Teaching Writing: Revision and Why We Do It

I started teaching college writing in 2005 when I was still an MA student, and my writing skills were  just a few steps ahead of my students’. Over the ensuing years, I’ve become a better writer, but each new cohort of students in my classroom faces struggles similar to those of the first students. As the distance between my struggles and my students’ struggles has become greater, I’ve had to think more analytically about my writing practice in order to be able to teach academic writing effectively. This is part of a series of blog posts about guiding students through different stages of the writing process.

This post focuses on revision, the stage of the writing process in which we think about ideas and organization, and also a stage of the writing process that my undergraduate students resist engaging in.

For a long time, I was stymied by my undergraduate students’ resistance toward revising their writing. At first, I thought they were being lazy or failing at time management because they clearly must have known how important revision is!

Except they didn’t know.

After a lot of observation and listening, I learned that many of my students view revision not as a necessary and normal part of the writing process but as a kind of punishment for having submitted an inferior project. Making significant changes to a paper that had already been read by peers and the instructor was tantamount to admitting the failure of the draft.

They’re not wrong. Revision is an admission of failure. When we sit down to revise, we acknowledge that our draft falls short of perfection. The difference between experienced writers and my revision-resistant students, though, is that we didn’t expect perfection in the first place.

The problem is that when we consume other people’s writing, we see only the most polished version, the version that may have gone through multiple iterations of revision and editing by the writer, by the writer’s peers, and by an editor. We see only the product, not the process.

Here are some things that I do to convince my students that engaging in revision will actually make their written work better, to make the process more visible.

  • We read Anne Lamott’s “Shitty First Drafts,” sometimes as a homework assignment, sometimes out loud in class.
  • I show them an intermediate draft of one of my MA project papers, which has comments and edits in four different inks, one for each of the four people who commented. And another intermediate draft that has been sliced into numbered paragraphs and rearranged.
  • I talk about my current revision process and how it is challenging and frustrating and rewarding.
  • I tell them, over and over, that revision is where the magic happens. I say this so often, that I should put it on a tote bag.
  • When the students are preparing to submit first drafts for peer review and evaluation, we discuss what it means to have a complete first draft–that the draft should move through the complete arc of the paper from beginning to middle to end, but that it may have holes or ugly paragraphs or snarly sentences. First drafts, I tell them, are supposed to be ugly.

Once I understood that student resistance to revision was coming, not from laziness or bad time management, but from a fundamental misunderstanding of revision’s role in the writing process, I was able to change the way I presented it to them. When I acknowledge that revision is not easy, when I  join the students’ wrestling with the vulnerability of sharing imperfect work, more of them are willing to entertain the idea that revision is where the magic happens.

For strategies for teaching revision in the classroom, see this post.

 

Teaching Writing: Revision Strategies

I started teaching college writing in 2005 when I was still an MA student, and my writing skills were  just a few steps ahead of my students’. Over the ensuing years, I’ve become a better writer, but each new cohort of students in my classroom faces struggles similar to those of the first students. As the distance between my struggles and my students’ struggles has become greater, I’ve had to think more analytically about my writing practice in order to be able to teach academic writing effectively. This is part of a series of blog posts about guiding students through different stages of the writing process.

This post focuses on revision, the stage of the writing process in which we think about ideas and organization, and also a stage of the writing process that my undergraduate students resist engaging in. (A discussion for another post!)

These strategies can be used in conjunction with one another or separately.

1) Topic-Information-Explanation*
Are your paragraphs actually paragraphs?

  • Check that each paragraph is about ONE topic, identified near the beginning of the paragraph.
  • Check that each paragraph includes new, important, interesting information about that topic. Information might be a quote/paraphrase from a source or a passage of text or a piece of data or a trend in the data.
  • Check that you have explained what that new information means or how it connects to other things in the project or why it matters

(NB: Of course accomplished writers produce paragraphs that don’t fit this structure. But this structure can help a struggling writer wrestle their ideas into coherent units.)

2) Transitions
Are your paragraphs logically connected to one another in the best order?

