Red Mountain Writing Project has had great success with their scholarly writing retreat for university faculty. It's a great model, and they unpack it beautifully in this piece on nwp.org. What a fabulous way to show that a writing project can be a valuable member of the university community as well as the k-12 community. Here's how the program got started, according to Tonya Perry, director:
The University of Alabama at Birmingham, like many universities, is an institution in transition, particularly in the College of Arts and Sciences. Over the past few years, the economy, among other factors including enrollment and retention, forced a consolidation of four schools within the university into one large entity: the College of Arts and Sciences. This transition put support for the Red Mountain Writing Project at risk. With a new interim dean, we found ourselves in a position of having to reconfirm our value as a university program.
During her first address to the faculty, the new College of Arts and Sciences interim dean outlined her goals. Two in particular struck home: to leverage the university's investment in its programs by increasing the number of cross-discipline initiatives, and to increase the scholarly production of faculty. As co-directors, listening and thinking about the future of RMWP, Bruce McComiskey and I recognized in the dean's goals a new opportunity for our work. Until that moment we had been focused on the role of the Red Mountain Writing Project as a K–12 professional resource. After the dean's address, we understood the site's untapped potential as a K–16 resource.
The dean's goals and RMWP's mission to support writers and writing pointed to a potential new partnership. Immediately after the dean's address, we arranged a meeting with her to explore how the Writing Project could support the scholarly writing of UAB College of Arts and Sciences faculty. During this meeting, we shared the mission of the National Writing Project and the model of our work as a site. While the dean expressed interest, she also asked several questions:
- How is it possible that a physicist can write with a theatre professor?
- How will you structure a program so that everyone who participates can be successful?
- How much would such a program cost?
- How will the college benefit from this investment?
- How will you measure progress and report on your work?
In response, we developed a proposed budget, a schedule, and a rationale reflecting what we know about effective writing instruction. We shared the NWP Professional Writing Retreat Handbook, a resource developed specifically to support scholarly writing, as well as writing strategies that transcend specific content area knowledge (e.g., peer collaboration, peer revision, and structured time for writing and sharing). Finally, we outlined the potential benefits to the new College of Arts and Sciences in the cross-disciplinary understandings and collaborations—transcending departments and fields of study—that could come from faculty writing together.
Check out the full story on nwp.org and also find their handouts and resources to help you start your own writing retreat for faculty