I am a writing teacher and writing program administrator, which means that I am teaching writing—and thinking about the teaching of writing—even if writing isn’t the main subject of my class. I design learner-centered environments in which students explore what it means to be scholars-in-process, in which they share in the responsibility for their intellectual development, and in which we work together to change the expectations for undergraduate learning. From first-year writing courses to senior-level rhetorical theory seminars, my classes focus on writing as a noun and a verb; that is, I want students to gain declarative knowledge about how writing works (relying on theoretical and research-based evidence) and procedural knowledge about their reading and writing practices (what you can do and how you can do it).
My interest in helping students develop into scholars demands I design authentic writing assignments. I must also be present, which, given our content, means doing more than lecturing or providing course notes. I must be willing to work with them in class and one-on-one as their projects take shape. I must, and will, encourage them to publish exceptional and innovative work through national and local venues or to participate in professional development opportunities. I approach my work this way because I believe that learning should not be a private or solitary matter. Knowledge is meant to be shared. Through students’ publications and research contributions, I learn from them. I don’t expect all my students to do all of these things, but I do want to step aside a little each semester and help them find a passion for learning and their place in the university.
I also expect students to take responsibility for their own learning, and this includes asking them to do research about topics they are interested in and even asking them to honestly reflect on their performance (often in the form of a Self-Assessment Letters or Letters of Transmittal).
I am not here to transfer what I know about writing, rhetoric, literacy studies, and research to students simply so they can give it back to me. Instead, I want to work with my students to make new knowledge, to see what answers we might find to these questions. Together. As collaborators.