Composition Program Professional Development Workshops, Spring 2021

by Emily R C Staudt, with the Composition Administrative Staff

The Composition administration team has been busy this year providing professional development opportunities for faculty teaching in the program, with help from faculty and external experts. We want to feature some of that work here and point to resources available for those who may have missed the live events.

graphic for Combatting Raciolinguistic Discrimination in the Academy and Workplace

Linguistic Justice & Multilingualism

Anna Habib and a small team (Hollie Villanueva, James Savage, Paul Michiels, Liz Paul, and Hyunyoung Cho from the GMU-K campus) participated in a Faculty Learning Community in AY 2019-2020. During that FLC, they developed materials and assignments focused on language noticing pedagogies, which they presented as virtual workshops in Fall 2020 and Spring 2021. This FLC and antiracist scholarship in writing studies spurred conversations about linguistic justice, resulting in a reading group for faculty interested in exploring how to apply anti-racist and linguistic justice frameworks in their comp courses.

Habib, Esther Namubiru, and Courtney Adams Wooten coordinated this reading group in Fall 2020, and participants included Paul Haspel, Lourdes Fernandez, Courtney Massie, Laurie Miller, Parker O’Connor, Deborah Sanchez, Cathy Saunders, James Savage, and Sarah Johnson—who also completed her dissertation related to Standard American English. Wooten said that this reading group “provided an opportunity for faculty to take up linguistic justice scholarship and to collaboratively explore how that scholarship could shape our approaches to teaching in general and to teaching writing in particular.” A list of antiracist readings and resources is available on the Composition WordPress site, available to all faculty in the program.

Graphic from A Conversation with Asao Inoue

Habib and Namubiru began hosting a podcast, Slow Agency, on Connecting Writing Centers across Borders, a blog of WLN: a journal of writing center scholarship. This season's episodes include conversations with Asao Inoue, Genie Giamo, Elizabeth Kleinfeld, Bob Yagelski and Laura Greenfield. 

And on April 1, Habib and Wooten facilitated “Combatting Raciolinguistic Discrimination in the Academy and Workplace.” The event featured scholars from Mason and other institutions in modern and classical languages, writing studies, and industrial and organizational psychology to share work about the intersections of racial and linguistic discrimination, particularly as these types of discrimination occur in educational and workplace contexts. Audience members were invited to dialogue about these issues with the panel presenters and to consider how this discussion can inform their scholarship and work with students. 

Photo by Los Muertos Crew from Pexels

Hybrid Task Force 

The Hybrid Task Force met in fall 2019 to develop teaching resources for hybrid courses and to better understand the needs of faculty in the program. The task force developed a lit review, teaching resources, and an IRB protocol to interview faculty teaching hybrids. In Spring 2020, members of the task force conducted interviews with fourteen faculty; in June 2020, some members of the taskforce began coding interviews. Since then, the task force has developed additional teaching resources, two reports for the program, and presented at ITL; the team continues to work on a variety of articles and resources. 

The task force was originally comprised of Lourdes Fernandez, Jessie Matthews, Ariel Goldenthal, Kerry Folan, Brian Fitzpatrick, Sheri Sorvillo, and Brandon Biller, with members focusing on what they like (some teaching resources, some research, some a bit of everything). Fernandez ran the group and coordinated the research study. Wooten is now involved as the data analysis has moved towards conferences and articles, and as she receives reports and implements some of the recommendations. 

Image by Alexandra_Koch from Pixabay

The interview data has already yielded good insights for the program. Based on faculty descriptions of feedback strategies, the program coordinated a Low-Stakes Feedback Strategies Workshop in Fall 2020.  Tawnya Azar, Katherine Miscavige, and Carlos Chism shared their expertise and some of the strategies they use to provide feedback across learning modalities. In early Spring, Lisa Lister, with Ariel Goldenthal and Kerry Folan, focused on sequencing hybrids and teaching virtual synchronous courses. The idea of these short, focused interventions came from the interviews with faculty who teach hybrid courses and said they would benefit from smaller-stakes, easier to attend, informal workshops, rather than more complex professional development. An additional workshop will be conducted in May 2021, where Ariel Goldenthal and Kerry Folan will engage with faculty as they plan for sequencing, deadlines, and placement of scaffolding activities in a hybrid format.

As with the Linguistic Justice & Multilingualism professional development offerings, these workshops were held online due to the university’s COVID restrictions.  Recordings are available on the WordPress site (see “Teaching Resources”) for the following workshops: teaching hybrid courses, using zoom to teach, and low stakes feedback.  Hybrid course resources are available on the WordPress site under “Hybrid Course Teaching Resources,” including a checklist, design template, and sample welcome email.