Attending a national conference is always exciting. I’m a bit of a professional development junkie so I tend to sit through too many sessions and take too many notes. I often return home exhausted and overloaded with new ideas, but this year my experience at the Conference on College Composition and Communication (CCCC) was different. I had a game plan, a narrower focus of topics that drew me, and even though I was tempted by all the interesting presentation titles in the 368-page program (no exaggeration), I stuck to my game plan. Here is a brief overview of the takeaways that I hope to elaborate on in a series of new posts over the next couple of months.
I am privileged to work in communities that value teaching, both locally and nationally. My colleagues inspire me with their dedication to providing quality instruction in innovative ways in spite of the lack of support composition programs tend to suffer from. As I moved in and out of conversations throughout the week, I heard so many stories of teachers and administrators who were developing new curricula and conducting research while balancing heavy teaching loads.
Students Matter. This is important to me. I have three kids of my own, one of which is a college student, so it seriously ruffles my feathers when I read things like The Coddling of the American Mind, arguments that suggest today’s students are distracted, lethargic, and/or overly-vulnerable. Rather than wallow in nostalgia trying to adapt anachronistic instruction methods, the field of Writing Studies is ripe with research that is often ahead of other disciplines with regard to reaching students where they are while maintaining a high level of rigor.
Networking is Powerful. I’ve been working for nearly a year and a half on researching and reflecting on best practices around online writing instruction (OWI). I piloted a hybrid first-year writing course last summer, and the experience left me with more doubts and questions than I started with. I frequented every workshop, special interest group, and presentation at CCCC that had anything to do with OWI. I discovered a dynamic group of experts who welcomed any and all newbies into their fold. I now have a stack of business cards, list of online forums, and connections on social media that I can reach out to as I design my hybrid course for this summer.
More on these points and other ideas coming soon!