They require determination and a question to begin, resilience and curiosity to continue, and a vision of the destination. There will be surprises along the way, and the experience can feel as overwhelming and intimidating as it is exciting. In ENC 1102, students will embark upon such a journey. As a teacher, my aim is to come alongside students as a guide and fellow adventurer, equip them with the tools they will need to overcome the obstacles along the way, and offer the map—in the form of purposeful course design—that will lead them to their final destination and targeted outcomes with a sense of accomplishment and evidence of personal growth.
Passion and Purpose
One of my primary goals is to encourage students to see themselves as writers and researchers with something of value to learn and to offer. The practice of authentic and purposeful writing tasks, alongside the exploration of writing as a discipline with a contextualizing body of knowledge, transforms our composition classroom into a space where students actively participate in the scholarship of the discipline. Simply put, their work matters.
The best writers are not those who “get it right.” The best writers have passion. They understand that their words have purpose and meaning. They seek to do their best and to continue learning so that their writing can make a difference.
Students will be encouraged to approach writing and research as an adventure by which they may discover more about themselves and the communities they inhabit. They will confidently speak for themselves and in conversation with the existing and developing community of writing researchers.
My composition classroom will encourage creativity and curiosity as integral to the writing and research experience.
By creating the spaces and the suitable environment for my students to say what they have to say in the way that only they can express, the composition classroom can transform boundaries into opportunities rather than barriers. Rather than reshape our students to fit a certain image of a writer, I want to help them imagine the best writers that they can be.
By studying discourse communities, students gain access to the threshold concepts that writing is situated and social and also rooted in genre and identity.
I have chosen to structure the class around the theoretical framework of discourse communities. Through their research, students will formulate a research question and investigate how a particular discourse community enacts literacy among its members. Students will have the freedom within the framework to consider conventions of genre such as rhetorical moves, the texts that the community creates (and how they are created), and/or the languages common to the discourse community. Furthermore, when students research a community they care about they gain a personal investment in their work.
Power in Process
My pedagogy values the writing process itself. By means of reflective tasks assigned throughout the semester, students are prompted to observe how writing and research work for them as well as for others. As a class we will ask questions such as:
What are we doing? Why are we doing it? How might we have done this differently?
Young writers often experience frustration when the first written product does not match their original vision. Revision is central to the writing process, and my courses intentionally integrate the instruction and the practice of revision. Students will practice how to read the work of other writers and learn to read their own drafts with a growth mindset. Teaching revision and process can have transformational impacts on students’ attitudes and overall approaches to their writing. I draw on my experiences in the creative writing classroom to inform and recast the importance of and approaches to revision. Rather than hunting for error, students will embrace revision as an opportunity to “see anew” and move towards ever clearer and creative thinking and expression.
Only The Beginning
The writing journey does not start when my students enter the composition classroom. Neither will it end when the semester is over. The journey of writing is an ongoing experience. When students arrive at the course destination—the completion of the Scholarly Article and the Final Portfolio reflection—the student-writer should be able to see and think and observe far more than they could when they set out. The questions and process set into motion during their writing and research should carry them beyond their ENC 1102 project to continued growth and inquiry. The adventure is just beginning.
As a teacher, I hope to instill these desires and questions in my classroom, to help my students become the readers, writers, thinkers, students, workers, friends, neighbors, workers, leaders, citizens – the overall people – they wish to become. Students will leave my class with a portfolio of writing studies research that demonstrates their growth and genuine inquiry, an arsenal of questions and strategies to approach a future full of diverse writing tasks, and a vision for the purpose that writing plays in their lives and how they can use that to make a difference, wherever their paths may lead. I believe students may walk away from their composition experience confident that they are not only better and more purposeful writers but that with writing they can do anything.