Two Pre-Event Reflective Activities

Activity 1:

We acknowledge that we are all in different places with our relationship to racism and antiracism. We truly believe that active listening and engagement – to/with ourselves (minds and bodies) and to/with the minds and bodies of others – plays an integral role in this work. In preparation for our time together, we ask you to identify where you are at in the following spectrum of experience (adapted from The Commons Consulting) and bring the accompanying question(s) with you into our time together. Everyone, regardless of their previous level of experience, is very welcome. We need all of our energy and insights in this work.

This is all new to me: How can you actively suspend judgment to remain open to new learning, even when it is uncomfortable or unpleasant or difficult or not what you expected?

Some of this is new to me, but some of it is becoming familiar: How can you actively suspend judgment to remain open to new learning, even when it is uncomfortable or it feels like something you “already know”? How can you actively seek out the unexpected?

I know this: How can you remain open to the unexpected? How can you value the role of the learner as its own contribution, rather than thinking of it only as a means to an end (i.e., to becoming an “expert”)?

I live this: We acknowledge that much of your energy and insight already goes to the work and we are grateful. How can you take care of yourself during our time together, offering only what you want to give and not more?

Activity 2:

This activity would be great to do the morning before coming to the session; however, if that time does not work for you, this activity can certainly be completed earlier.

Often, when we consider how to engage with antiracist and decolonial approaches to writing instruction, concerns quickly rise. For example, these concerns can involve our own racial, national, or ethnic background/experiences and how they relate to the students we serve; practices that seem to achieve the desired effect on student writing but are steeped in prejudicial approaches to language/linguistic varieties; how to make space for antiracist and decolonial approaches in institutions that insist on conventional approaches to Academic Englishes – and so on. We can call these things rocks – they are heavy and sometimes challenging to work with, but as we consider these questions/concerns/experiences, there are opportunities here, too. Often, we can build something into our writing instruction practices as a result of grappling with these rocks.

To this end, the second activity you might do before we meet is identify your rocks. Set a timer for two to five minutes. (If timers make you anxious, you can just estimate the time in another way that seems useful).

Consider asking yourself the following:

  • What rocks are you holding today? (Two or more rocks is fine)
  • What thoughts come to mind as you think about your rocks?
  • Do you have a physical reaction to various rocks or not? Why might this be the case?
  • Are these rocks the same ones you were holding a year ago? Two years ago?
  • If yes, what do you think this symbolizes? What are some key things (discussion/resources/support, etc.) that you think you need to build more effectively with your rocks in your writing instruction practice? If not, do you feel like this shift over time has been positive? What things do you think you need to grow? What questions do you think will help you build more effectively in the future?

If you would like, you are welcome to share some of your thoughts in this Padlet.

In the question and answer period at the session, we will return to these rocks and consider how we might build with them or open up other avenues for using them.