  • Sum up each paragraph with a single word or brief phrase in the margin. (This step is easier if you’ve done activity 1 above, but this activity can also stand alone.)
  • Looking only at the words in the margin figure out how each paragraph relates to the one after it. Only look at two paragraphs at a time (1-2, 2-3, 3-4, etc.). Common relationships include opposition, next idea in a process or sequence, move to larger category, move to smaller category, lateral move to another equal example. For example, if the words in the margin are knitting and crochet, the relationship might be that these are two equal examples of ways to make things with yarn.
  • In the space between each pair of paragraphs, write a transition sentence that a) names the topic above it, b) names the topic below it, and c) names the relationship between them. For example to get from a paragraph about knitting to a paragraph about crochet: In contrast to knitting’s use of two or more needles to produce fabric in rows or rounds, crochet uses a single hook and can be worked in a more free-form manner.
  • Decide whether the transition sentence fits better at the end of the paragraph above it or the beginning of the paragraph below it.
  • If you can’t write a logical transition sentence, then something is missing or something is not in the best order. Ask a second pair of eyes for help before despairing.Activity 2 can be scaled up to think about transitions among sections and among chapters. 

3) Does your thesis match your body?

  • A good thesis statement does three things. It a) names the topic, b) makes an argument or takes a stand, and c) offers a roadmap of how the body of the text will be organized.
  • Reread your thesis statement.
  • Check that the roadmap laid out in the thesis matched the sections of the body.
  • Check that the argument or stance in the thesis is the same argument or stance you are supporting thought the body.
  • It’s normal for the writer’s plan to develop and change over the course of writing. If there’s a mismatch between body and thesis, you have two basic choices: 1) add or remove information and ideas in the body to bring it back into line with the initial plan OR 2) change the thesis to match the body you’ve already written.

_______________________________

Notes and Resources

*This T-I-E structure is widely attested in writing pedagogy literature, particularly in resources about the five-paragraph essay. A helpful website is the PIE (point rather than topic) explanation from Asford Writing.

Agape Latte: Finding God in the Hardest Times

The student organizers of Agape Latte at Marymount invited me to give their first talk of the year on Tuesday, August 28, 2018. There are slight differences between the prepared text reproduced here and the audio recording.

(Audio only)

Just over five years ago, my life looked a lot different than it does now. I had just finished the third year of my PhD program at Purdue. I had completed all my required coursework, passed my comprehensive exams, and gotten approval from my committee for my dissertation plan. I was ready to hunker down and write. My dissertation felt like a pot just about to boil. I was so excited.

For those three years of coursework, my family had been living in two places. The kids and I were renting an Urban Cottage in Lafayette, Indiana, about two hours south of my husband Adam’s job, which was about one hour south of our Rambling Farmhouse in rural Michigan. Adam lived alone in Michigan and worked in his office Sunday night through Wednesday afternoon and lived in Lafayette with us and worked from Urban Cottage Wednesday evening through Sunday afternoon.

The plan for my fourth year was that we would switch. The kids would stay at Rambling Farmhouse with Adam full time, and I would take on the weekly commute so that I could be on campus to teach and to write in solitude.

Then, in an instant, everything changed.

Just over five years ago, on June 26th, 2013, Adam died. He was killed in a car accident while driving back from a lunch meeting with potential new clients. The accident was caused by an unlicensed teenage driver who ran a stop sign at high speed, struck his car, and spun him into oncoming traffic. She was joyriding with her boyfriend in her parents’ car, and the consequences of her choices rippled outward from the five lives involved in the accident that day to touch hundreds. Adam died instantly. The teenager, her boyfriend, and the two people in the third car involved walked away with minor physical injuries.

The police found the children and me at Rambling Farmhouse in the middle of the afternoon, and my first reaction to law enforcement officers on my doorstep was annoyance. We had just moved back from Lafayette—me just for the summer, and Adam and the kids for good—and the house was full of boxes.

That annoyance quickly gave way to a robotic pragmatism born of shock and preparedness. Adam’s death had been my worst fear. Suddenly, I was living my phobia come true.

The first summer that I lived at Rambling Farmhouse, Adam had to make a short business trip, and I remember being struck by how isolated I was. “If I were to scream, no one would hear me,” I realized, a sobering thought for a girl who grew up in a compact neighborhood where I could watch the neighbor’s television from my bedroom window.

I worried incessantly every time Adam traveled, which was often. We developed rituals. We said “I love you” every morning and every night, even when we didn’t like each other. He called or sent a text as soon as he arrived at his destination and right before he left to come home. Still, I worried. Adam finally said, “So what if I do die? It’s going to happen someday. What will you do?”

