Wrd 301 Formal Report

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    Publicity and Power Structure Discipline in High

    School

    Jessica Shamshura

    WRD 301: Writing In Workplace Contexts

    Professor Sarah Read

    June 1, 2012

    Table of Contents

    .....................................................................................................................Introduction 2...................................................................................................Methods/Procedures 2

    ................................................................................................Background of Interviewee 3..........................................................................................................................Interview One 3.........................................................................................................................Interview Two 3

    ..............................................................................................................Secondary Research 3..................................................................................................Results & Discussion 4

    .........................................................................................................................................Thesis 4........................................................................................................................Genre Analysis 4

    ......................................................................................................Content 4.....................................................................................................Structure 5

    ........................................................................................................Format 5......................................................................................Linguistic Features 5......................................................................................Rhetorical Appeals 5

    ..............................................................................................................................................GEM 6......Figure 1: Genre Ecology Map (GEM) of a high school Discipline Referral. 6

    ..................................................................................................References 9....................................................................................................................Attachments 9

    ................................................................................................................Discipline Referral 9

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    Introduction

    This report is the result of a quarter long project assigned in a Writing in Workplace

    Contexts class at DePaul University. The purpose of this project was to research the

    function of writing in a workplace of choice and report findings in a step by step processincluding business letters, formal reports, memos, and finally a formal report.

    This formal report focuses on Administrator Xs writing in the setting of a suburban

    public high school. More specifically, how the genre of a Discipline Referral plays a role

    in his position as well as incorporates co-workers and others around him. Through

    conducting interviews and secondary research and creating a genre ecology map, an

    analysis of how publicity (laws and visibility to public) and power shape a Discipline

    Referral is developed.

    There is a very strict written process for the implementation of discipline, especially formajor infractions, which will be discussed in detail later. However, that is not to speak to

    the culture of the high school workplace as a whole. A lot of talking in passing is done

    among administrators, however it should not be put off as unimportant. Like researcher

    Peter C. Gronn says in his article Talk as the Work: The Accomplishment of School

    Administration:

    Not only do administrators spend much of their time talking and that this talking

    accomplishes administration, but that talk is used to do the work of tightening and

    loosening administrative control (1).

    This speaks to the way in which administrators have power. And though a Discipline

    Referral, and all other forms of writing that are involved, have strict guidelines via the

    Discipline and Referral Guideline Handbook, there is still a lot of unwritten work that is

    just as important to the genre of a Discipline Referral.

    Methods/Procedures

    In order to fully complete this report, two types of research were used. First, were two

    interviews with a high school administrator X, which became the primary source for this

    report. Then, information from articles found through Google Scholar became the

    secondary source. Compiling the two types of sources with knowledge gained in Writing/

    Workplace Contexts allowed for the completion of this report.

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    Background of Interviewee

    Administrator X has been a part of his current district for six years. He has been at his

    current high school (the one used in this study) for the past four years, but before that he

    was a teachers assistant for one year and taught for one year at another high school in the

    district. He teaches in the English department and this past year was promoted to Dean ofStudents. He now teaches for half the day and administers the other half. As Dean, he is

    responsible for students attendance and disciplinary actions.

    Interview One

    The purpose of the first interview was to gain a wide range of background information

    about the high school; more specifically as a workplace for an administrator. Topics

    discussed were the types of writing administrator X did, the specific people who he was

    communicating with, and how writing has changed since he first entered the workplace.

    It was a face-to-face interview carried out on April 26, 2012 in administrator Xs office.

    All notes of the interview were typed by the interviewer.

    Interview Two

    The purpose of the second interview was to focus in on a more specific genre of writing

    (a discipline referral) within the workplace. Topics discussed were the administrator Xs

    role in a discipline referral, the role of other co-workers in a discipline referral, and other

    pieces of writing that came as a result of a discipline referral. The function and structure

    of a referral were a large part of the conversation, as well. Again, it was a face-to-face

    interview carried out on May 21, 2012 in administrator Xs office. All notes of theinterview were typed by the interviewer.

    Secondary Research

    When it came to secondary research, it was difficult to find information about writing in

    terms of high school staff instead of high school students. However, using Google

    Scholar helped find the article titled Talk as the Work: The Accomplishment of School

    Administration. Although the article was less about writing and more about talking it

    still helped prove that talking is an inevitable aspect of administrative work. This article

    supplemented the two interviews done with Administrator X well.

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    Results & Discussion

    Thesis

    A Discipline Referral acts as the initial step in archiving a discipline report. It is the most

    important aspect of Administrator Xs job and, in comparison to all other communication

    in the work place, one of the most strict genres. However, there is less strict talking that

    plays an important role in Discipline Referrals. While allowing the student to share their

    story, a Discipline Referral shows that the staff holds authority. A Discipline Referral

    establishes legitimacy and efficiency based on publicity and power relationships

    Genre Analysis

    Content

    Within the one double sided page of a Discipline Referral (attached at the end of the

    report) is included the students identification information, infraction, staff statement,

    student statement, action, and next incident action.

    The students identification information is a small portion of the document

    containing name, date, I.D. number, and time (period) of infraction.

    The infraction section allows the staff member to select from a list of given

    infractions.

    The staff statement section is where the staff can write out his/her own personal

    interpretation of the scenario.

