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Showing posts from November, 2007

No time!

Now that we have been at the writing center for a few months (new BSU consultants), we have more or less picked up a routine. I come in for an hour and a half on Tuesday and Wednesday, and others come in during their scheduled times. We meet with writers, discuss their writing or their thoughts, and then we move on to the next student. My question in this post has more to do with basic operation of the center and less to do with student-writer relationships. That is question is simple—how do the consultants that work long hours (I am thinking more than three) keep their wits about them?

I realize that some consultants may be used to reading paper after paper and discussing it with the students, but I find it very difficult at times to sit down, read a paper, discuss it, work with the rest of my appointments, and then go off to the rest of the day. Sometimes I get the same feeling from three half-hour consultations that I do from reading half a novel in one day. My eyes hurt, my head h…

The Writing Center as Home

I’m aware something as obvious as this post will get muted reaction, but I’ve been feeling the need, for sometime, to espouse some thoughts I’ve had since my first day of employment in the Writing Center.

Here is the first: I love the Writing Center. I do. And by this I mean I love the material presence of the Center (besides the obvious legitimate benefits of working in the space). I feel so comfortable among the pseudo-cubicles and bookshelves stacked with reference books. I appreciate fully the nuance of our floor lamps, softening the harsh buzz of the few fluorescent lights in the space.

The sofa, although sinking with wear in the middle, offers a snug sanctuary away from the bitterness of plastic computers and wooden desks. Although I have been indifferent to the stuffed parrot that sits atop the paint-peeling coat rack next to the sofa, I like knowing that little avian friend is there if I need him. The toys in the little cabinet to the side make me laugh, especially whe…

Praxis CFP for Spring 2008

Here is the call for papers from Praxis:

CFP: Spring 2008 Issue of Praxis – Authority and CooperationPraxis: A Writing Center Journal welcomes submissions for its Spring 2008 issue. Although we welcome essays on a wide range of topics related to writing centers, we especially encourage submissions on this issue’s theme: Authority and Cooperation. Many writing centers try to create a collaborative space free from the hierarchies of knowledge and power that characterize the classroom and the university in general; yet difficult issues concerning authority and hierarchy inevitably develop in individual writing consultations and in the larger physical and institutional space of the writing center.We invite contributors to interpret the theme of Authority and Cooperation broadly; however, some possible applications include¨Directive/Non-directive approaches to consultations¨Undergraduates consulting undergraduates¨Using writing manuals/style guides as authoritative arbiters of writing style…

Tutoring Session Recording & Reflecting

I'm in my first semester as a grad student, tutoring at both an on-campus Writing Center and a more general learning center at Long Island University in New York. One of the classes in which I am enrolled is Individual and Small Group Writing Instruction, in which we read various texts pertaining to tutoring, discuss different pedagogies and accepted practices, and discuss tutoring. One of the big projects for the semester has been to record a tutoring session (which I finally managed to do this past Thursday after trying for nearly a month!), transcribing the session (my project for yesterday), and then to write a reflective piece about it - all in the name of becoming a better tutor, of course. I was very lucky insofar that I spent three years as a writing center tutor as an undergrad; my then-director was a bit advocate of self-reflection, and I found it easy to implement.

However, this is my first in-depth self-reflective analytical study. Admittedly, at this point, I have o…

ESL student's need more time...

I just finished Jane Cogie's "ESL Studend Participation in Writing Center Sessions" form the Writing Center Journal and something she wrote really struck me. She made a point that ESL student's need more time to process infomation in order to learn. That tutors need to be patient with ESL students so that they can actively participate in their learning. I completely agree with this - the problem is that with 30 min or 1 hour sessions we often have barely enough time to cover one issue they want to discuss. Last week an ESL student came in who had worked with another tutor a day or so before. The tutor had only had enough time to go through a little more than one page of the students assignment. The student asked me in our session to help her find areas to expand her paper. We spent the entire hour working on this and then when we were just about out of time, she asked about the grammar issues. Of course, we didn't have enough time to work anything else so…

The Gentleman Experience

Well, I had an experience today that’s been botherin’ me a bit—in fact, it’s nearly one in the morning, and I’m up because I realized that my feelers are hurt and, consequently, my mind’s run amuck on me. Today a gentleman (I’m using the term very loosely here) came into the Center looking for his paper. He spoke with a light accent, and it was apparent to me that he’s an ELL student. I was sitting at the front computer, and he walked up to me and said, "I’m here to pick up my paper." This statement struck me as a bit strange, because students don’t generally drop-off their papers—my mind instantly registered "email consultation." When I asked him if he’d sent in his paper via email, he looked a bit perturbed and again stated, "I’m here to pick up my paper." I thought that maybe he’d forgotten it at the Center or something, so I asked him if he’d already worked with a consultant on the paper. This question must have really irritated him, because he took a…

The Stinky Center

I would like to address something we are bound to rarely come across in the literature: In what manner is a consultant to deal with a student’s halitosis? What about an impermeable membrane of body odor? Is it, at any time, appropriate to say to a student, “excuse me, but I believe you may have stepped in dog dung”? And if the answer comes back, “no, I haven’t,” how does one recover form such an offensive misstep?

All joking aside, this is something we don’t discuss. This offensive matter cannot be relegated to the realm of “take a deep breath and start again” (this strategy will invariably make the situation worse). A student’s “aura” so to speak is far beyond the topic of misappropriation, far from the context of colonialism, feminism, or any ism within the center.

Some will accuse me of insensitivity. But it is the oversensitivity of my olfactory that helps bring this issue to smell. Who among you hasn’t pondered a similar topic? Have you not had a consultation with the fo…

No, I thank you...

I haven't posted for a while, so I thought that I'd better contribute. Actually, what inspired this particular post was my youngest son; he's an eight year old third grader (he's cute as heck, too). He came home from school today with a short informative story about the Tewa Tribe called "Dancing Rainbows," and his assignment calls for him to read this story and then create a short summary of it, so he can share it with the rest of his reading group this up-coming Friday. Sounds like a simple task right? Umm, no...reading has always been difficult for my son, and stories full of words like "Pueblo," "San Juan," "Comanche," and "ancestors" really, really. really frustrate him. Anyway, we did make it through the story, and, as I was wringing the last of his tears from its pages, I realized that reading that story was the easiest part. Actually, writing the summary will, no doubt, prove even more difficult for him. In lieu…