We talked about the answer to that question a lot. We purchased life insurance, we invested money appropriately for people our age. We discussed that we both would donate organs and tissues if we could, that we both would be cremated, that he wanted his funeral to be a celebration of the life that he had lived.  And I followed the plan. I called our most beloveds and asked them to call everyone else. With Adam’s best friend, I planned a funeral for the Sunday after the Wednesday he died. With my best friend, I unpacked all the boxes to make space for mourners to visit. With my mom, I found all the household bills and made sure they had been paid that month. I made an appointment with our financial planner. And then I ran out of plan.

I ran out of plan, and I felt like I was thinking through thick fog, like I didn’t have access to all of my brain. Even the simplest decisions were hard, and the hard ones were Sisyphean. My beloveds were amazing. They listened while I talked through choices slowly, and, though they offered their opinions and pointed out things I didn’t see, they let me make decisions, but those decisions were hard won. My thought process felt like driving at night in a heavy snowstorm when the snowflakes prevent the headlights from illuminating the road. I could only see as far as the fog. My brain built thoughts so very slowly, and I was powerless to do anything but wait for them to form.  Sometimes, I could feel the idea that would fill the gap, but I couldn’t assemble the words. I would stare at a problem, and the fog would just get thicker, and I would have to walk away.

I remember having read somewhere that sometimes a coma is the body’s way of making space for physical healing to happen. I realized the fog was like that, a protective blanket creating space for psychological healing. Despite my occasional frustration at my own plodding thoughts, I embraced the fog and tried to be patient.

Eventually, the fog began to dissipate, but this was a mixed blessing because then I found myself in a wilderness. It felt like I was surrounded by sharp rocks and thorn bushes, like I was standing on a barren landscape without trees or flowers or birds. The wilderness was dark and grey, and the path wasn’t clear. I felt simultaneously hemmed in and exposed.

The death of a highly significant person does not only cause you to feel grief for the end of one human life. It brings on a whole spectrum of secondary griefs. There is the loss of income or household labor and therefore a loss of financial security, the loss of support and partnership, the loss of dreams for the future. Most significant for me was the loss of my identity. Adam and I married in our early twenties and we had become adults together. After twelve years of marriage, I did not know how to be me without him as a partner. Adam used to reflect me back to me, so that I saw myself in his eyes. He was the reality check on the person I thought I was presenting to the world. He could separate the insecurities in my head from the flaws visible to others. He could see the potential that I doubted. The entire landscape of my life was altered in the instant that he died.

It was incredibly lonely. My people were nearby, my beloveds were unwavering in their support, but they could not enter my wilderness, they could not protect me from the rocks and the thorns, they could not tell me where the path was. They could only support me from the outside. And they each had their own grief, too.

There were times when everything I did caused pain. One day, folding laundry ended with sobbing because Adam’s things were mixed in with mine and the children’s. It felt like with every step I tried to take in this wilderness, I was tripping over rocks and falling onto thorns.

In times of tragedy and grief, it is not uncommon for people to blame God. To ask why God allows bad things to happen to good people. To be angry that God did not intervene to prevent the tragedy. Some of Adam’s friends and family expereinced this sort of crisis of faith and they couldn’t understand how I could keep going to church and praying and singing hymns after God had let our lives be ripped apart. I think the frustration reflected in those feelings is valid, but I think they misrepresent the way that God works in the world. God does not promise that our lives will be easy. A commitment to love God and to follow Jesus is not a protection from harm and tragedy. There is no “get out of tragedy free” card for the faithful. God is, however, there with us in the midst of our suffering. God grieves the brokenness of the world alongside us. God met me where I was in my pain and confusion and loss of identity.

My darkness, first the fog and then the wilderness full of rocks and thorns, lasted for months. In that time, though, there were also moments of crystal clear insight, resolutions I knew to be right and necessary. These came like bright beacons from a lighthouse, cutting through the fog to illuminate the path. At no other time in my life have I heard the still small voice of God so clearly. Have you ever seen the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail? You know the way the clouds open up, and God’s booming voice speaks to the human beings? Sometimes it felt like that, but with more support and less snark. In midst of confusion and indecision and flailing about in the darkness, suddenly I would just know.

