Teaching Autoethnography

13. Concluding Thoughts

Throughout this textbook, I have engaged historical viewpoints and examined the possibilities for future expansion of personal writing’s critical application in composition scholarship and pedagogy using qualitative inquiry. Through my classroom research, I have attempted to address the possibilities for critical written engagement from the student body, when invited to invest their time in writing projects that draw on the self and personal experience. I hope I have offered multiple models for this kind of personal engagement in the classroom as well as in Composition scholarship and teacher training.

Despite the productive possibilities for personal writing, there are still many difficulties to be addressed. As I interview fellow Composition scholarship teachers, despite their own successes and willingness to use the personal in all aspects of their careers, their stories remain fairly similar. Failure to have proper support and thus, to have widely accessible models, has made engaging the personal in a meaningful way a consistently uphill battle, one that requires constant risk-taking and a willingness to search for support in unlikely places. I hope this is a resource that offers you and your students’ ideas, information, examples, and support.

Student Examples

The remainder of this textbook will be devoted to examples of writing I have received from students in response to the larger assignments described in previous chapters. For each assignment, I will provide a brief annotation that demonstrates the topics and scope of the included samples. All samples included are with full student permission; names have been changed where appropriate to ensure the anonymity of writers and subjects who wish to remain unidentified.

I recommend handing out more than one example to your students from your chosen category. This will allow you to have a group discussion about the ways in which the pieces work differently. While these are all good examples of the assignment, their different strengths and weaknesses are valuable to look at in comparison. Encourage your students to analyze the student writing as they would any other text you have looked at in your class. It is important to look at these samples with a critical eye, identifying elements of effective writing you will be discussing over the course of the class.

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