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Psychology in Everyday Life

As an Asian male teaching English, my writerly role has helped me position more effectively in the classroom where all ethnicities get to participate in the discourse community. In this perspective, nonnative, nonwhite writing professors might occupy a rather crucial position that, at the same time they negotiate their nontraditional identities or unimagined roles as English faculty, their own reading and writing could in turn help students develop their marginal voices and further engage their learning interest.

As I negotiate with my social and professional identities through the manuscript process, my students begin to view me as an actual writer who plays with words, targets specific forums, and presents products on due dates. To many of my students, my appearance or demeanor which seemed unconventional, ethnic, or even foreign to many; see Yuet-Sim. Chiang's discussion, for example has finally come across to them as a writer who pursues the decision-making process, which is negotiative and sustaining.

As fellow writers we have common challenges when a writing task is upon us; we need to make physical as well as intellectual efforts, attend to due dates, and learn from critiques gathered through rigorous writing workshops.


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For instance, I brainstormed with students and made anonymous copies of my drafts for class workshops. As peers we mark up one another's writing during workshops and the class in turn uses these comments as a springboard for further discussion. As a nonnative English instructor, I have had my writing challenges resulting from culture clashes including such issues faced by parents having or raising children out of wedlock, U.

In addition, peer reviewers pay particular attention to audience needs by role-playing interested readers, as they are asked to examine particular forums in which class drafts are situated. Like students' writing, my work therefore benefits from the process as student reviewers do their jobs rhetorically, editorially, and indeed reflectively.

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Instead of dwelling in the seemingly usual surprises as they found an Asian instructor in their English classes, within a short period of time they would know me as a fellow writer who contributed frequently and conscientiously to class workshops and whose writing was well publicized. Steadily and surely my writerly self balances my ethnic self; and, combined, I have become a legitimate, effective teacher of composition. If teacher-modeling seems to address issues of ethnicity effectively, such as in my case, might it also address issues of gender, age, the physically challenged, and, in fact, positioning in general?

Teacher-modeling as a theory should warrant further research and reflection. Some teachers continue to see writing with students as a problematic or even impossible challenge, perhaps for apparent reasons:. While these and similar claims may seem valid in imaginable circumstances, writing with students presents important pedagogical perspectives too good to miss.

Robert Root, a leader of summer writing workshops involving Michigan teachers, stresses that the teacher-writer's approach fosters several conditions essential to both successful learning and successful writing, arguing fundamentally that teachers need to develop both an awareness of themselves as writers and also a willingness to take a writer's approach to the teaching of writing The essential conditions, according to literacy scholar Brian Cambourne, include engagement or personal commitment, immersion, demonstration, approximation, expectation, and responsibility In the composition classroom, Root explains, teacher-writers who have their own experiences to draw on are more likely to recognize the lack of engagement and immersion and are therefore more likely to seek ways to address the problems.

Teacher-writers who have grappled with their own composing processes are more likely to be flexible in helping students with theirs; they are more apt to reject lockstep prescriptive procedures; they are more inclined to help students individualize composing strategies according to the nature of their own works-in-progress.

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Such teacher-writers' practices, Root explains, further satisfy Cambourne's remaining conditions because by struggling with their own manuscripts, teachers recognize the similarities and differences between their students' difficulties as writers and their own as writers. Through teacher-writers' own processes of demonstration and approximation, as well, their works-in- progress have themselves demonstrated how difficult writing can be even with sound advice and noble intentions, a challenge students face every day And finally, in a climate of trust reinforced by participation and collaboration, these teachers incorporate expectation and responsibility, Cambourne's last two conditions, as they continue to encourage student-initiated discussion based on their chosen writing forums or markets.

