Showing posts from 2008

Parallels between tutoring and therapy

In the 303 class, the one about tutoring writing at BSU, We discussed an Essay earlier in the semester called "Freud in the Writing Center: The Psychoanalytics of tutoring well" by Christina Murphy. She suggested a comparison between the tutoring process and the psychoanalytic process (page 96 in our St. Martin's Sourcebook text). Although the two practices address different subjects and contexts, both include a degree of vulnerability for the client. In our case, the client is a student writer who seeks help with the writing process. We can assume that many of these writers are not feeling particularly confident in their writing ability, so sharing their experiences with writing can be uncomfortable. There are certain qualities that a receptive writing tutor displays to ease some of the discomfort and gain the trust necessary to adress the writer's needs (97). Murphy connects this to the relationship between a therapist and a client, which also benefits from a

Why Does My Pedagogy Sound Like an Episode of Seinfeld?

It’s a pedagogy about nothing. But it encompasses everything. How else could it be? I mean, there is no way to really approach a consultation with a cohesive plan. Every person, every paper, every encounter brings with it a new opinion, a new view on working with people, or a new insight into how your own biases affect the way you consult. Sure, there are the ideals: don’t take over the paper, try to take culture and experience into account, give concrete examples…..but is there a theme? I have toyed with a directive minimalist approach, where you gage how much you direct the work (could be read ‘bully into your own opinion’) based on the writers experience, fluency, etc. But is that really a way to look at consulting? When everything is possible, is there anything left to rely on?

Consultations to fulfill class/assignment requirements

Hello, this is Eric from the BSU Writing Center. We had a discussion in class the other day about students who come in to the writing center to fulfill a requirement for an assignment. In other words, a student gets points for turning in proof of a writing center consultation. Some tutors thought this was irritating because the student may show a lack of concern and involvement with the session, caring only about getting the proof of consultation form and not about learning or improving their writing. The idea came up that these sessions steal time away from writers who earnestly want help with their writing. I am not entirely sure where I stand on this issue, though, because I can see some positive aspects of these sessions. A situation like this can make for a frustrating and unproductive session, but it could also be a means of introducing the benefits of a writing consultation to someone who otherwise would have never explored what the writing center has to offer. Personally,

Service Learning Reflective Writing Podcast

The Peer Writing Advisors (yes that's what they chose to be called many years ago) from the Salt Lake Community College Student Writing Center have put together their first podcast episode on service-learning reflective writing. The podcast can be found on the " Step ahead with writing " podcast page. Click on the link at the top labeled "StepAheadPodcast" to see the list of episodes. (There is only the one currently.)

Helping or Hindering

Hello, this is Susan from Boise State's Writing Center and ENGL 303 class. Last Friday (the 7th) I conducted a consultation with a student who was to write an eight- to ten-page persuasive essay. She brought two pages with her and was seeking help in finding more to write about to in order to fill the instructor's requirement. I felt I gave her quite a bit of information to ponder, focusing on the three main parts of the essay: introduction, body, conclusion, as well as a few extra things, such as background and personal experiences. I asked her specific questions regarding her topic, and in doing so, she was able to formulate the rest of her essay. "So what is the problem?" you ask. Well, when looking over her notes, she realized she still had a lot of research to do. She came to the Writing Center on Friday and the paper was due on Monday. She was clearly dismayed. Even though I felt the session had gone well overall, and she had enough information to fill the neede

Team Effort: Contrasting Collaboration

Howdy, Phil and Rick here from the BSU 303 class. A couple of weeks ago we had an irregular session (as if any could be regular), and we wanted to get some input from the peanut gallery. Don't let the third person throw you off... A student had an appointment with Rick to go over grammar and structure in his paper. The student was an ELL writer, and came to the appointment having already worked with Phil on a similar paper. During the session, the student repeatedly reminded Rick that the paper was due in an hour, and that he just needed to know what was wrong and how to fix it. Rick resisted the idea of straight out telling him what to do. For awkwardly worded phrases, Rick decided to ask the writer to think about other ways he could word them, without telling him what the 'correct' way to phrase them would be. The writer became increasingly agitated with Rick, and was not engaged with the session. He asked several times if Phil was free, and if he could work with him i