One of those resolutions was the choice not to return to Purdue for my fourth year. I knew that what the children and I needed was to be at Rambling Farmhouse together and focused only on each other. I could not manage two households on my own, and I could not go back to teaching that fall. I was angry at being forced to make this choice, but I knew without a doubt that it was the only right one. Another moment of lighthouse-like insight was related to the teenage driver who caused the accident. Many of Adam’s beloveds experienced grief as anger directed toward her, and they wanted me to punish her and her family in court. They wanted me to insist that she be tried as an adult. They wanted me to sue the family for wrongful death in civil court. I did neither of those things. I participated in the restorative justice of the juvenile court system in that part of Michigan, and I assured the family that they would not be seeing me in civil court. These moments, moments of conviction in a confusing wilderness, these were the moments I knew that God was with me.

God is actually there all the time. God did not show up for me in the aftermath of tragedy in my life. God had been there all along. I just hadn’t been paying attention. I became aware of God’s presence in my wilderness because I stopped paying attention to everything else.

Not only was that fog insulating me from my own pain, it was isolating me from the world. After the funeral, it felt like we dropped out of time for a couple of weeks. The accident had made regional news, and no one who knew us did not know about it. All of our social obligations evaporated, and we retreated into ourselves. That isolation from the world means space for God.

My children and I, however, are not called to the life of hermits. Eventually we reentered the world, and I took up my research in absentia. We sold Rambling Farmhouse and moved to Arlington, and I finished my dissertation one year later than planned. And in all the noise of these obligations, God’s still small voice is less and less apparent, those lighthouse-like insights don’t stand out against the brightness of the world. The most important thing that grief has taught me is that God is always there.

So, why did I tell you all of this? Honestly, talking about it in public always makes me feel a little bit narcissistic, like I’m using all of you as my therapist. But really, I think we don’t talk enough about death and grief in twenty-first-century American culture. We’ve built an impenetrable wall around death and what happens after and given it over to the funeral industry. We’ve medicated away the feelings that come with this kind of profound change. And so, talking about it is my modest, one-woman act of resistance. When I read the prompt in Gustavo’s e-mail, that I should talk about “what has God done in your life,” the still small voice said, “you have to tell them about the voice of God in the wilderness.” And I knew it to be true.

Before I conclude, I’d like to note that not all hardest times are the same. Certainly other people have hardest times that are more complex than mine, but I think that hardest times can’t actually be compared across lives. I can know intellectually that my refugee neighbors have lost whole sections of their family tree and are now separated from everything they knew, and I can recognize that this is a more complex grief than my husband’s death while my community remained intact, but that experience is still the most awful thing that has ever happened to me.

I sincerely hope that this kind of grief experience—the loss of a person whose presence in your life shaped who you were, the loss of your soul mate, your best friend, your partner, your parent, your child—I hope that this kind of grief is a long way off for each of you. But someday, I’m sorry to say, it will be your turn. Someday, you’ll be grieving a loss that strips you of your identity and shakes the foundations on which you’ve built your life. Someday it will be you. I fervently pray that when that happens, your people rally around you like my people did. I hope they hold space for you to learn to see your wilderness and to begin to find your way through. And I hope that you can see God there, always with you.

You will also experience griefs that has nothing to do with death, and these may take you by surprise. Just over five years ago, I did not know that my life was going to change. That time, change was sudden and unexpected. These days, I find myself at the edge of radical change again, though for different reasons. My temporary contract with Marymount ends with graduation at the end of this academic year, and I don’t know what comes next. The academic job market in the humanities is brutal. There are at least a hundred applicants for every position in my field of study. It is more than likely that I will not find another teaching job in higher ed when this one ends.

There are non-academic jobs that I am qualified for and might even enjoy doing. I’ve even applied for some of them. The more I contemplate this possibility, the more I realize that not being a professor any longer would be as great a change to my identity as not being a wife any longer was. And I’m trying to make space in my busy modern life where the noise of the world can fade away so that I might hear that still small voice again.

 

Responding to Literature with Creativity

In my 200-level World Literature: The Middle Ages survey course, students end the semester with a group creative project. The prompt is deliberately vague to encourage creative thinking:

You will work in a small group (2-4) students to develop a webpage, board game, video, piece of art, listicle, Buzzfeed-style quiz or other creative work related to the content of this course. You might use recently developed software applications to make a Timeline or a Storymap for a particular text, a region of the medieval world, or a particular century. Your group’s project may focus on one or a group of texts on the syllabus. Alternatively, the creative project may focus more broadly on the literary or cultural concepts we discuss. Project proposals must be approved by the instructor no later than 4 weeks before the due date, but you may form your group and begin working at any time during the semester. Method of submission will be specific to the type of project. Each member of the group will also write an individual reflection on the project (2 pages in MLA format, submitted on Canvas).

