While attending the Carolinas Writing Program Administrators annual fall conference at the Wildacres Retreat in Little Switzerland NC, I got some writing done. Doug Hesse was the keynote; however, he lead most of the “conference” as a writing retreat. Although he repeatedly told us we could write what we wanted and/or needed, many of us still worked with his prompts.
Doug offered his prompts in “menu” format; for the second quick write, the appetizer, I wrote combined the prompt of my history of writing with my history of learning about what/how/why WPAs.
Since I started off graduate school as literature scholar, I had no idea what a WPA was. I just knew that writing had always been difficult; at various points in high school and as an undergraduate I had pendulum swings of more often than not negative and positive experiences associated with my writing. When I applied for graduate school and started getting offers I was horrified at how many wanted me to teach writing as part of my funding package. Not the only reason, but definitely one of the major reasons, I agreed to Arizona State was because they gave me a tuition waiver without having to teach my first year. I was petrified of teaching.
My first introducing to what is a WPA came during the late spring of my first year at ASU. I knew I would be going through TA training in the late summer and taking the TA seminar during the fall when I started teaching my first writing classes. I scheduled an appointment with ASU’s current WPA, Duane Roen, and went to talk to hime about my fears. Instead of saying “I’m afraid,” I masked my fear with “I’d like to be better prepared, can you suggested readings that I might do this summer to prepare for TA training.”
This event, or these events (my history as a writer as well as my experience as a new TA at ASU), informed my interests of what is a WPA. Part of my scholarly interest/persona is integrally wrapped up in idea of how to facilitate professional development. Not that I don’t know or understand the myriad of other responsibilities a WPA has; instead, I’m just very sensitive to the fact that our writing instructors come with various experiences, confidences, and insecurities associated with teaching writing.