Philosophical View

Hello everyone, Lizzy here from the elite and famous 303 class at Boise State. We are coming to the end of this grand semester here at BSU, and I'm starting to think about my end or term paper. We have to write a pedagogy about ourselves as consultants. I don't know about my class mates, but I'm freaking out. I decided to use the Brooks essay on 'Minimalist Tutoring' and pick out the good and bad things about it. Mike gave me an idea for an article to look at as well (now the name escapes me) and I would like to take this moment to thank him. :) But... I'm having second thoughts. I really don't know. I want to be the kind of consultant that teaches each writer I sit down with something new about writing. I want to spread my passion for writing with the world and get people excited about it. Does anyone have any ideas for me? Any articles that fall on the lines of, "Saving the world, one consultation at a time" ? I would really appreciate your input


A few weeks ago I helped make an advertisement video for the Boise State Writing Center to put on YouTube. Actually, I was in two videos, but one was a group shot, so I am part of a team, not myself. The video I am in is to help prospective consultants understand some aspects of working in the writing center. A few veteran consultants and a consultant currently in training were video-taped answering questions. The questions were nothing strange, nor were they ground-breaking. But they did get me thinking. What do we as consultants want out of our training and experience? There are numerous articles about how to train and what to train and what to expect; what do we want? Yes, we want to help writers, but we are all critical readers and know to look deeper than that. This is an honest question: What do you want out of your training and experience in your writing center?

Antiracsist Writing Centers Blog

There is a new blog in the 'sphere that focuses on antiracism work in writing centers, appropriately called Antiracist Writing Centers . It comes from the work of both the IWCA Antiracism Special Interest Group (SIG) and the staff of the University of Illinois Chicago Writing Center. Check it out!

PeerCentered Podcast 3.2: Nancy Grimm Keynote

Over on the podcast, you'll find a new episode featuring Nancy Grimm !

Are WCs asking too much of peer tutors?

At his plenary wrap-up of the Joint NCPTW/IWCA Conference, writing center and peer tutoring legend Harvey Kail asked a simple question in response to the various ideas that came his way during the conference: "Are we asking too much of peer tutors?" Harvey was referring to specifically, I think, Nancy Grim's keynote challenge that writing centers take on new social realities and extend their project to important issues in social justice such as anti-racism work (among others.) (By the way, I only had the opportunity to record the tail end of Nancy's speach, and I will no doubt be podcasting it soon.) After he finished his talk, Harvey had us write on 3 questions--all relating to the challenges that the conference threw at us as writing center folk. The table I went to sit at were very interested in Harvey's statement about peer tutors. One person thought it was a false dichotomy, as if there was one pure thing that we are asking of peer tutors and that was s

Stray cats

No, I'm not writing about the 80's Brian Setzer band project, but about the cats that are wandering around the Alexis Hotel where the 2008 NCPTW/IWCA joint conference is being held. Today, as I was walking back to my room taking a break from being Lord Techmeister General, I noted the cats that someone had mentioned to me earlier that day or yesterday. They, of course, are not really stray cats (being that they never really had a home) but are true wild cats. They, no doubt, rome the Alexis grounds catching vermin and birds for a living. They may dine on the odd convention sandwich carelessly left on a bench, but hey, that's free food, and who is going to refuse free food? Now what 's the point, you are asking yourself and me while you read this? I found these cats rather interesting. Here they are, hanging on to this resort--making it their own lair. They live quite well here. I came upon a crew of them in mid-cat-argument. One was strutting his stuff. Another


I've been pretty busy the last couple of days coordinating tech support and hosting my own personal Mike Douglas show with writing center megastars by the Alexis pool. I haven't been able to blog as I wanted, nor to record any sessions at all. I've run into various PeerCenterites, and we had our flash mob yesterday at noon. Despite Tiffany Turcotte's belief that our flash mob was at midnight, instead of noon, we had a great time. In between running around solving people's tech issues along with Allison Scheel, David Rockwell, Suzy Gehring, Zach Koppelman, Dusty Bailey, Jeannette Jeanault, and Chris Bently, I've seen many interesting sessions today. I have to run to the banquet now. More later.

