Tuesday, July 2, 2013

The search for a writing sample

It has been a long time since I've written a Slice of Life post. Despite my best intentions, I let the end of the year madness, starting with the last grades of 3rd quarter and the insanity of testing season (May-June) get in the way of my own reflection and writing. I can't believe I haven't made a single Tuesday "Slice of Life" challenge post since April...there's so much to revisit and write!

Early in my March blogging challenge, I wrote about going to an accreditation meeting for potential PhD program. Well, that program was approved and is accepting applications for this fall. Even though I won't be going for a full-time slot, I have been working on an application.

Part of the application calls for an academic writing sample. This poses a bit of a problem for me. I have some academic writing, but most of it is over 10 years old.

  • While I do have some electronic copies of literary analyses I completed during my MA in English (1995-1997), I'm not sure that these are appropriate. 
  • I already mentioned that my own rhetoric and composition study has some significant holes, and I have yet to turn up a copy of my 1997 thesis. 
  • Most of my education courses have required shorter reviews and practice reflections. I'm not sure an "I-Search paper" or a multigenre study will be perceived as "academic" enough.
  • My more recent writing has been blog or book review posts. Would my Nerdy Book Club post from April be "academic" enough?
The solution I've come up with is to present a selection of shorter writings that demonstrate a range of my work. 
  1. A shorter MA literary analysis paper I delivered at a small conference in 1996 (7 pages, single spaced)
  2. The I-search paper on using journals in the English classroom written in 2003 (7 pages, single spaced)
  3. My Nerdy Book Club guest post written this year (3 pages, single spaced with the images removed)
I like #1 because it's an analysis that was actually submitted to and accepted by a small conference. That gives it some credibility as a peer reviewed work. Also, the paper itself demonstrates that even as a "lit student," I was already looking at the audience effect on the shaping of a rhetorical message. It's funny to see how close this is to what I ask my own students to attempt...

#2 demonstrates some thought into the practice of teaching reading and writing. Even though the journal isn't as central to my writing instruction as I envisioned, I keep going back to this practice in my teaching. I'm hoping this piece helps demonstrate that I look to research and to other teachers in forming my classroom practices, and have done so since I took education classes.

#3 also reflects on my teaching, but has a reading focus. Since I'm interested in looking at the reading/writing link, I hope this piece demonstrates that interest in more than just my goals statement.

I'm probably putting more thought into this than it needs, but that's been my pattern...lots of thinking and chewing followed by bursts of productive reflection and writing. This application process really is a slice of my life.