Faculty on Writing
Professor: Dr. Laura Reissner
Interviewed By: Amanda Kivioja
Date: September 27, 2005
Dr. Laura Reissner is an associate professor in the School of Education, Leadership and Public Service at Northern Michigan University. Having graduated from West Virginia University with her Ed.D. in Special Education, Dr. Reissner has been teaching undergraduate and graduate level courses at NMU for ten years. Currently, Dr. Reissner teaches special education classes that include:
- Special Education and the General Classroom Teacher
- Teaching Life Skills to Students with Disabilities
- Assistive Technology for Students with Disabilities
- Diagnosis and Assessment in Special Education
- Introduction to Emotional Impairment
- Curriculum and Methods for Teaching Students with Emotional Impairment
- Supervised Apprenticeship in Teaching Students with Emotional Impairment in K-12 Settings
- Special Education in the Schools
- Organization and Management of Programs for Students with Learning Disabilities
- Special Education Student Teacher Supervision
Because of her many years of experience, Dr. Reissner has developed strong views on the importance of good writing skills, professional writing pieces, and the Writing Center.
A member of the academic community for 14 years, Dr. Reissner feels that it is important to know how to write. Not only does writing help a writer share and clarify his or her ideas, it helps a writer make connections to the world around him or her as well. Individually, Dr. Reissner uses several different types of writing in her own work. Along with letters of recommendation and program reviews, she has conference proceedings on Emergent literacy for children at risk for reading difficulty and Attention Deficit/ Hyperactivity Disorder (AD/HD). Presently, she is working on a journal article on AD/HD. Because of the noticeable writing requests placed upon her, Dr. Reissner will be the first to point out that good writing skills are used far beyond college graduation.
As an educator of future teachers, Dr. Reissner believes that being a good writer is vital to future success. She requires all of her students, regardless of course or level, to complete writing assignments. Each assignment is given for a different reason. For example, Dr. Reissner assigns research papers so that her students are able to increase their own knowledge about a subject. She also assigns assessment reports and other types of writing that are expected of teachers so that her students will have experience writing for their profession. All of Dr. Reissner’s assignments act as preparation for future writing.
Dr. Reissner expects high-quality writing from her students because of the importance of her assignments. She understands that not everyone is an expert writer, but she expects all of her students to put forth their best effort by organizing ideas, revising properly, and following assignment guidelines. Specifically, she expects her students to be able to take ideas from other writers and cite them properly to create professional, non-judgmental pieces of writing. If a student is unable to meet these expectations without some assistance, then Dr. Reissner does not hesitate to recommend that the student visit the Writing Center.
As a strong supporter of the Writing Center, Dr. Reissner always encourages her students to utilize the services that it provides. Having another person read a writer’s piece can be quite helpful, so Dr. Reissner feels that receiving feedback is a necessity. According to Dr. Reissner, “Feedback helps you clarify your points, helps you see where your case is not being presented clearly, and helps confirm that you are on the right track with an idea or topic.” Furthermore, she believes that organization is a key component to a good piece of writing. Each student should organize thoughts and start assignments early enough to thoroughly develop their ideas. Although Dr. Reissner feels that all of the steps in the writing process are important, she believes that writing multiple drafts is essential to writing successfully. She is aware that the time in-between drafts can help a writer concentrate on the intended audience, what he or she is trying to say, and other ideas that influence the thought process. That time can be put to good use at the Writing Center.
All in all, Dr. Reissner knows how helpful the Writing Center can be, and she is impressed with students who visit it. Like many other instructors, she appreciates when a student is willing to put effort into writing an assignment for her class. She realizes that students who go to the Writing Center are not only trying to improve their piece of writing for her class, but they are also trying to improve their abilities as a writer in general.