Thinking about Process

Two decades ago, my mentor, Sherrie Gradin, made the comment in English 617: Teaching College English that she wished teachers would stop referring to the process of writing as THE Writing Process, as if there were one magical process that would enable all students to write amazing essays.  What Sherrie wanted us to think about was that everyone has his or her process for writing and that the teacher should encourage students to incorporate various strategies into their own writing process.  Our conversation then turned toward the power of listening to our students and our asking them to think reflectively about what they needed in their own processing.


This past year, I’ve spent a huge amount of my time processing the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and thinking about how this framework will change writing instruction in the K-12 classroom.  For the first time in my 20 years of experience with public education, teachers are given time to process a new framework several years before the assessment begins.  Teachers are allowed to explore, to develop, to think about how best to incorporate this new framework into their classroom instruction.  Much of my job has been to help teachers think through that process.  This CCSS standards for writing encourages teachers to reflect on their own writing process and subsequent writing instruction.  This implementation underscores that there is no one process because are all teachers at different levels with diverse backgrounds and even more varied classrooms.


Last year was our first Transitioning to Writing Symposium.  In planning for the event, we the planning team needed to go through a process of determining what was important to share and what we wanted to achieve in those two days.  We heard from teachers, instructors, and students.  We shared strategies with each other and began the conversation.   What we discovered was that we all are searching for ways to prepare our students for their futures. We came away from that weekend for shared conversation thinking about what we needed to do for our own classroom instruction.  Even now, we the planning team find ourselves processing the feedback from last year and talking about what we want to offer for the second Transitioning to Writing Conference.  What we know is that we still need to continue the dialogue with the teachers and instructors in the high school, community college, and college classrooms.  Process takes time and revision.


As we move closer to the end of September and toward the second Transitioning to College Writing Symposium, I find myself excited to be a part of this process of talking, sharing, thinking, and learning.   Because of the CCSS, writing instruction will shift, and teachers already are searching for strategies.  I want to listen for the multiple processes that other teachers use in their classrooms.  Ultimately, I look forward to watching what evolves from the second symposium and finding out where we go from there.

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