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Join us for an interview with Dannelle Stevens and Joanne Cooper, authors of Journal Keeping: How to Use Reflective Writing for Learning, Teaching, Professional Insight and Positive Change for a sneak peek of their 2011 TAA Conference session, "Five Key Strategies to Boost Writing Power and Productivity." Stevens and Cooper will be presenting their session at the 24th Annual TAA Conference in Albuquerque, NM, June 24-25. http://www.taaonline.net/TAAConference
Welcome to the Text and Academic Authors Association Podcast Series. My name is Kim Pawlak and today I am interviewing Dannelle Stevens and Joanne Cooper about their session Five Key Strategies to Boost Writing Power and Productivity which they will be presenting at the 2011 TAA Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico, June 25, 2011. Dannelle is a professor of Curriculum and Instruction at Portland State University. Her research and writing interests lie in identifying and studying ways for all educators to be more effective and productive in their professional life. She and Joanne had tested and developed a set of successful strategies to help faculty in their professional lives as teachers and scholars and share with them in their book Journal Keeping: How to Use Reflective Writing for Learning, Teaching, Professional Insight and Positive Change, published in June 2009. She and Joanne have also co-authored Tenure in the Sacred Grove: Issues and Strategies for Women and Minority. Dannelle is also author of Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment Tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning, co-authored with Antonia Levi which has sold 20,000 copies to date. Joanne Cooper is a professor of Educational Administration at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She has authored five books and numerous articles, many of which focused on reflection and leadership and higher education. She has written extensively about the condition of women in higher education and was the lead author of publications on gender equity in The Handbook on Gender Equity in Education and in Women in Higher Education: An Encyclopedia. She has also co-authored The Constructivist Leader, which was named Book of the Year by the National Council on Staff Development. She has served on the editorial board of The Journal of Research on Leadership Education, the American Educational Research Journal/SIA, Advancing Women in Leadership, and the Journal of General Education.
Dannelle and Joanne, thank you for joining us today.
Nice to be here. Thank you. I'm happy to participate.
Well, thank you. So can each of you share your own background in academic rating? What were some of the challenges and successes you have experienced?
Dannelle, you want me to go first?
Sure. Just jump in.
Well, I think one of the things that stands out for me is fear of the blank page, and also I had an image of myself here in Hawaii as wanting to get into a national conversation through publication, and I think one of the main things I learned is that you can't be intimidated by that national audience. You have to just sort of push through your own fear and go ahead, and it is helpful I think to think of an audience that's friendlier, who you're talking to, and if you think about actual individuals you know or actually get an editing group started that will give you a friendlier audience. I remember I was in an editing group where one of my friends said, "Joanne, I love you but I have no idea what you just said." And that was a very friendly and warm message but also clear that my writing wasn't clear and that's one of the things you need to know. I also think that keeping a journal for over 30 years has given me a lot of practice in writing and it is sort of like playing -- you played tennis everyday for 30 years, just to be better at it almost accidentally, and I think that has helped me to write in a more flowing manner.
How about you, Dannelle?
Well, I found it when I started working on my dissertation that I really did not know much about writing and that I really needed to become more strategic in trying to become a better writer. So I decided I would be a student of writing. Got many books on it, read about it, practice many different kinds of strategies, and over the years, over the last 20-25 years, I have improved on my writing and feel like I've just learned a whole lot about the process of writing.
So how did your writing experiences play a role in developing writing strategies to help other writers?
Well I think we started with the writing of Tenure in the Sacred Grove, that was a place for us to begin writing together and of course, that book focused on helping women in minority. And then from there, we sort of focused in on journal writing and the writing process, and both the keeping of both personal and professional journals. That was the chapter in Tenure in the Sacred Grove, and it then blossomed into a book on journal keeping. And I think journal keeping is one of the things that plays a big role in our experiences with helping others because of the nature of practice, that it just helps you to practice writing and getting your ideas down on paper, and if you haven't been keeping a journal, I would encourage you to start now. It's never too late.
Okay. And I think that my writing experiences again tackled the journal keeping but I keep and we talked a lot about in the book also in willingness session. Did have some practice in some journal activities that you can use in your professional life. We're not talking about a diary here. We're talking about using writing throughout your professional life to enhance your work. It is just one of the strategies that we'll talk about but it's a very powerful one because it kind of is the foundation of many of your ideas and organization.
