WPA Directions - the initiatives!!

As I mentioned in the last few entries in this blog, occasionally we on the WPA Exec Board hear about projects that WPA can or should take up -- from members, from folks we talk to in other venues, and so on. It’s easy to see these big problems and think that we should tackle them whole hog – fix something, for instance, like “the perception of writers and writing.” But realistically, it’s impossible to tackle those huge things all at once.

What we can do, though, is define small issues within those big problems and create some do-able strategies for working with those small issues. That’s what WPA Directions is all about.

As regular reader(s) know, WPA Directions is an effort to collect input from WPA members about issues important to all of us. At the conference in Minneapolis, we gathered about 1000 postcards with these suggestions. Since the conference, the Executive Board has been working with this input to define some focused, do-able ideas stemming from these. We’re very excited about these, and we’ll soon begin asking for volunteers to help with them – watch this space and others (like WPA-L)! For now, though, I want to share with you the five initiatives, and the existing work that CWPA is already doing to address some of these issues.

1. Cuppa Coffee with a Colleague!

So often, we hear that WPA members would like to learn about writing programs in other institutions in their areas. The Cuppa Coffee initiative will set aside funds to provide a small subsidy (amount TBA, and only as much as the set aside amount can support) for folks to have coffee or a meal with a colleague whom they haven’t talked with much so that they can learn about one another’s programs and courses. (We’ll also provide some conversation starters, just in case!) Members can obtain the subsidy by writing a brief description of their conversation and submitting it to the WPA web site. In addition to getting to know one another, Cuppa Coffee participants will also receive a voucher from Parlor Press for a new book, Stories of Mentoring: Theory and Praxis. 

2. WPA Research and Continuing Education

As WPAs, we know that there are always things that we’d like to know more about. A series of WPA research and continuing education initiatives are designed to support our ongoing efforts to improve teaching and learning. Possibilities include:

  • Sponsored research

  • Seeking NEH funds to conduct a month-long summer workshop on research methods

  • Working to develop an on-line class in educational statistics for WPAs (offered during the summer)

  • Providing assistance for members to work with offices of sponsored research

3. WPA Mentoring Project

This project, led by Sheldon Walcher and Joe Janangelo, is well underway. Sheldon has gathered input from his mentoring survey that will inform CWPA efforts, including projects that will offer mentoring opportunities by and for WPAs at different career points such as graduate preparation, beginning stages and mid-career renewal. They are also exploring the possible creation of an on-line mentoring network. This network with connect them with one another, or allow them to connect with one another without a middleperson.

4. Connecting with Colleagues – Regional Conferences and Meetings

This effort would facilitate presentations by CWPA members about CWPA activities at regional conferences and meetings. 

Project 5: Using Technology to Facilitate Connections 

This project would provide information to WPA members about how they can use technology tools to help them keep in touch with colleagues and make new connections, such as creating a blogroll of WPA blogs and providing information to members about how to subscribe to blogs using a newsreader.

While these are the new initiatives that came out of WPA Directions, it’s important to also recognize CWPA’s ongoing initiatives that are intended to address some of these issues, as well. They include:

  • The WPA Network for Media Action (WPA-NMA), which provides strategies and resources for WPAs to change stories about writing and writers in media

  • The National Conversation on Writing (NCoW) (about which more soon!), which provides a space for teachers to share classroom and other resources that they have used and can use to change stories about writing

  • The WPA Mentoring Project, which led to the Mentoring Project strands at the 2008 and 2009 conference and the mentoring survey

  • Building connections with colleagues at diverse institutions (2- and 4-year, comprehensive and R1, HBCUs, etc.) on collaborative projects, eg PWPA planning for 2010

  • Working with diverse institutions to form affiliates

  • Capitalizing on the National Day on Writing with posters; developing communication strategies for members to communicate with others about NDoW, NGoW, NDoW, writing, etc.