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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Don't Let the Love Die!

Here at the ol' BSU WC, times are a gonna change. The director and a few of the key grad students are heading off for new programs elsewhere at the end of this semester. As I think back over my time spent in the WC, and the people I have met there, I have come to realize that I am blessed to be a part of something both special to me, and special at our school. At the WC, I can drop by just to relax, join in on amazing and sometimes rediculous conversations, and get more than a few willing comments on anything I may be working on at the time. The people there are tryly caring, open, and professional in every way. And, as Big E mentioned, there is a lot of love between the consultants. But what is really cool is how this spirit extends to the writers that come in to the center. I have had more than a few writers comment on how much they enjoy thier visits, and not just because of the help they get. Our WC is a haven, and they can feel it. When I found out that we will be missing some key people next year, I was a little fearfull that our WC might not handle the change very well. I don't want to see the positive energy that bursts out of the Center fade. I want to encourage each of the consultants that are there next year to keep the love alive! I think that we all need to embrace the changes that are coming, welcome the new group of consultants, and be as helpful as possible to the new director. I know that the energy will change with each group of people that work there, but I think our passion for the work and a willingness to be friendly is something that can be universal, and can keep the love strong!

Monday, February 23, 2009

"Biggest Loser"

Some of the ideas mentioned in recent posts, particularly the winter blues and WC cliques/communities, have gotten me to thinking, and now I want to share a new development in our WC with everyone here.

This semester, our campus Fitness Center decided to hold a "Biggest Loser" weight-loss program. I haven't seen it, but I guess it is modeled after a tv show of the same name. Anyways, we sign up in teams and spend the next three months trying to lose weight, to become the "Biggest Loser." So, in the spirit of WC community, I asked if tutors would want to form a team, and what do you know - seven of us are now signed up! (We're a small WC, so seven is about half our staff.) Our WC slogan is "Engaged on Paper, Engaged in Life," so this weight-loss program is a natural fit. Plus, it has tutors now going to the gym together, some for the first time. Although there are always problematics to weight-loss programs, it has been a pretty positive experience so far, and is helping us build that sense of community between tutors. And beat the winter blues!

So I'm curious if you have had any similar programs involving groups of tutors? Do you often, or ever, meet outside of the WC? If so, what kind of community-building work do you do?

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Red Pens

It was a typical Tuesday afternoon... or so I thought.
3 appointments in a row, coffee in my cup, and smiley faces on all the consultants.

Then it happened...
A young enthusiastic man entered the room. My 11 o'clock.
He had not been in before--so I gave him the paper work and we got started.
I asked him what he wanted to focus on and he replied,
"just grammar and punctuation. You can use my red pen and circle whatever you find."

A red pen?! Red pens scare me! What if I circle the wrong thing? What if I make him cry?
I am not qualified to use a red pen. Pencil maybe--but not the deadly red ink.

Plus, it goes against what the BSU Writing Center is all about.
This is supposed to be collaborative work! I replied,
"Haha... we work with you to help fix things. Let's read through some stuff you have questions on and I can see if I can come up with an answer!"
He was confused. "I thought you would be mean and mark my paper all up!" he said, looking at me.
"Nope. I feel like it will help you learn better if we work together." I said with a smile.
He understood. He understood!! I could tell it made sense to him. But this idea of working "together" had never been brought to his attention. At the end of the session he said he had learned a lot, and he would be back with a final draft. :D (yayayayay)

After that, a young girl came into the center who had never been in before. After we chatted and filled out the necessary initial paperwork she started rummaging through her bag.
"I know I have a red pen in here somewhere... it really helps me if you just circle everything in red and then I go home and fix it. That's what my teacher does."

Another request for a red pen?! No! Don't do it! I started to get nervous.

To her dismay she could not find it... so I grabbed a pencil and said, "Pencil is usually my style anyway. I would like to think of these sessions as 'collaborative' rather than me just telling you what you did wrong." I smiled. She smiled.
"Oh, that works!" She then said. And we started to look through her paper together as she read it out loud.

The rest of the session moved smoothly and at the end she seemed satisfied at the amount we had covered. No more mention of this said "Red Pen".
We all lived happily ever after. The End.

