Effective Teaching Practices in the Writing Classroom

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"While I had thought initially to matriculate into the English Department, it seems to be more heavily weighted toward theory than application, whereas the pedagogical training that I consider necessary for teaching is available through ETAP." So I had thought and so I wrote in my application for admission to the doctoral program. At the same time, realizing that I still would need a solid grounding in my subject area to teach composition and rhetoric, my goal for pursing a Ph.D., I co-matriculated the next semester into the English Department's M.A. program on the writing sequence. Returning to school from a corporate background meant that, while I had trained individuals and small groups in the workplace, I had had no classroom experience with teaching writing. As well, the sun has risen so many times on my memories of learning to write myself that those memories are fairly well bleached out by now. Yet, after almost two years worth of education and English courses, I have learned little about effective teaching practices in the writing classroom.

I’ve read about issues of culture and diversity (Apple, 1996; Banks, 1997; Bruner, 1996; Freire, 1998; hooks, 1994) and I’ve been exposed to the history of composition and different approaches to teaching writing (Berlin, 1987; Durst, 1999; Elbow, 1973; Haswell, 1991; Herrington & Curtis, 2000; Lindemann, 1995; Miller, 1993, for example). The better part of class time has been spent discussing racism and feminism and sexism and classism and Marxism and structuralism and expressionism and post-colonialism until the appearance of "ism" makes my eyes glaze over. The teaching of anything concrete or structured, such as the specific formats put forth by current-traditional rhetoric or gr...

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