Professing English: A Community of Teaching Practice/A Community of Faculty Learning
“Professing English” represents a group of English Department contract faculty members who have been meeting regularly to share pedagogical strategies to develop an active program in teaching. This group focuses on skills directly relevant to our needs as instructors of English Department courses.
“Professing English” is a term used by a number of academics, including Sandra Djwa and Gerald Graff, as they articulate the complexities involved in engaging students in the broad spectrum of subjects that range from literary study to compositional skills. The term holds particular resonance in the context of UBC’s English Department because it is the title of Djwa’s biography of Professor Roy Daniells, a former head and influential figure in the history of this Department. Graff’s theory of “professing English” asks us to “teach the controversies” and train our students in rational, independent critical processes.
Our group has been exchanging ideas, tools, and strategies for achieving these teaching and learning objectives. Our sessions balance polishing specific practical skills (effective grading, working with students with different learning styles) with more theoretical approaches (pedagogical philosophies, the integration of literary theory into composition courses).
It is important for our yearly plan to be flexible in order to make room for issues or subjects that may arise unexpectedly. Therefore, the subjects of some sessions are scheduled from the start, according to common interests that have been expressed by a large number of members, while others will arise more informally as the year progresses. We also envision working with the Connect team at least once a year in order to remain current with the integration of technology into some of our classroom practices.
A community of teaching practice is an essential element of the professional development of contract faculty members in the English Department and we hope to continue this initiative for the foreseeable future. If you are an instructor in the English Department and would like to join our conversations, or if you have other questions about this group, please email Sarika Bose.