Is anyone else scared of red pens? Does any other center use them frequently?
I don't think BSU does at all.
We like out blue and orange; old school; plane gray graphite; no. 2, pencils. :)
No scary red ink.

Thanks for reading my story.
Signing off for now--

Lizzy :)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Work/work load.

Hi, this is Katherine over at Boise State. I'm having the semester that will define my college career: six classes, a fellynship, an internship, and my beloved WC work.

I'm curious about how other people feel about their WC work when they are busy with other commitments. Does it feel like a burden, like "work" you "have" to do, or is it a welcome break from other kinds of school activities? Nine times out of ten, I find it my escape from the pounding "input" from other classes - I feel like a a clean page just walking in the door. I even like to go and hang out there - it feels so peaceful. I find myself puttering about at the busywork of washing coffee cups and such, clearing my mind and readying myself for the rest of my classes. When I'm there, I feel like I'm re-centering (ha) myself, becoming quieter, kinder, slowing down, getting organized. I smiled at E's post earlier about the abundance of "love" in our Center; I'm guilty! I'm guilty! But I promise, I pass it along!

How do you feel in your Center, now that you've weathered your first semester? Is it becoming a job, has the honeymoon worn off? Is it your refuge, your place of rest, where you discover a different kind of you?

trickling in...

Hello All,

We've had little bit of the Winter blues at our Writing Center so far. We've had some no-shows, canceled appointments at the last moment, and a few open slots. We are starting to get a little busier though, and I suspect business will continue to pick up because 101 and 102 students are beginning work on their portfolio assignments. I look forward to these because I find that the vast majority of 101 and 102 professors are creative in their attempts to engage newer students in writing. Many students seem to gain even more confidence in their writing after coming in to work with us. Do other consultants/tutors enjoy this? Do other schools work with a lot of 101/102 (or the equivalent to) in their centers? Are their portfolio assignments creative? How responsive are they?
All the best,
Phillip Bode, Boise State Writing Center.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

too much love?

So with Valentine's Day right around the corner, love is in the air. Especially in our Writing Center air. At our school, the Writing Center consultants could be mistaken for some of REM's Shiny Happy People (holding hands). I feel really lucky to be working in this environment. Consultants regularly come to the Center to do homework or hang out when they aren't scheduled to consult. We are one another's special Valentines...

It's a lot of fun, but I wonder...how might this appear to writers? If students are apprehensive to come to the Writing Center, could our (perhaps seemingly exclusive) camaraderie make these students even more apprehensive to stop in? How can we balance our shiny happy friendships and our writer-centered philosophies?

Friday, February 06, 2009

A Quarter-Century of the "Idea"

It's been pretty quiet around here this semester! Is everyone else as buried under snow as we are here in Ohio?

Anyways, it's my last semester as an undergrad (yaay!), so I'll be leaving my writing center at the end of this semester. A number of other tutors are leaving this semester or next, which means we'll have a definite change in leadership. And with that, a change in the attitude and focus of our center as well. Graduation has me thinking a lot about transition, and metamorphosis, and how this is going to apply to our center.

I say in this to build-up to what this post is really about: Stephen North's (in)famous essay "The Idea of a Writing Center." You may have heard of it; it's kind of a big deal. It was published in 1984, the same year I was born, so we've both turned 25 this year. Twenty-five years of one big idea. It's been revisited, contested, looked at through a post-colonial lens, collaborated and controlled. But what do those of us tutoring right this very moment think of North's Idea? And are our centers doing anything to celebrate this anniversary?

Our writing center has a bi-weekly continued tutor training meeting, where tutors can come and discuss theory and practice as a group. Each meeting has a topic, and this year, to reflect the transition we are going to see this semester, each topic is going to relate somehow to OUR idea of our center. At our first meeting, we re-read North's essay and discussed what we liked and what we wanted to discard. Each week we are going to look to push our idea, see how we can expand and stretch it, make it comfortable and make it our own.

I'll post periodically throughout the semester to discuss aspects of North's essay that I have always focused in on, ares in which I agree or disagree with North. But right now, I'd like to hear what everyone thinks of "The Idea of a Writing Center." Love it, hate it, or something in-between? Should we keep it or scrap it, or can we modify it?