July 15, 2020
Institute: Sustainability in Unsustainable Conditions
Supporting Faculty with High Teaching Loads
Facilitators: Cheri Lemieux Spiegel and Courtney Adams Wooten
Given the many writing programs where (often contingent) faculty have high teaching loads of four or more classes per semester, at one or more institutions, this institute is aimed to help WPAs sustain and support faculty in such precarious positions. Although there have been numerous calls for writing teachers’ teaching loads to be decreased (CCCC Principles for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing; CCCC Statement on Working Conditions for Non-Tenure-Track Writing Faculty; ADA Guidelines for Class Size and Workload for College and University Teachers of English; NCTE Statement on the Status and Working Conditions of Contingent Faculty), the reality is that many institutions are not only ignoring these calls, they are, too commonly, moving in the opposite direction. Faculty workloads are expanding in multiple ways: increased credit loads, expanded class size, and additional service obligations (including advising). At the same time, classroom realities are becoming increasingly complex as the number of students needing support (college readiness, homelessness, hunger, and mental health concerns) has also increased (M. Dolores Cimini and Estela M. Rivero 2018; Beth Ann Hart 2019; Erica Phillips, Anne McDaniel, and Alicia Croft 2018). Writing program administrators are increasingly working with faculty for whom neoliberalism and an increasingly inhospitable sociocultural and political environment has created nearly impossible working conditions.
This institute is designed to guide WPAs and other department leaders, regardless of institutional type. Together we will explore strategies and frameworks for supporting sustainable working conditions for writing faculty. We will provide overviews of relevant scholarship for participants to draw upon as they participate in discussions, reflect on the opportunities and constraints in our writing programs and institutions, and collaboratively problem solve and construct strategies for supporting faculty in individual programs. The institute will close with a broader discussion framing realistic expectations for faculty support and mentoring. Materials will be shared in an online platform so that participants have access to these once the institute is complete.
Some of the topics to be covered are:
- Scholarship about high teaching loads in writing studies: opportunities and constraints
- A heuristic for understanding the pressures on faculty with high teaching loads in specific writing programs/institutions/regions
- Managing emotional labor (including students in crisis and other student realities)
- Managing lesson planning and assessment
- Maintaining research agenda
- Maintaining a balanced life
- Mentoring early career, mid career, and late career faculty
- Advocating for faculty around campus, in the region, and nationally
Cheri Lemieux Spiegel is Professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College where she was Assistant Dean of Composition from 2011-2015. She is a former member of the CWPA Executive Board and currently serves on the advisory boards for both WPA: Writing Program Administration and the Coalition of Femnist Scholars in the History of Rhetoric and Composition. She is guest co-editor of a special issue of WPA: Writing Program Administration (forthcoming Summer 2020) on two-year college writing program issues. Her work has appeared in Teaching English in the Two-Year College, Computers and Composition Online and Basic Writing eJournal (forthcoming).
Courtney Adams Wooten is the Director of Composition and Assistant Professor at George Mason University. Previously, she was the WPA at Stephen F. Austin State University for four years. She serves on the CWPA Executive Board and as the WPA: Writing Program Administration book review editor. She studies feminist rhetorics, writing program administration, and first-year composition. She is the co-editor of WPAs in Transition and The Things We Carry (forthcoming), and her work has appeared in Composition Studies, Harlot, Peitho, and WPA.