Last spring, most student groups created board games, some of which were actually fun to play. This spring, many students created websites, videos, or electronic games. This post is a compilation of those which the students have made publicly available.

  1. Who Is Your Medieval Match? – This Buzzfeed quiz asks you deep, personal questions in order to match you with a character from medieval world literature who matches your values.
  2. Frame Narrative – This website uses the architecture of the site to mimic the layers of frames characteristic of frame narratives from a variety of cultures.
  3. A Thousand and One Nights: A Contribution to the Original Book – This website, with beautiful artwork collected from a variety of online sources, offers a basic overview of the frame narrative of Sheherazade. Amusingly, these students invented a university on their About page.
  4. Ibn Battuta, Moroccan Scholar – This timeline uses text from the Travels paired with maps of the regions described to follow Battuta on his journey.
  5. This video, taken with iPhone screen recording technology, tells “The Parable of the Swords” from Petrus Alfonsi’s The Scholar’s Guide: http://youtu.be/DsL6sLDxAdg

I share these projects here despite my reservations about some of the students’ casual relationship to attribution of elements they slurp from Google searches. How to create a website that is “a good example of what it is” (one of the criteria for grading this assignment) while also meeting the standards of academic scholarship for sourcing and attribution is a conversation that my students and I continue to have. For example, this semester a student taught me how to use the “inspect element” command to see the source for an image, which is not something the MLA style guide discusses.

The School Paper as Genre

You might be thinking that the school paper–thesis driven, topic sentences in each paragraphs, logical transitions, adhering to an academic style guide MLA, APA, or Chicago–is an artificial one, a genre that most students won’t use after commencement. And you might be right. I would counter, though, that first-year composition students have three more years of working in this genre ahead of them–more if they pursue graduate study–and there is value in preparing them to work in a genre that occurs only in the academic environment. Their scholar-professors in their major classes write and read thesis-driven, highly structured, style-guide-following scholarly articles all the time, and most of them expect students to turn in work that demonstrates progressive levels of mastery of this form. The school papers that seniors submit in their major classes should be starting to look like they might be able to be revised into a scholarly article.

Beyond the classroom, though, the principles of the school paper retain value even as the genres in which we write look less and less like the scholarly article. Most feature articles, op-eds, and blog posts have a guiding thesis, even if it is implied and can’t be underlined. The topic-information-explanation paragraph structure that I teach my students makes for solid presentation of information in formats ranging from snap and tweet to professional memo and e-mail. And every workplace, *every single one,* has a house style that guides the way work must be presented, whether that work is an engineering drawing, patient notes, or newspaper article. Being able to compare their work against the model and revise as needed will stand my students in good stead with future bosses.

I’ve been really frustrated by the lack of good models to share with students for the school paper. It’s one of the biggest challenges of teaching the compulsory composition sequence for first year students. Most first year students are not ready to read academic journal articles. They just haven’t taken the introductory classes in other disciplines that would allow them to make sense of the content and the vocabulary. Composition readers include either professionally written essays or model student papers, the former can be engaging, but don’t generally use the kind of thesis-driven model that the students are being asked to write, while the latter are often contrived and uninteresting. My current university’s composition program uses public writing such as feature articles from The Atlantic, The New Yorker, and The Washington Post, but like the professional essays collected in the readers, these rarely have an overtly stated thesis, and they lack the sort of internal paragraph structure that we ask students to produce. Some faculty have success using student work from previous semesters, but this requires obtaining and tracking permission, and the work is only marginally better than that which the new students are producing themselves.

I had an epiphany today–my current university has an journal of undergraduate non-fiction writing. My colleague who is the faculty advisor has a shelf of annual volumes full of exactly the kind of writing the students in the compulsory first year composition course should be working toward as they move through their liberal arts core and major classes. So in my summer section of our EN101 course, rather than reading and discussing public writing while struggling to produce school papers, the students will be reading and discussing articles from Magnificat, while striving to produce work in that same genre. These articles have been written by students like my students, not professionals. The writers have a genuine interest in the topics they have chosen. These student writers have opted-in to having their work published with their names attached, and the articles have been through several rounds of revision to reach their current form.

