Terry Atkinson, East Carolina UniversityJohna Faulconer, East Carolina UniversityRobin Griffith, East Carolina UniversityMelissa Matusevich, East Carolina UniversityElizabeth Swaggerty, East Carolina UniversityColleen Fairbanks, University of North Carolina-Greensboro Erika Gray, University of North Carolina-GreensboroBeth Maloch, University of Texas-Austin Seth Parsons, George Mason University
Practicing What We Preach: Using Writers Workshop as a Model for Academic Writing
Good Afternoon. Im Terry Atkinson from East Carolina University and I would like to welcome you to this session titled, Practicing What We Preach: Using Writers Workshop as a Model for Academic Writing.1Purpose for the Session
You most likely wouldnt be here today if you didnt believe that writing for publication offers significant challenges for both novice and veteran scholars. This session emerged from the impact of an alternative session that took place last year at NRC. Last years presenters are here to recap that session for you, after which, four of my colleagues and I will share preliminary findings from our collective auto-ethnographic study describing how we originated and planned a faculty writing support group at East Carolina University based on a writers workshop model. Breakout sessions will follow allowing audience members to ask further questions and to discuss how the ideas presented might impact your own writing practice. Finally, Colleen Fairbanks will serve as our discussant after which future research will be suggested.Recap of Last Years NRC Session
Erika GraySeth ParsonsBut I Dont Want to Perish: Experienced Researchers Discuss the Intricacies of PublishingOur purposeto increase novice researchers understandings of publishing by listening to and interacting with experienced researchers
4Objectives of Last Years SessionTo discuss the role of publication in the research process (Darrell Morris)To demystify the editorial review process (Shelia Valencia)To offer insight into the elements reviewers use to evaluate submissions (Beth Maloch)
5Key AdviceCollaborate with colleagues. Persist; everyone gets rejected.Know the journal.Determine your most productive writing time.Be clear and have thorough definitions for all research terms.
6OutcomesAn overall sense of relief that even Dr. P. David Pearson has been rejectedEncouraged colleagues at ECU to form a writing group
I hate writing, but I love having written. -Dorothy Parker7Conception of the Group
I attended the session that Seth and Erika just described and I must admit that it had a huge impact on me. While I listened to Darrell, Sheila, and Beths presentations with great interest, it was Beths breakout session that posed a question that I simply had no answer for.
NRC AhaMalochs breakout session led to this important question:Why would you personally employ a writing practice that you know was non-productive for your own students?
After trading remarks with Beth about trying unsuccessfully to establish a productive writing rhythm by carving out one day a week to write, she asked me. (read ? on slide)With no viable answer to this question, I began to think.
9Soul Searching and Self ReflectionMalochs question continued to surface, leading me toExamine my prior publication recordIdentify my needsTake control of my research agendaRefine my research focusSet definite goalsCommit to writing more regularlyI looked back at my own publication record and realized that my large teaching load continued to result in writing about research projects that I was either 1) invited to join, or 2) simply fell intoI actually think that Beths question resulted in such a stark AHA that I was able to analyze this problem and make a plan to deal with it. I needed to (read slide)
Formulating a PlanNeeded support of colleaguesSought to serve as a mentor for other female colleaguesPlanned a one-semester experiment small group committed to daily writing Mutual benefit would result for all group membersKnowing that I am at my best when I collaborate with others, I formulated a plan that would not only involve my colleagues, but satisfy another goal of mine. Having recently examined the literature related to feminist pedagogy, I was intrigued by the notion that few women are mentored by women. In planning this group, I sought to propose a one semester experiment. I would ask junior faculty members to join a writing group and commit to writing daily. The perceived outcome was that everyone involved would benefit.
11Selecting Writing Group MembersSmall sizefour additional colleaguesMembers selected carefullyAll were untenured junior facultyAll had exhibited great self-confidence as individuals and as emerging scholarsAll had proven track records through prior collaborationenergy, commitment, effortAll chose to participate for one semesterChoosing group members was no small feat. Our department consists of approximately 80 full time faculty members. Thus, I selected group members with whom I was very familiar and with whom I had extensive experience. They(read 4 sub-phrases) should this all be in past tense?
