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Teacher Talk - Autoethnograhy in the Writing Classroom

Submitted by Jacob Dwaine Huebsch on November 30, 2020 - 3:12pm

The Expository Writing Program and Critical Classrooms hosted a Teacher Talk workshop, "Autoethnograhy in the Writing Classroom," on Wednesday 12/9/20. At this event, guest facilitator Dr. Melissa Tombro lead a discussion about concrete tools and strategies for UW instructors wishing to use autoethnography in their classrooms to connect students’ personal experiences to their learning. She shared pedagogical interventions that inform her teaching practice and presented practical examples that speak to the potential of this method to effect positive, lasting change for students and educators. 

If you're interested in tips and practical examples for using autoethnography in your own classroom, her free open source textbook, Teaching Autoethnography: Personal Writing in the Classroom, is available online here.   

Teaching Autoethnography: Personal Writing in the Classroom is dedicated to the practice of immersive ethnographic and autoethnographic writing that encourages authors to participate in the communities about which they write. This book draws not only on critical qualitative inquiry methods such as interview and observation, but also on theories and sensibilities from creative writing and performance studies, which encourage self-reflection and narrative composition. Concepts from qualitative inquiry studies, which examine everyday life, are combined with approaches to the creation of character and scene to help writers develop engaging narratives that examine chosen subcultures and the author’s position in relation to her research subjects. The book brings together a brief history of first-person qualitative research and writing from the past forty years, examining the evolution of nonfiction and qualitative approaches in relation to the personal essay. A selection of recent student writing in the genre as well as reflective student essays on the experience of conducting research in the classroom is presented in the context of exercises for coursework and beyond. Also explored in detail are guidelines for interviewing and identifying subjects and techniques for creating informed sketches and images that engage the reader. This book provides approaches anyone can use to explore their communities and write about them first-hand. The methods presented can be used for a single assignment in a larger course or to guide an entire semester through many levels and varieties of informed personal writing.