    The student statement is where the student has the opportunity to admit or deny the

    claim as well and write out his/her own personal interpretation of the scenario.

    The action section allows the staff in charge of discipline (an administrator) to

    select from a list of given consequences.

    The next incident section allows the staff in charge of discipline (an administrator)

    to select, from a smaller list of given consequences, what will happen if the student

    happens to commit the infraction again.

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    Structure

    The structure of a Discipline Referral is organized chronologically. First the staff member

    establishes the infraction. Then, the student has the opportunity to respond. Both of these

    must be done before a punishment can be enforced, which is what comes next on theDiscipline Referral. And finally, beyond present tense possible future actions are

    established, as well.

    Format

    The format of a Discipline Referral is multiple choice with minimal room for explanation

    or details. Both sides of the scenario as well as consequences are all covered in one page.

    This is because the form is a tool to gather relevant information in a way that can be

    easily summarized and presented. It should be quick to fill out as it is only used for data

    collection purposes and a more detailed account of the scenario gets discussed ifnecessary.

    Linguistic Features

    The style of writing necessary to complete a Discipline Referral is very dry and to the

    point. In fact, all the infractions are previously established and the students actions must

    fit into one of sixty-two descriptions (there is a choice other that provides some room

    for variation). This puts a reasonable limit on Discipline Referrals in order to achieve

    efficiency. Otherwise each scenario could be described as a different infraction. Also,

    staff and students are only given 3-5 lines to claim their side of the situation.

    There is also room for variation in the staff and student statements. However, staff must

    be particular in their wording. The use of relative terms such as better are to be

    avoided. According to administrator X, they may not use words such as jerk or other

    derogatory terms. Basically, everything is a euphemism he said. This is for reasons of

    publicity. If the Discipline Referral were to end up becoming evidence in a police report

    (as they often do in serious situations) the staff member has to seem as unbiased and

    professional as possible.

    Rhetorical Appeals

    In a Discipline Referral the appeal to logos comes from the chronological order of the

    document as well as the space provided for written explanation. The staff makes their

    claim and the student is given the opportunity to admit or deny the scenario before an

    action is determined. Also, the space for a written explanation shows that there is reason

    behind the selection of one of sixty-three preexisting infractions.

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    The appeal to ethos comes from each particular staff statement. Keeping in mind the

    language they are supposed to be using due to possible publicity, staff can show their

    character. Even though they have the power in the situation, staff members still use

    euphemisms to make themselves worth listening too and not just seem like angry

    attackers on students.

    The Discipline Referral document gives minimal opportunity for an appeal to pathos,

    mostly because of its nature of legitimacy and efficiency. However, it cannot be denied

    that the student statement often appeals to emotions. Students are, undoubtedly, trying to

    avoid punishment and when they are actually in the wrong emotions are their main

    appeal.

    GEM

    The Genre Ecology Map presented in Figure 1(below) shows how a Discipline Referralgoes far beyond a one page written document. There are varying situations calling for

    various documents beyond the Discipline Referral itself as well as the involvement of

    multiple players.

    Figure 1: Genre Ecology Map (GEM) of a high school Discipline Referral.

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    Intertextuality

    A Discipline Referral stems from two situations; a minor infraction or a major infraction.

    As can be seen in the GEM, a minor infraction is usually accompanied by a Write-up Slip

    which is often not converted into a Discipline Referral unless it happens multiple times.

    Major infractions, however, are immediately turned into Discipline Referrals. Thedifference between a major infraction and a minor infraction are distinguished in the

    Discipline and Referral Guideline Handbook, which will be discussed in more detail later.

    Stemming from the Discipline Referral are things such as Database Entry, Letters Home,

    and Police Reports. Database Entry is simply a form of efficiency and a tool for storing

    information. Like Spinuzzi says, Database Entry is the use of one genre to provide a

    permanent record of another. It is nothing more than a transfer of information done by the

    Secretaries. This shows the distribution of power and who is in charge of how much.

    However, it is nevertheless an important aspect of the GEM in Figure 1 because with out

    this information transfer organization would be difficult.

    Letters Home become the next step of the process getting parents involved in disciplinary

    actions. Not only is another document brought into the picture, but another player as well.

    Letters Home are formal documents written by administrators. There are templates of

    Letters Home for each type of infraction. Again, this is a tool for efficiency. Further

    stemming from Letters Home are the potential for E-mails from parents. Though

    administrators cannot formally E-mail parents about Discipline Referrals, parents can

    start that line of communication.

    In terms of carrying out the actual consequences, a Discipline and Referral Guideline

    Handbook is brought into the picture. Since there has to be uniformity across

    punishments the Handbook creates it. Though Administrators typically have the most

    power in this type of situation, they still have to be kept under some control.

    When Discipline Referrals go beyond school administrative control, Police and Police

    Reports are introduced into the GEM. Again in reference to Spinuzzis intertextuality, the

    Discipline Referral is able to be attached to the Police Report. The Discipline Referral

    then becomes evidence in a case that is taken beyond the high school disciplinary control.

    Overall, there is constant interaction happening while carrying out disciplinary actions,

    whether it is between Administrators and their Secretaries, Administrators and parents, or

    Administrators and outside forces such as Police. Though documents vary from

    interaction to interaction, they all stem from a Discipline Referral and an Administrator

    and that is what makes them intertextual...