Lynn handed out a list of scenarios in student behavior that teachers might face in the classroom. She elicited discussion about why students might behave in these ways and discussed how to communicate to new faculty and graduate students that while some student behavior might seem like students don’t care about the course that there could be underlying issues at hand ranging from students in Basic Writing courses having deeply complicated lives to students having mental health concerns. Many participants were eager for more information about how to best support students through classroom policies and assignment flexibility.
After lunch we reconvened and heard about Faculty Professional Development in ALP from Bob Miller of the Community College of Baltimore County. Bob described the genesis of ALP (Accelerated Learning Program) at CCBC, the close and small group of faculty who had initiated the program and the struggles with faculty development as CCBC attempted to scale the model. Miller suggested that successful faculty development involves faculty ownership of the professional development experience rather than a mandated top down experience— and food. Food always helps.
Next, we had a workshop on Sponsoring Revision in the Basic Writing classroom presented by Lynn Reid and Jack Morales from the Community College of Allegheny County. Lynn and Jack discussed the idea of a multi-faceted single paper that grows and expands through a revision process within the course of a 15 week semester. Workshop participants were put into groups and asked to do a variety of things include: drafting a memo to all faculty about how to provide feedback for revisions and creating a PR kit to help explain to faculty outside an English department about why and how this model would effectively teach students to write.
One of the most intriguing workshops of the day was offered by Darin Jensen (DesMoines Area Community Colllege) and Christie Toth (University of Utah) on Reimagining Graduate Preparation for Teaching Basic Writing in the Two –Year College. They shared details from their recent TETYC article which demonstrates how woefully underprepared new faculty are for teaching Basic Writing. Indeed, there are less than 24 programs that offer any preparation for teaching Basic Writing. Toth eloquently noted “the fact that graduate programs refuse to acknowledge the existence of two year college students is functionally classist and racist.” After their presentation workshop participants discussed their own narratives of teacher preparation and discussed what they thought two year colleges teachers would need to know in order to be successful faculty at community colleges.
Our final workshop of the afternoon investigated a draft of the CBW’s “Position Statement on Basic Writing” facilitated by Bill Lalicker from West Chester University and Wendy Olson at Washington State University. While there was a presentation/workshop scheduled, as English teachers once someone says “revise,” that goes out the window. Bill and Wendy managed the collaborative full workshop revisions with finesse and there are plans to circulate the document to CBW membership in the very near future.
All in all, the workshop was a wonderful day spent with colleagues from diverse institutions with a range of specialties. If you couldn’t join us in Kansas City, we do hope that you’ll consider joining us next year in Pittsburgh, PA! Watch this space for more information and exciting directions for CBW.