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About John Warner


For Education Professionals

Why They Can’t Write: Killing the five-Paragraph Essay and OTher Necessities

Many of the structures and limitations of K-12 education privilege the creation of writing imitations, rather than asking students to engage with genuine and meaningful writing occasions, creating a disconnect between what instructors expect from students and what students think they’re being asked to do. What do higher ed professionals need to know about this phenomenon, and how can we help students be better prepared for the writing challenges of post-secondary education?

The Writer’s Practice: A Framework for Understanding How Writers Work

All writers have a “practice”: the attitudes, skills, knowledge and habits of mind which are at work simultaneously as they engage with the act of writing. A more mindful approach to the writer’s practice is a benefit for both instructors and students, a way to better understand how we go about our own writing and helping students to become mindful about what’s expected of them in the classroom.

Teaching Writing-Related Problems: Minding the Gap Between Student Experience and Instructor Expectations

When we ask students to write an “essay,” what do they believe they’re being asked to do? What if what students think they’re being asked to do and what instructors want students to do reveals a disconnect? Framing writing assignments as “writing-related problems” is a way to bridge the gap between student understanding of writing occasions and instructor expectations.

Grading as an Expression of Your Values: A Process for Re-thinking Assessment

How does grading make you feel? How often do you experience negative emotions around the work of grading? Is there a way to make grading a positive experience for both instructors and students? The answer is yes, as long as it’s done in a way that’s consistent with your pedagogical values. This talk offers a way to help develop the questions which will allow you to secure the answers which will be most beneficial to you and your students.

The Adjunct Problem and Local Solutions

The “adjunctification” of higher ed faculty is a national problem that, for the most part, only has local solutions. A framework for helping to understand the local conditions of the non-tenured workforce, and offering incremental steps towards improving conditions which will benefit all faculty, not just adjuncts.

Getting Personal and Going Public: A Process for Reflection and Writing from Your Teaching

A reflective process helps instructors to both to better understand the origins and impacts of one’s pedagogy and move towards writing about these issues for the broader public. In other words, this is a way to bridge public perceptions of the “Ivory Tower,” with the reality of most faculty’s day-to-day work.


For Students

If Nothing Else, There’s Always Law School: How to Survive (and Thrive) in the World with that (Supposedly) “Useless” Degree

I have not one, not two, but three English degrees and yet, have managed to thrive in a variety of professional situations including law and marketing research. Why? Because of those supposedly “useless” degrees. This talk helps students see the connections between what they’re studying in school and the wider world. Useful for students of any major who are perhaps questioning the relevance of humanistic studies.

Who’s That Person at the Front of the Room? (And Other Questions Students Should Be Able to Answer About College)

What is the difference between a college and a university? What is the job of a professor? What role do students play in their institution and what do they need to know to better fulfill their own goals? Many students have only surface-level knowledge about the structure and purpose of higher education institutions, but if they knew more, they can make better choices for their own well-being. This talk helps students better understand how institutions function and how to see their role as partners or collaborators with the college or university, rather than a “customer.

But I Don’t Know How to Do That: How to Survive The Unknown

At some point, everyone will be tasked with doing something they really don’t know how to do and be offered little assistance to help figure out what they don’t know. It may be in school, or after graduation. It may come without warning. There’s a method to surviving those situations rooted in what and how we learn in school contexts, provided we learn to see the connections between school and the wider world.

Don’t Worry About Your Career, Start with a Job

Sometimes it seems like everyone else knows what they want to do and exactly how to go about doing it. I was never one of those people, but I’ve learned that not only is this okay, it may even be beneficial. As students consider their initial post-graduate years, they shouldn’t worry about a career path, and instead focus on taking the first step towards a sustainable life.

For All Audiences

Luck and the Writing Life

How to catch a break (or three) as a writer/artist/entrepreneur and use that “luck” to build a sustainable, meaningful career rooted in a community of like-minded people.

So You Want to Write Something Funny?

A method and approach for learning how to translate your everyday skills of observation and inference into relatable humorous writing, including for publication.

I Laugh, Therefore I Am

A theory and approach which puts humor as a central aspect of living a fulfilled and mindful life in service to others.