Blogging the conference

I encourage all PeerCenteristas to blog during their time in Las Vegas for the upcoming NCPTW/IWCA Joint Conference. I'll be posting, although I have several official duties that most likely won't let me attend many sessions. I'll also (I hope to have time that is) be conducting some podcast interviews. If I have the time and the gumption, I'll post those on-the-fly! We'll also be having our PeerCentered (facebook) flash mob in the Apollo foyer on Thursday at 12:05. It will last for 10 minutes. Come get your PeerCentered button! See you in Vegas!

2008 Maine High School Writing Center Conference

Over at the 2008 Maine High School Writing Center Conference Rich Kent has written about, well, the 2008 Maine High School Writing Center Conference.

New Podcast Episode!

Today I had the opportunity to chat with Claire Hughes, Coordinator of the Weber State University Writing Center and President of the Rocky Mountain Writing Centers Association about the upcoming NCPTW/IWCA joint Conference in Las Vegas. Give it a listen ! (And apologies for the sound quality, but it was an old-skool phone line recording!)

Writing Center hours/availability

Interesting post on Arizona State's writing center blog. The author goes into the reasoning behind 30-minute maximum appointments at their facility along with humorous case studies behind that reasoning. It does not state their hours... Boise State's Center is available for 30 minute or 1 hour appointments. From my experiences and observations 12 out of 13 thirteen times these are sufficient options. That said, I've had a a couple walk-ins that went on for well over an hour. Initially I wouldn't think of this as a possible hazard. I assumed the more time you could work with a writer the better. True enough, but spending a large chunk of time on one piece can make it difficult for both the writer and consultant about what could be improved. Has anyone else gone through a similar session, if so, what was going through your head, was the extra time beneficial? The author for the ASU blog stated writer coming in were annoyed or upset by the "small" window of time

Abuse of Power?

Hello, Eric here from the 303 tutoring class at Boise State. We have read many essays in the 303 class about methods and practices in tutoring writing. Although they all provide useful insight, I also find they can be inhibiting. Allow me to explain: I have just begun to conduct my own consultations, and I sometimes find myself getting lost in the vague web of whatever "dos" and "don'ts" I might be reminded of from the essays as I sit down to consult with a writer. For example, I may reach for my pencil and a voice speaks up inside: "You're not going to write on his paper are you? You're not an editor, you're a collaborator!" I find myself second-guessing myself a lot in consultations, wondering if I am violating the rules that have been set forth in the Murphy and Sherwood text. This kind of hesitation can be stifling for a number of reasons. First of all, there is not a lot of time for hesitation in a half-hour session. And further,

Recording Consultations

I only like my voice if I have a really, really bad cold. It's kind of cute then. The rest of the time it's terrible--loud, at a weird pitch, and constantly stumbling over word pronunciation as it tries to suppress an undesirable accent. I record my voice mail message over and over, but my voice doesn't change so I let the Mechanical Lady say that I'm unavailable. Her voice is pleasant. (All of my whining has to do with Writing Centers, I promise; you'll see in the next paragraph.) The director of our center wants us to record one of our consultations in the next couple of weeks. "What a great pedogical tool!" I think. "What learning can be done by going back and analyzing how a consultation went, what I would change, what I would do again!" But then, "Shoot! My voice! They'll hear my voice! I'll hear my voice!" How distracting. I'll be hyper-aware of the way my voice sounds through the whole session. This may

3 Times as Awesome...

Yes! It finally happened. No, I didn't win the lottery or pay off my mortgage, but this is close: there's a writer who wants to schedule weekly appointments with me! I know, pretty cool, huh? This is my 3rd semester, and this is my first "regular." And, as I pretend that I didn't just leave myself vulnerable for a "brothel" interpretation, I'll say, "although that's awesome all by itself, it gets more awesome... " Awesome thing # 1: This writer originally visited the center because he'd receive extra credit for coming in. He came in expecting "editing" help and desiring only the extra credit. Yet, when he discovered that writing consultants look at student's essays as Readers, not Editors, he was thrilled. In fact, we spent only a few minutes on the essay he'd brought in for the extra credit. Then, we spent the remainder of the conversation talking about ideas on essays, which weren't due for (get this) mon

Writing Center Humor--Pick your favorite

I just went over to the Writing Lab Newsletter website and found this pretty hilarious cartoon section. Which one is your favorite? I vote for "Poe" or "Gertrude Stein"...

