What kind of relationship do you have with NCCU’s Writing Studio? How would you characterize this relationship? (strong/weak, formal/informal, etc.)
Short version: medium strength, largely informal and relational more so than programmatic.
A little history: Ten years ago, the Writing Studio and the FYW program were directed by the same person. As you might imagine, that’s a hefty administrative workload. When I was hired nine years, the FYW directorship became part of my job from the get go.
Some details: The relationship between the two entities is informal (there aren’t required visits) but intersecting in multiple ways.
The Writing Studio director (Karen Keaton Jackson) and I share many committee appointments, so we are in communication frequently about program and curricula. We are both active members of the General Education committee. She serves on the FYW committee and the writing concentration committee, both of which I chair. She chairs our department’s curriculum and planning committee, of which I am a member.
I teach writing intensive (WI) courses, and she directs the university writing program that serves as the umbrella for WIs.
We do some joint faculty development work in this arena. For instance, a few years ago we had a small meeting of FYW and WI faculty across disciplines to discuss student writing. One of the takeaways from that for me was the WI faculty really valued any support the FYW faculty could offer on helping students synthesize from sources. That one conversation has had an effect on how the FYW committee discusses curricular changes to emphasize research and synthesis.
Also, a few years ago I enlisted Karen for a pre-semester workshop to discuss selecting culturally relevant texts for Composition I. In 2016 I attended a CWPA workshop on reading pedagogy (Chris Anson was one of the leads). I brought that home to NCCU as a pre-semester workshop for the FYW faculty. Karen asked me to do it again for the Writing Studio consultants Writing Intensive faculty. So we’re cross pollinating due to our overlapping professional commitments and awareness of each other’s strengths.
At the national level, this year we are both on the HBCU Rhet Comp Symposium advisory board and we will be presenting together in a few weeks. We also occasionally serve on the same graduate student’s capstone project.
All of this is to say that we are in frequent communication about FYW, the Writing Studio, and other curricular and teaching issues.
What other relationships or collaborations have you had with other programs? Or, what relations would you like to strengthen?
My role as WPA is most closely tied to FYW, but I serve as the chair of the English BA Writing Concentration committee and coordinate efforts to strengthen our composition and rhetoric offerings at the MA level. So I consider all three aspects my WPA work on campus.
My own teaching interests inform the collaborations I initiate with other entities on our campus. Those that prove fruitful for my classes wind up being what I post about or share in meetings and hallway conversations with the writing instructors. By virtue of my leadership role, these can be somewhat influential. Here are a few connections that are pretty active between programs:
Library staff – relationship with FYW in that they offer general and customized library instruction for whole classes. Many writing faculty take advantage of this, and the librarians are quite good at customizing around specific assignments.
Career services – relationship to Writing Intensives especially the Intro to Tech Writing course that is a requirement for many majors.
Writing Studio – relationship to MA program because tutoring staff are drawn from the English MA pool (among other degrees). Relationship to all three first year courses through class visits and faculty encouraging individual students to attend.
What else for improving:
Any relationships that are not structured into the curriculum run the risk of melting, so I think we/I could do a better job of building a FYW-Library staff collaboration. Perhaps through a pre-semester workshop and example activities posted to Collective Wisdom.
I would like to build more ties to the Early College program. We have put out feelers to each other for a meeting, but it was canceled due to snow days in January.
The connections between FYW and the athletic department are pretty good. Again, though, these are based on relationships more so than formal structures.
We similarly work well with Student Disability Services, University College Advising, and the Student Advocate’s office – mostly on the basis of need. Partly because we are a low wealth school, FYW instructors often wear social worker hats as they help struggling students navigate the other offices that can support them in persisting through challenges. The instructors who have been here a while have a whole repertoire of programs, services, and people they know to reach out to. I could do a better job of keeping those contacts in even the newer instructors’ field of view.