This year marks an anniversary for us: this is the 5th annual Transitioning to College Writing Symposium! In planning for this post, I began by reflecting on past symposia, and the path they have taken toward having a theme and this year, a call for participants. It’s fascinating to consider the journey the symposia have taken since 2011, our inaugural year. Then, our flier proclaimed: “Announcing a Symposium for Writing Teachers” and the emphasis that we now have on student transitions to college writing and fostering student engagement with writing for life was, while included, less noticeable, even though we began that first program with a panel of students who had experienced such transitions. It makes sense, in one way, since that was a new venture for us and we were just becoming acquainted with each other. We invested time in exploring the landscapes of writing instruction in Mississippi and the goals and outcomes we shared, learning about what we had in common and the ways in which we differed, especially regarding resources. Those of us who attended the 2011 symposium left with a sense of having found a supportive, nurturing community, and this remains an enduring – and endearing – feature of past and present symposia.
The 2012 symposium had no particular theme, though our program planners selected the topics featured on the program, just as they do now. 2012 was the year our first blog was posted. The 2013 symposium benefitted from a Mississippi Humanities Council grant, which made it possible to feature writing-across-the-curriculum scholar Dr. Pamela Childers on that year’s program. In 2014, and again this year, we added themes developed and refined by our program planners. This year, we sent out a call for proposals to teachers around the state, and I believe this is our best program yet! Of course, if you read my past blogs, you’ll know I say that each year. But I believe that’s because our symposia continue to develop and mature with each year
The symposia are a community effort shaped by the commitment and enthusiasm of our program planners, who teach in public and private high schools, colleges and universities in and near Mississippi, and sponsors who fund the event. We appreciate support from my home department, Writing & Rhetoric, and UM’s College of Liberal Arts, School of Education, Division of Outreach, Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, and W.W. Norton and Bedford/St. Martin’s, two major textbook publishers. Such support makes it possible to not only plan and host the annual symposia but to bring visiting scholars to the program, provide travel grants for high school teachers and graduate students, distribute resources, share delicious food, all of which sustain the symposia as an annual event. Our sincere thanks go to all who have provided support for us, past and present!
We have a great lineup of guest bloggers this year: check back often to read posts written by our program contributors – planners and presenters alike. Review the program, learn more about our program planners and presenters by visiting their pages, and most of all – be sure to register! I look forward to welcoming you to Oxford, to our University, and to our 2015 Symposium!
– Alice Johnston Myatt, Department of Writing & Rhetoric, University of Mississippi