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 often, but have far fewer chances to talk with your colleagues about the work you’re doing in the classroom.
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, and also give a public talk.
We would also like to use this website as a way of staying connected. Specifically, we will ask several of you to write a brief post (perhaps 500 words) on this blog before each of your first three fall meetings, and then for the rest of the group to comment on those posts. (I will comment as well.)
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 blogging in response to:
- A student comment or exchange from one of your classes that struck you as intriguing, funny, or troubling;
- A text that prompted a lively conversation in class;
- A piece about teaching that you find insightful or provoking;
- A question about a difficult moment in teaching;
- A link to an assignment, handout, or other teaching text that you’d like to share;
- Notices about upcoming talks, events, or conferences;
- Anything else you think might interest this group.
While we expect you to post at least once to this blog during the fall semester, we of course also invite you to publish other posts as well. Please consider this 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. It’s been a terrific week. Let’s try to keep this conversation going!