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Wednesday, June 04, 2008

RMPTC Revisited

Brazen excuse time: Because of the hectic--hectic, I tell you!--spring semester, my bloggy presence was rather lackluster, if not bordering on the non-existent. But one of the topics that I wanted to blog about and didn't get to because of my incredible lack of mad organizational skillz was the Rocky Mountain Peer Tutoring Conference that took place in Boise, Idaho. (If you like, you can easily jog your memory of this conference by scrolling down and re-reading the posts that were written about this event.)

I thought the conference was a huge success, despite my presence. That, my friends, is a clear marker of success. One of the pleasures for me (besides grazing at the stellar dessert table) was getting to meet other consultants and tutors from other areas of the country. Whoever came up with the "Game Night" idea is brilliant (no, it wasn't me), as it allowed the local BSU consultants to easily connect and socialize with those that had made the trip from out-of-town. Nothing really brings people together like losing spectacularly at "Last Word" (well, that's been my experience.)

The only difficulty that I had with the conference (and we should all have such difficulties) was in choosing which presentations I would get to attend. The list was diverse--I more than once struggled in choosing between equally interesting, but concurrent sessions. I felt the need, for example, to attend Miranda Burningham's "Breaking Down Writer's Block," but I was sufficiently intrigued by Jared Odd's presentation entitled "Grab Feet, Hold to Fire." (I opted for "Fire.") Upon reflection, I'm sure that there were no wrong choices.

Jared's style was engaging and inclusive. His main argument--that tutors need to ask the difficult questions of writers and not unnecessarily coddle them--had me reflecting on my own consulting style. Jared made the point that difficult questions could be posed in a tactful way, and would indeed benefit the writer. I think his presentation made me realize that, as trite as it sounds, honesty is still the best policy; don't avoid the difficult patches--confront them in a positive way.

Sharing the same session was Charlotte Clark from BYU, who was simply dynamic. Her effusive (infectious? irresistible? all of the above?) speaking style was perfectly suited for her topic: "Lessons Learned from Inspirational Teachers." Charlotte did have notes, but for the most part she energetically riffed off the crowd, encouraging us to share positive teaching stories with each other. All throughout her lecture she connected with her audience (seemingly, with little effort)--which only empahsized how important the role of inspiration could be in pedagogy.

One session that I missed was BSU's Elizabeth Chilbert's "When Roles Collide: On Being a Writing Center Tutor and Composition Instructor." Luckily, for me, it was published in the Spring 2008 edition of Praxis, and I was able to at least read it. If you're a fan of Seinfeld, it's mandatory reading. Check it out: http://projects.uwc.utexas.edu/praxis/?q=node/211

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