Jacob Says...

Peer Centered Response “A Metaphor is a Glorious thing” I like metaphors. A lot. They make explaining essay writing a lot easier sometimes. Say, for example, the writer’s essay seems to kind of sort of linger around the point a little, and the essay’s language feels a bit convoluted because the writer’s kind of trying really hard to stress something or something else about a certain subject, but the writer is not really sure how to kind of phrase it in an adequate way so that said point comes out clear and concise-like. Voila—Burger King Metaphor. Say you’re at a Burger King drive-thru. You’re there for one reason and one reason only—to get a Whopper. When the employee says, “Welcome to Burger King, how may I take your order,” what do you say? --“I want a Whopper.” Not --“Well, I think I’m going to get a hamburger, but I don’t want it to be too small or too large, so I’m probably going to go with the Whopper please.” The BK employee is the

Upper-division English snobs, just kidding, stigmatization

Hello Writing Center world, Once again Phillip Bode coming at you live from the Boise State Writing Center. My post concerns a common stigma I encounter and have dealt with since entering upper-division classes. The stigma and derision of upper-division students (primarily English majors) who are reluctant in coming to our humble abode. The stigma appears to stem from the notion "by going to the Writing Center you are conceding you're not a quality writer and the center is only for struggling writers." (Of course, if someone is mulling over an argument or thesis, as everyone is prone to do eventually, can't we all be considered struggling writers?) Any consultant can tell you this notion is false in every sense. Yes, we mostly work with lower-division writers but how much of this is affected by upper-division English majors letting their pride get in the way? It is absurd to think since we primarily work with younger writers they are the only ones who struggle. Every

Writing Center on Wikipedia Challenge

If you haven't noticed, the entry for " Writing Center " on Wikipedia is woefully inadequate. I, therefore, put for the challenge of cleaning it up and making it more academic. I've been "taking care" of the entry for a few years now, but have done little else but trimming it down and making sure it didn't mis-represent our mutual work. What do you say, PeerCenteristas? Who has the gumption to make the entry 1) more scholarly and 2) more reflective of our community? Note: this doesn't mean just adding links, it means making it a better encyclopedic entry with sources noted.

Writing Center Society

In the truest--if that can be said--sense of a blog, I am going to ramble for a few lines about an issue that faces me in the Writing Center. I love my job in the Writing Center. There is a great group of dedicated consultants and a supporting director. However, the society within the center is changing. Changing in a way that leaves me on the edges. This is not a 'bad' thing; it is what is happening. Before I get into this more, I am not hurt or angry about this. Centers change and progress as the consultants come and go. I have seen my center change many times in many ways over the last three and a half-ish years. So I am not mad or hurt. The center is changing and I am not as much a part of it as before. There are a number of good reasons for this. First, I am not working as many hours this year. My lack of exposure to the new crew prevents forming close bonds, and it prevents me from integrating into the changes. Second, I am teaching now and I do not have as much time to j

My first sessions, unlisted disability

Hello Writing Center World, Phillip Bode, intern at large coming to you live from Boise State University. I had the pleasure today of handling my first two solo sessions with writers this afternoon. Both had never been in the writing center before and dropped in, unfamiliar how Da Center works. Conveniently enough both writers were from the same class (Communications 101) with the same assignment (write about your experience exchanging a worthless item). In both sessions I attempted to use the minimalist technique emphasized by Brooks. The session with X got off to a slightly awkward start when I asked X to read the paper. X had already informed me they wanted to focus on grammar. when X read the paper though, he hovered over it completely not allowing me to even glimpse at it. It was not out of timidness on X's part however. I think that was just how they were comfortable/used to reading. I took quick notes as X read, on anything positive or negative that stood out audibly. X caug

A little "cheese" maybe? Or in this case, granola?

