Welcome to our class. I have been waiting to meet you since last February when faculty requested fall teaching assignments. My goals for this course are for us to become more skillful in writing, more at ease with writing, more literate; to become independent thinkers and initiators; to honor ourselves, our classmates, and our work; to honor where we've been and where we're headed.
Here is what I believe about writing and about becoming a better writer--the theories behind my practice--why are we doing all this?
Writing is a social activity.
Everyone can write and can learn to write well.
Writers write better and longer when they have a say in their writing topics.
Writers become better writers by engaging in much writing practice.
Students know good writing when they read it and can be good at explaining to writers what is not clear, where they would like to know more.
Writers will learn more about their writing from those who read as interested readers rather than from those who read as correctors and graders.
Write more, grade less.
Reading leads to topics for writing and helps writers hear and put into play in their own writing, the music of language.
Grammar, spelling and mechanics are best learned in the context of a writer's own writing.
Proof-reading makes a writer's message more clear and makes a writer look smart.
Any writing can be reduced to three elements: who is the audience, what is the content, and what is the purpose for writing.
Sometimes, writers' previous experiences with writing, especially school writing,
get in the way of their engagement with other approaches in new contexts, especially
moving from high school to college, or moving from one college course to another.
Writers who for a semester can free themselves of previous experiences that didn't
help all that much with writing can become more comfortable with writing, better
at it, and can judge for themselves how effective they are as writers rather
than look to a teacher's grade to determine how good a piece of work is.
How can you trust that I know what I am doing, know what you are doing? You can't, not at first. But I write a lot and read a lot about writing and how to do it; work with teachers K-12 through our West Tennessee Writing Project and with UTM Faculty in Voice Lessons: The UTM Faculty Writing Project; and this fall will put together a book-length manuscript of my short stories. This semester I also am working with a colleague in the Department on a project where we will observe in each other's English 111 classes, and write about what we discover about our teaching.
If what I have written here about the why of our work sounds unsettling, one of my jobs is to help provide support for you--to encourage you in what you do best as a reader and writer--so you can see that you can do this course, and that you can do it well. You can. I will write with you, completing most of our assignments as you complete them. I look forward to working with you this semester.