I’m really looking forward to piloting this choice of reading material for the department.

Update:

This pilot of reading from Magnificat was successful with the students in my summer intensive section of composition. The students were able to engage with the ideas in the articles and were also able to notice and critique the structural elements that I was requiring of them in the writing they were producing. These articles will definitely be on the syllabus of my fall section of the course.

Writing Our Stories with Hooks and Needles Timeline

From medieval romances to twenty-first century novels, textile arts and food production are a medium through which otherwise marginalized female voices find expression, and this project examines the varied means by which women in patriarchal societies enact agency through their reproductive labor, particularly the ways in which women’s reproductive labor works to create and maintain community.  In March of 2018, I presented a portion of this project, “Writing Our Stories with Hooks and Needles: Literary Women’s Voices in Textiles,” at Creative Bodies, Creative Minds, an interdisciplinary conference hosted by the University of Graz. The scholarly interest that inspires this project is further informed by my own engagement in writing, textile arts, and food production, and my experience of these as creative acts that allow me to participate in shaping my own communities.

This research project is in its nascent stage. The timeline below serves as a data collection point for examples of narrative textiles, both historical artifacts and textiles represented in literature, created by women.

(external link to the timeline)

 

 

Professor Watchlist

You’ve probably heard Marin Niemollar’s poem “First They Came.” It starts like this:

First they came for the Communists
And I did not speak out
Because I was not a Communist

If you’re like me, you think, “I would have spoken out.” And then you wonder, “Would I really?”

Now, they are coming for the professors, and I am speaking out because I am a professor, and I ask that you speak out, too. The Professor Watchlist is dangerous and unnecessary. It challenges the principle of academic freedom, which protects the ideas of both faculty and students, and it circumvents the existing structures of governance and mediation within institutions of higher education.

According to their “About Us” page,

The mission of Professor Watchlist is to expose and document college professors who discriminate against conservative students, promote anti-American values, and advance leftist propaganda in the classroom.

The watchlist is sponsored by Turning Point USA, an organization that promotes free-market principles on campuses.

My colleagues and I take academic freedom seriously, both for us and for our students. The best classroom environment is one that includes a variety of voices and points of view.

We also take discrimination seriously. I work hard to let my students know that they are welcome in my classroom even when they disagree with me. In fact, I encourage disagreement and questioning.

A classroom that welcomes a diversity of viewpoints and encourages questioning is not always a comfortable one. In fact, it is often uncomfortable for some of the students and for the professor. That discomfort is the result of having your assumptions challenged, the result of being asked to support those assumptions with facts and logic, the result of coming face to face with someone whom you respect but who disagrees with you. That discomfort is the result of growth.

This is not to say that all professors are perfect on all days. As in any profession, there are bad actors. There are professors who bully their students. There are professors who do not stand up for the minority voices in the classroom. There are professors who let prejudice interfere with teaching. In those situations, though, every college and university has a process for complaints.

If you or a student you know find yourself in a classroom that belittles your point of view or punishes you for holding it, don’t go to The Professor Watchlist. Deal with the problem where it is.

  1. Document everything. What did the professor say? When did he say it? In what context (office hours, class discussion)? Keep notes in a place where you will be able to find them again. Save any e-mails you send in future steps as part of the documentation, too.
  2. Raise your specific concerns with the chair (or head) of the department in which the professor teaches. “She was mean to me” is not a specific concern. “She laughed at me for believing in God during class last Tuesday” is a specific  concern.
  3. Make notes about what the department chair tells you will be done. Ask how and when the chair will follow up with you. Add this information to your documentation.
  4. Give the chair the time you have agreed on to act before you escalate to the next level.
  5. If the chair does not follow through, repeat steps 2 and 3 with the dean of the school the department is part of.
  6. If the dean does not follow through, repeat steps 2 and 3 with the provost (some institutions do not have this position).
  7. If the provost does not follow through, repeat steps 2 and 3 with the university president.

Alternatively, many colleges and universities also have an ombudsperson, whose job it is to mediate conflicts on campus. Though employed by the institution, an ombudsperson’s task is to act as an advocate and guide for any member of the community with a grievance.

Adding someone to The Professor Watchlist won’t solve problems. Taking complaints through the system at the college or university will.