Arriving at my fifth week in my class on writing center tutoring, I found myself confused by all the MANY theories out there about writing center pedagogy. There are all sorts of opinions bouncing around inside my head, some with which I agree and some with which I do not (and I realize this may change after beginning sessions on my own). However, how do I make sense of it all? How could so many theories form together for the greater good the writing center, especially when some seem so very different from others? And then it hit me. Each of those sources is like each of the individual ingredients found in my favorite granola bars (Clif's new Mojo bar, mountain mix or peanut butter pretzel flavor to be exact), and like those ingredients, when melted into one unified form they serve a greater good. You see, there are ingredients in those bars that, individually, I do not care for—just as with some of the journal excerpts on writing center pedagogy floating around in my brain. Howev

Are we aiding and abetting fraud?

So, I was driving to school today and as always was listening to NPR (that's my self-promoting conversational piece informing you on how intelligent and connected I am) really, I just like the coverage on the campaign and "This American Life." Okay, I am already getting off topic and I haven't even gotten on topic yet. Anyhow, the story I was listening to was about a woman who used to be a part of the admissions committee at Dartmouth and is now working as an independent consultant helping students with the admissions process for schools. For a cool $40,000, she will work with you from 9th grade to graduation to help prepare you for your college admissions process. And for the budget price of $14,000, she will help you write and revise your college application essay. So, how in the world does this correlate to our world? Well, her work with college applications includes helping students decide on effective topics (staying away from "teen angst, or th

NCTPW Conference Scholarships

This just in from Brian Fallon of NCPTW: NCPTW Peer Tutor Scholarship and Travel Awards The National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing is pleased to announce that monetary awards to support the scholarship, service, and conference participation of undergraduate and graduate writing center tutors have been established for the 2008 IWCA/NCPTW Las Vegas conference. The Scholarship and Travel Awards (up to $250) will support conference travel expenses for peer tutors who have registered for the upcoming 2008 IWCA/NCPTW Las Vegas conference. The committee will accept multiple applications from one institution but will try to make a balanced distribution of the scholarship funds to ensure awards for tutors from a number of schools. Tutors are encouraged to apply collaboratively for one award. Candidates for these awards must provide the following materials in their applications: 1. Name, e-mail address, mailing address, phone number, institution, and academic level (undergraduate or

Safety first!

I've been reading Mike Mattison's new book Centered: A Year in the Life of a Writing Center Director (available from and came across the following passage: My first year here [Boise State], we had a student come in, demand for us to read a paper, and then say "I'll shoot someone" if it doesn't happen. Incredibly poor choice of words, and the student was immediately brought before the conduct officer (fortunately, the conduct officer and I knew one another from a committee, so we had a good rapport). The student wrote letters of apology to the consultants and was also barred from the Center. (25) Perhaps it is because of Phil's post below about mental illness and the writing centers or just the mayhem generally busy-ness of our writing center here at SLCC, but I've been thinking a lot about writing center safety of late. Like most writing centers out there, we've had our scrapes with people who misbehave, but have only had to ca

2008 Maine High School Writing Center Conference

From Richard Kent of the University of Maine: We've organized our annual Maine High School Writing Center Day. I'm passing along this information as one model of a conference that asks students to be the primary presenters: 2008 Maine High School Writing Center Conference : "On Wednesday, October 22, the secondary school writing center community of Maine will gather at the University of Maine in Orono.")

Is "gender" a consideration anymore? Or is the Weasel still running wild?

