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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

It is the week before finals week at MSU, and that means it's wrap up time for the semester for the university and the writing center as well. That doesn't mean that there won't be summer classes, and we won't still provide consulting during the summer. But, it has a different, more relaxed feeling and I'm curious about what consulting will be like in the summer. I'm sure that traffic will be slower, but will consulting be different? Do any of you have experience with "slower traffic seasons" in the writing center? If so, please share.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I've been thinking a lot about Mary's last post. Ultimately I have to disagree with her because I have and rank advancement though the Writing Center. It is my carreer and my schools seems dedicated to making the position viable. I suppose some schools are not committed to that. Ultimately this is the argument that WC director's posistions should always be faculty positions. I should think, however, that such a person should be hired as WC specialists and be treated fairly in tenure reviews. I know that has not happened in the past for some folks, despite their publishing record etc. I've never seen the WC as a safe haven. On the other had I see it as a somewhat radical place where new ideas about education can be bandied about.

Friday, April 16, 2004

>While I was reading this I suddenly had the (I would say sad) thought that despite all of any WC director's work, people who work there are probably not going to have the commitment level that she or he has since, ultimately, many folks don't work in writing centers as a carreer. It is for them, perhaps, just a weigh station. It is something to do before you get you finish up your work and move on to the real job.<

I'm new to PeerCentered, so I thought I'd begin by responding to this post. My title is English Instructional Skills Specialist for the English Learning Center at Palo Alto College, a position I've held for five years. Yes, that's right, five years. Awfully long time to pause at a "weigh station," don't you think?

I honestly didn't come into this job on my way to something else. I came into this job on my way OUT of something else. I taught high school for three years before I came to the community college. At the end of those three years, I'd had quite enough. I needed a change, so here I am. Initially, I didn't think beyond this position. When I came in the door, I was told that no one stayed here longer than two years. Most went on to obtain their MAs and secure faculty positions. That made sense enough, I suppose. I was in no hurry to do that. This is a comfy gig. I am full-time instructional staff, and I am also a member of the adjunct faculty. I have the best of both worlds. Why change?

After five years, I'm starting to see why. There is no way up or across for me. At this college district, there are no job descriptions that represent a promotion for me or even allow me to transfer laterally. I'm stuck exactly where I am. My only way out is the same way out that everyone before me has taken. Unless I can be content with what I have (which is lovely, don't get me wrong), I will find myself mired in a position that will cap out in salary in my tenth year and will offer me few new challenges once the center is well and truly established, which it should be at that point. My clock is ticking.

Note: I didn't come in the door with MA in hand. I came with a BA, graduate hours, secondary teaching certification, and adult ed experience. So why don't I have the MA and the faculty position yet?

I saw no need to press for the degree until recently. I took a course here, a course there, just to satisfy my own desire for knowledge. I had the career in my pocket, and the college has been quite content with me and my performance. Times are uncertain these days. Budgets are tight, and no one's job is safe. If I get the axe, where do I go?

Back to high school. I was good at that. I really was, but that's not where my heart is. I love the community college, and I'd like to stay. In order to stay, I think I'm going to have to grow, like it or not.

You see, some people DO come to the writing center looking for a career. The problem is that the writing center just isn't a very good career option, not unless this is something you are coming to near retirement. Chances are, you won't be looking to grow, advance. You'll be safe and snug. Writing centers are good at providing safe and snug. Careers, unfortunately, can't really be safe and snug if they are to be truly successful. They must be a little risky, mustn't they?

Friday, April 09, 2004

We had a great training session yesterday. My impression of involvement is assuaged I think.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

I made a vow awhile back to not write about the lack of participation here from peer writing tutors despite my efforts to draw folks in. I have to break that now because I've been bothered recently by, for want of better terms, the dedication to WC work by folks who work in writing centers. I guess these thoughts started when I was reading WCENTER and a conversation about methods to get peer tutors to fill out appropriate (and I would argue essential) report forms. It would seem that some peer tutors were "too busy" with their own school work to take the time to fill out the forms that notify instructors of what went on in an individual session.

The WCENTER conversation then turned towards general commitment levels of WC folks (and in particular graduate students). Chris LeCluyse from UT Austin writes

The thornier issue is how graduate students see themselves in the center, and how they relate the work they do there to their own studies and professional goals. Grad students may overlook writing center procedure simply because they have too many plates spinning as it is, or they may not think that such procedures are important because they don't feel fully invested in the work they do at the center. As a former English grad student, I'm familiar with the initial disorientation of teaching writing and working as a writing consultant ("But wait, I *do* literature!").

While I was reading this I suddenly had the (I would say sad) thought that despite all of any WC director's work, people who work there are probably not going to have the commitment level that she or he has since, ultimately, many folks don't work in writing centers as a carreer. It is for them, perhaps, just a weigh station. It is something to do before you get you finish up your work and move on to the real job.

I suppose, ultimately, one would be expecting far too much for folks who work in writing centers to feel that they can be a part of the development of the field and writing center work. Ultimately that is why PeerCentered never seems to go anywhere.

Nice idea, perhaps. Wrong audience.

Meh--what a depressing post.