Root's workshopper Maryalice summed it well as a teacher-writer:. I cannot teach writing unless I stay in touch with the writing process on a regular basis myself. I just don't feel I would be very effective in my job if I didn't exercise my pen on paper frequently. There has to be what [Harvey] Kail calls "the community of writers" and that becomes of necessity a very intimate, supportive entity in the classroom. I have no right to be a part of that community unless I contribute. To sit back and be a red-penned judge makes me removed from the process and frankly, if I were a student in that situation, I'd be wary of sharing much of anything with the teacher!

In addition to Root's teachers' concerns and strategies, writing with students frequently and systematically responds to current research interest in discourse community and textuality by potentially merging student text and teacher text, encouraging multivocality, and building a community text not usually found in the student-writing-only classes. For a detailed discussion and demonstration on merging texts, see Ng's "Engaging Students in the Literature Classroom: Reflections of A Compositionist.

Excerpted comments in course evaluation from previous courses suggest that most students are very excited about the idea of publication and have therefore developed a positive attitude toward their coursework. Some may even imply further work and publication commitment long after the academic term. The following categories will provide us with a glimpse into what seem to have worked for them:.

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My expectations were fulfilled. My expectation for this course was to learn about writing in different forums. I think I have a better understanding through the assignment where we learned to revise based on target readerships. The course was fun, but a little difficult at times. I'm more worried about fulfilling his expectations. Overall, he did a great job helping to improve skills. I never thought about publishing my writing and I feel I know something about it.

I expected this to be a very boring class with lots of reading but I enjoyed learning about the different disciplines as we did for the publication exercises and how to write towards them. The course actually began like any course you would expect, until the writing of publication paper which I learned to see drafts as manuscripts. It actually encouraged to look at my writing differently now. I took my group comments very seriously. I am keeping what I have written just in case. I get published.


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  • I hope it's okay that I sent a copy with your comments on it. The paper meant so much to me and my grandmother. I have already begun my second piece. I have never thought about getting sending anything to anywhere for publication, and that included the campus paper. Now I know so much about the possibilities as found in the Writer's Market index book.

    Testimonials

    I think I can do the same thing with my students in the future. They might begin with something local and then I will ask them to try sending things out. The paper prepared me for advanced study in English.

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    Don't graduate papers have to meet publication qualities? I have learned much about discourse communities in a concrete sense. This is a great class, period. I have found the academic discussion great and I know that I have learned a lot especially about how writing teachers think and write. And how we can teach more effectively by joining the group. I liked it!

    You have proved that writing can be fun! I showed my mother the piece I finally sent to Family Life and she was surprised about publication. I have told my friends about this class. I really appreciated the assignment, which allowed me to write whatever I wanted as long as I saw fit with the audience sheet. Great concept. I like the way you present it as a sequence beginning with your lecture first, and then the analysis. I target English Journal and have benefited from your comments. I think that a little emphasis on publication is good, but not too much. Despite what you said, I felt that I had to publish in order to get an A.

    I know that you wanted us to learn so much about audience which we did. Please read the catalog descriptions, this class had nothing to do with publication. But we only did one paper so it's good. Sometimes you are not clear about expectations. While the negative comments belong to the scarce minority of responses, they do alert me, once again, for the possibility of imposing on them my views and an overemphasis on real-world publishing. Undergraduate classes, especially, have benefited from their interests in pop culture, local and national issues, together with topics in the majors from a few students.

    Graduate-level classes, including a composing curriculum class and a research methodology class, have always been interested in the publication process.

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    Over the years, some have published their pieces. The effort of writing with students pays off when we see results not traditionally seen on campus. On different occasions my students have inquired about collaboration with me, and some got published by carefully revising for their markets of choice. In other words, students never could benefit from the third cycle if their writing remained class assignments exclusively assessed by their instructors. As well, my students and I would have known far less about the processes of writing and learning had I only given assignments without writing and sharing with them.

    I suppose I have become their friendly editor and indeed fellow writer in the class community and beyond. Bishop, Wendy. Blair, Catherine Pastore. Cambourne, Brian. Chiang, Yuet-Sim D. Christine Farris and Chris M.