Tuesday, January 19, 2016
Popham, Neal, Schendel, and Huot state, in “Breaking Hierarchies,” that by “encouraging… [the incorporation of reflection] in a multitude of processes and forms, [WPAs] develop stronger writing programs for everyone involved… Administration and programs become contextually based, fluid, mutiplistic [sic], and dynamic” (28). The authors emphasize the importance of practice, reflection, collaboration, and theory working in tandem to improve writing programs (and pedagogy and student writing, etc.).
When the authors mentioned that they viewed simple conversation as a kind of collaborative reflection (20), it made me think about how often I make collaborative reflection an explicit part of my teaching and administrative practice. I think Ball State’s Writing Program does a good job of building in some required collaborative reflection with things like the practicum course for new TAs, Speaker Series meetings for professional development, and the Blackboard “community” page, but I also feel like I could/should be doing more things to better motivate myself to do frequent, informal reflection with my peers to improve my work even more.
I’ve taken steps on that this semester with Kelsie. We designed our 104 course together, we co-teach in each other’s classes on occasion, and we have scheduled bi-weekly meetings for check-ins and further planning. This collaboration will benefit my teaching, but what about my writing program work? I think I could have more frequent meetings with Mary, the other WP assistant director, to talk about our progress on projects and bounce ideas off of each other. I also think we could seek more informal feedback from people involved in the writing program—students, TAs, and faculty.
For both teaching and administration, I think I should be carrying a notebook of some sort and writing down my reflective thoughts so that they don’t just come and go with the wind, and are instead useful to me because they are documented. We kept a journal like this that all consultants could contribute to in the writing center at my former place of employment. They wrote questions (and answers), concerns, and ideas for improving what we were doing. I wonder now what’s something our writing program could be doing to encourage more of this ongoing, informal, collaborative reflection for the purpose of improving our program and our practice. Thoughts?