It really does help you to stay organized if you keep a professional journal and we'll be talking a lot about that in the session.
Thank you. So tells us a bit about the session you are presenting at the TAA conference, Joanne.
Well, one of our goals and all of our work has been to demystify academic writing. Academic writing has its own sort of genre, own way of speaking, and in some ways, in fact someone said to me yesterday you should write an article on that and I said it's like being the member of a tribe. You have to speak the language of academe and how do we figure out what that is and how do we respond to that and how do we shape our ideas to be successful in that tribe is what we will do in this workshop and offer people a way to get beyond not knowing how to approach this special type of writing and to keep producing and continually develop a habit of writing.
What do you hope participants take away from the session?
We want them to take away a set of strategies that they have practiced in the session and can use the following Monday morning in their own work. We also will provide access to a Wiki that we will create to continue the conversations that are began in the session so people have a chance to continue to talk to each other across the nation.
That sounds terrific, sounds really interesting. So can you share a couple of the strategies you developed to boost writing and productivity?
Sure. One strategy is that the participants need to understand themselves as writers. Who are you as a writer? And so we will have them take a questionnaire designed by Robert Boice to identify personal styles that can inhibit productivity, and then we will help them to analyze their survey results to determine their own personal style. Robert Boice talks about people who are bleeders, where every single word is painful to put on the page and people who flow when they write. You need to know a lot about yourself as a writer and so you can work with that information to become better.
And he has a list of ways to remedy some of the things that you know sort of your style on approaching writing, like for me, I have what I found out years ago when I took the survey was that I get impatient. I want to be done. I'm not necessarily perfectionist. I just want to be done. So when I see that coming up in my writing, I kind of tame her down and because okay, you're just getting impatient now, this is that stage and then that helps me continue to write and continue to produce writings. The survey is really very powerful and provides a lot of insight for people.
Why should authors use strategies to boost their writing power and productivity? Why not just sit down and write?
Joanne, you want this one?
Yeah, I think writing is a complex activity and skill. It's not easy to write. It's difficult. And so you need to build a habit of writing and to use thoughtful and intentional strategies to boost your own productivity and creativity and to build a foundation for the habit of writing and keeping words flowing. I remembered this Australian author who said, he thought the secret to writing was bum glue, and that is the glue you are bummed to the chair and write.
I've had a colleague who said that as well. But it's not, I think what happens to people and what used to happen to me is that I would try very hard. Effort was the strategy that I use and I would try very hard and I keep pushing and writing, and look at my writing, but I really didn't have sort of external support such as people, other people in the community, or even some strategies in graphing my writing or some other strategies that we'll talk about in the workshop to get me. It's actually not effort, it's strategic effort that's going to help you become a more published and productive writer.
What are the other things we're going to share in the workshop or template for academic writing so that you get an idea of just the style of writing that is required to be a successful academic office? And I think journal keeping is another useful strategy here because Peter Elbow says he does not think anybody would keep writing if it wasn't for the surprises, and one of the things that happen when you're doing free writing is that ideas bubble up that you haven't thought about before. You're surprised by what comes up and it helps you to be more productive as a writer. It's a feedback loop that helps you to continue writing.
Because you feel like you have "Oh, I have ideas. Oh, wow that is really, really great" and that it's not that you're just sort of sizing up the ideas from the literature but you're going to add as you do these, these kind of activities that promote that creativity and insight that comes from experience. So there are some very powerful things you can do. And it won't be so painful to write but more of interesting and productive.
Well those are some really great strategies, a lot of great advice. I'm looking forward to hearing your entire session this summer. We have a couple of callers on the line and we'll see if anyone has any questions.
Well, Dannelle and Joanne will be presenting a session on How to Boost Writing Power and Productivity at the 2011 TAA Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico on June 25, 2011. You can learn more at www.taaonline.net/2011TAAConference. Thank you for listening to today's episode. For more educational sessions from TAA, visit www.blogtalkradio.com/textacademicpodcast and www.taaonline.net/TAATeleconferences. Thank you.
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