12More Than Mere ColleaguesGroup membersnot only women, but my friendsDegree of trust and rapport intactIndividuals known to move beyond their own self-interestsAll had strengths that I did not possessAll had demonstrated sound judgment and exceptional initiative
Considering the fact that we agreed to write daily and meet weekly for only one semester, we had little time to build a relationship. For that reason, the members selected were chosen so that we could build on their many strengths. With a strong degree of trust and rapport intact, it was a huge advantage that they were.(read all 3)13Existing Trust and Belief in Group Members Led toone common commitmentdaily writingNo plan for the groupwriters workshop was used as a frameworkGuidelines and choices to be made by group membersEvolution of the group based on our needs So.after receiving talking to each prospective member face-to-face, I sent out a formal email invitation to all group members asking for one common commitment-daily writing. There was no preconceived plan in place. After our first meeting, we agreed to use writers workshop as a model and the meetings and group functions evolved based on our needs. Now, here to tell you more about our groups story, are four of my ECU colleagues who I would like to introduce you to at this time. Johna Faulconer, Melissa Matusevich, Robin Griffith, and our next presenter, Elizabeth Swaggerty.
14Sharing Our StoryRelated literatureMethodologyThemesTelementor supportCollective accomplishmentsBuilding a context for successLessons learned
To provide a context for sharing our story, well discuss the following points for the duration of the presentation: (read bullets).15Writers Workshop ApproachDaily writing is imperative for young writers. (Calkins, 1994, Graves, 1983)In order for the young writer to gain momentum, she must be given opportunities to spend time with the piece regularly.
In an effort to frame our Writers Group initiative, we turned to literature related to writers workshop for young writers, adult writing, professional learning communities, and women supporting women in academia.
We know that a writers workshop approach, which involves opportunities for daily writing, can be very effective for young writers.
16Adult WritingThe same is true for adult writers. Like athletes, writers need consistent, intense, and focused practice sessions, working to build their writing muscles with regular workouts. (Goldberg, 1986; Murray, 1990) Donald Murray (1990) Nulla dies sine linea. (p. 43).Parini (2005) A little work every day adds up. (p. B5)
The same can be said for adult writers. Don Murray shared this creed with many struggling readers Never a day without a line.
In "The Considerable Satisfaction of 2 Pages a Day" Jay Parini, writes about his own experiences with juggling the duties of teaching and writing. He offers practical advice: "A little work every day adds up. [. . .]Two pages a day adds up to a long book every year, even counting revisions" (B5).
Both Murray and Parini remind us of the importance of daily writing.
17Adult WritingWithin professional circles, women are often unsupportive of one another. (Chesler, 2001)The value of a professional learning community. (Palmer, 1998; Senge, Cambron-McCabe, Lucas, Smith, Dutton, & Kleiner, 2000) Potential of a professional learning community comprised of a group of women who support one another to gain more pleasure and productivity in their writing lives. (Grant, 2006, p. 483)
We know that there is value in professional learning communities. For example, there is potential for a community of writers to encourage and support one another. We also know that within professional circles, women can be unsupportive of one another. However, there is evidence of supportive professional learning communities comprised of women, in which women have reported gaining more pleasure and productivity in their writing lives. Barbara Grant has organized a week-long writing retreat for women academics twice a year in New Zealand since 1997. Most of the participants reported that attending the retreat has impacted their writing lives in meaningful ways, that it has impacted how they see themselves as academic writers and that the retreat contributed to their publication outputs.18MethodologyCollective autoethnography(Clandin & Connelly, 2000; Coles, 1989; Ellis, 2004)Data sourcesAutoethnography offered a lens for capturing the story that emerged as our academic writing group evolved. This allowed for an analysis of our behaviors, beliefs, perceptions, and attitudes to foreground our experience and narrate meaningmakin