Community: Nurturing Deep Connections on our Campuses, in our Classrooms, and in our Writing Centers
TYCA-PNW & PNWCA Joint Conference 2019
April 26 - 27, 2019
Yakima Valley College
In these troubling times of political strife, unthinkable realities for immigrants and their families, unending legislative push for education reform, and the deprofessionalization of our fields, it seems especially difficult to find common ground. There are ideological mountains, rivers, and deserts between us. But what if we look beneath the surface at our below-ground web of humanity? Just as forest ecologists have discovered that trees in a forest communicate with one another in a subterranean network and share resources to nurture weakened or vulnerable trees through tiny fungal threads that extend from their roots, we writing teachers, program administrators, writing center directors, and tutors in the college environment may discover that we are ideally positioned to forge otherwise hidden connections in our classrooms and writing centers, connections that promote cooperation over competition, compassion over callousness, complexity rather than oversimplification, cultural inclusion instead of ethnocentrism, and resilience in lieu of hopelessness. In nurturing supportive communities with our students--and with one another--we provide opportunity for individuals to persevere, resist, and thrive, for grit alone and determination alone, will not ensure individual success. Achievement is shared as are our struggles.
In this, our final collaborative conference between TYCA-PNW and PNWCA, we invite you to join us in thinking about the forces that pull us together as academic professionals and students in all our varied abilities, backgrounds, and subject identities. How might we choose to see opportunity in the adversities and tensions surrounding us in these dangerous and unpredictable times? How can we look beneath the surface to create ties that help sustain us all and enable us to fulfill our mission as educators and learners?
We welcome proposals for interactive sessions, single or collaborative presentations, roundtable discussions, panels, poster presentations, and other creative variants.
Proposals may consider (but are not limited to) the following questions:
What are the community networks that you most value as teachers, tutors, scholars, activists? How do these networks inform the work you do in the classroom or writing center to benefit students?
How do we see where and when to build connections on our campuses, in our classrooms, in the writing center? How can we sharpen our eyes and ears for such opportunities? How do we identify others’ needs/distress and offer the support and resources we possess?
When should we seek connections with like-minded colleagues or those who most closely share our work, and when should we reach outside our comfort zones?
How might building connections also allow for uncomfortable learning or promote productive (rather than agonistic) disagreement and dissent? How do we teach this to our students, model it in our own habits, or foster it in our writing centers?
StoryCorp founder Dave Isay has argued that it’s our “patriotic duty” to listen to one another; he views storytelling, particularly among pairs of people with divergent perspectives, as a transformative act. How might authoring stories/literacy narratives create ties that contribute to educational goals in writing centers and classrooms?
So many of our students (and ourselves) are dealing with traumas of various kinds, and in this poisonous political environment we are given false stories that allow us to dehumanize "others" and to externalize blame for the ills we face. How can we make space to share stories while simultaneously creating containers to help people hold/process their pain?
If our efforts include creating connections through narrative and story-telling, how do we avoid simultaneously creating conditions where people feel forced to reveal parts of themselves they may prefer to keep hidden (and perhaps need to for safety reasons)--citizenship status (documented/undocumented), sexual identity, gender identity, past/ongoing trauma, etc.
What role does listening play in building connections/trust and combatting fear/hopelessness? Might listening even be considered a subversive rather than complicit act, when we choose to listen to those with whom we disagree? And how can we teach, inspire, practice this kind of listening in our day-to-day work?
Since listening resides in the body, how/when might we listen to ourselves to assess our own needs as academics and professionals?
In a world where the loudest voices in the room or on campus tend to draw the most attention, how might listening be cultivated and valued as an act of respect, discovery, empathy--with potential to be transformative and so very essential for creating welcoming spaces for people who feel overlooked or are rarely if ever heard?
How does deficit language in describing learners (i.e. “at risk,” “underprepared”) work against educational goals and the learners in our spaces? How might rethinking and renaming such labels forge healthier connections and self-worth for learners?
What sort of connections are we building for greater access to the spaces we inhabit--online as well as face-to-face? (e.g. being culturally responsive and inclusive practitioners, using principles of Universal Design for Learners or multiple means of representation, engagement, and assessment?)
How do we motivate and mentor newcomers to our fields--students, writing teachers, peer tutors, part-time/contingent faculty--to help ensure their success and livelihood in our academic environments amidst current ongoing challenges?
Presenter contact information: name(s), institution(s), institutional email(s), and phone number(s)
Title and abstract : 100-word maximum
Proposal: a one-paragraph description of your session, 300-word maximum
50 min. individual or collaborative presentation
15 min. individual presentation to be combined with 2 - 3 related presentations
50 min. panel of multiple presenters
50 min. workshop
50 min. roundtable
other (feel free to suggest!)
Both TYCA-PNW & PNWCA
Proposal Deadline: Friday, December 21, 2018