STEMTEC may be winding down, but we are still trying out new ideas such as the Faculty Fellows program. Even newer is the concept of a writing retreat. It is designed as a response to a National Visiting Committee observation at its last meeting in February. The committee noted that STEMTEC has a lot of interesting insights and results, and we could be more active in our dissemination activities.
Our retreat is modeled after one developed by OCEPT, the Oregon collaborative. Elaine Cole Porter from Portland State University reported on their program in the recent Pathways conference. An extended abstract of her talk is on our web site at www.stemtec.org/pathways/Proceedings/abstract/Cole.doc. She writes, in part,
“As we matured as a project we encouraged our project participants to "go public" or publish their course revisions and other project–related work. But going public is not as easy as it might sound. We figured if OCEPT offered participants the time to get away from other responsibilities, took care of financial and material resources, and provided an onsite writing coach, participants might get articles written. Add to that a monetary "reward," and it was believed this just may be enough incentive for them to submit their article for publication.”
We had thought that this might appeal most to people who had not been active in writing journal articles, but she stressed in her talk that the retreat was attractive to both novice and experienced authors. Higher education faculty who have written many professional articles have seldom written papers on science or math education, and most of the collaborative’s participants are novice writers in a sense. And everyone can benefit from having a few days in a congenial, undistracting environment in which to focus on a writing project.
In preparation for the STEMTEC retreat, we will have two Monday evening Roundtable dinner meetings at Five Colleges. Jose Mestre (UMass) will facilitate the first, on October 14. He has is a STEMTEC participant who has written extensively on physics education research; he will explore the kinds of articles and publications one might consider. The second, on November 4, will feature Peter Elbow, a retired UMass English professor, who is widely known as a writing coach and mentor. The goal of these sessions is to help people to decide if they want to take part in the retreat and what they would write about.
All STEMTEC school and college participants are invited to consider participating in the retreat. It is scheduled for a time when the schools are in session, and STEMTEC will defray the costs of substitutes if that is needed. We encourage the formation of writing partnerships where, for example, a school-college collaboration was involved in a project. People interested in participating in the retreat will submit a form on the STEMTEC web site by December 1. We can accommodate only a limited number of people, so be sure to apply on time.
The retreat will start itself will start on Sunday afternoon, January 5, and end after lunch on Wednesday, January 8. We will have a consultant present to help with editing, provide advice, etc. The retreat will be held at Eastover in Lenox, about an hour’s drive from Northampton. This resort and conference center is a very attractive place with a long and interesting history. It offers comfortable, attractive guest rooms suitable for writing in, a good space for us to meet together, and excellent food. When we need a break, we will have access to large indoor swimming pool, a fitness center, and a sauna. You can learn more about Eastover at www.eastover.com.
You may have caught the monetary “reward” phrase in the OCEPT quote. Participants will be encouraged to have a first draft done by the end of the retreat, or at least by the end of January. And when they do have a final draft ready for submission, they will receive a $1000 stipend. A quiet time in an attractive environment, help with the writing, and a check: what more could a writer ask for?