Hi Everyone- I'm a new tutor at Boise State and I wanted to comment on a piece of an essay we read in our 303 class written by Elizabeth Boquet ("Snapshots of Life in the Center"). This is a very good essay, and I wanted to comment on one smaller part of it. Boquet used her difficulty with dealing with a fellow tutor "Bill" to express gender concerns within the Writing Center. If you read this piece, "Bill" can be summed up as nothing more than a weasel because, at the time when Boquet wrote this essay, "Bill" "lorded" over the writing center with his vast computer knowledge, which enabled him to avoid serious tutoring responsibilities and gain advantages. "Bill" also, according to Boquet, lied about teaching a female colleague about a computer program. Is "Bill" an appropriate example of typical male behavior? Boquet quoted Tannen,"men's communicative strategies are primarily heirarchical, while women f

writers exhibiting Mental Illness struggles

Hello Blog world, Phillip Bode from Boise State's 303 Writing Center training course here. In Volume 32, Number 10 of the Writing Lab Newsletter Mary Murray McDonald addresses the ways a consultant/tutor should handle writers who exhibit mental issues. In "Assessing and Responding to Clients with Severe Mental Disorders" she says she "spent much time talking with a counselor about these clients and decided to develop strategies using his advice, readings on these disorders, and our own observations." She recommends that the tutor/consultant direct the writer to the director of the writing center. How much this accomplishes is not stated other than it takes the distressed student out of the consultant/tutor's hands. Murray notes that even though judging by appearance is not always ethical, it can be an early sign of a writer experiencing mental trauma, "one of the first clues that a student may have some severe mental difficulties that impact his or h

PeerCentered Wordle

So I ran the PeerCentered RSS feed through Wordle and this is what came out: It seems like we write a great deal about writing centers! (Place appropriate emoticon indicating wryness here.)

PeerCentered Flash Mob @ the Alexis

The facebook PeerCentered strikes again! PeerCentered will be hosting a flash mob at the upcoming International Writing Centers Association (IWCA)/ National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW) 2008 Conference in Las Vegas. For 10 minutes starting at 12:05 on October 30, 2008, PeerCentered will mob the Zeus Foyer in the conference hote l, the Alexis Park*. Come get a PeerCentered button and meet your fellow PeerCenteristas.


Part of the fulfillment for an internship at the BSU Writing Center is to spend time observing sessions at the center. I'm not really sure if this has helped or hurt my confidence as a future consultant...I enjoy being able to watch what goes on in the sessions and observe how the veteran consultants handle obstacles, exercise their tact, and find ways to get students thinking about how they can improve their work. Many times, the consultants will convey ideas to the students that I am already thinking about, or make suggestions to them that, in my mind, I have already decided should be suggested. However, there are times when I feel that I would have a difficult time doing what the consultants do, and it causes me to worry about my own abilities as a tutor. One example of this was a session I shadowed on Wednesday. A student came to the writing center with a mostly-finished draft of a paper she'd written for her English class. This next part is going to make me sound fai

Misconceptions about Writing Centers

I'm in the BSU 303 class about tutoring writing, and we've had a few discussions about the misconceptions people have about the Writing Center. These inaccurate ideas can come from instructors who are not familiar with the Writing Center or from students, who may be inclined to bring these misconceptions with them to writing appointments. Students may get the idea that the Writing Center will simply revise and/or correct a paper for the writer, or they may believe that an appointment with a tutor will guarantee a better grade. Student writers who come to the center may be frustrated and disappointed to find that they still need to maintain an active role in their own papers while in the center. I can imagine that many students would be tempted to say, "Well, you have the answers, just give them to me. It would make it easier on both of us." I haven't actually conducted any of my own tutoring sessions yet, but I was wondering if any of the more 'seasoned ve

I'm ready! I'm ready! I'm ready!

Wait, am I? Well… not entirely. As a consultant in training, I’m still not even sure what being ready to be a writing consultant would entail. It’s sort of like preparing yourself for the unknown. I mean, who can really say what kind of issues will come up in the writing center? We may assume that all issues would have to do with writing, but even that assumption is occasionally (usually?) tossed out the window. In the 303 tutoring class, we’ve read and discussed quite a few different perspectives and ideas about writing center consultations. We’ve talked about different situations and different strategies. Honestly, sometimes there is so much to think about I get a little dizzy. But, I’m making progress. I find every time I observe a consultation I learn something new. I notice that more and more I have questions and suggestions for the writer during consultations, so maybe that is a sign of readiness? I do feel like I am getting somewhere, but I’m not quite sure if I will be ready wh

Maslow's Hierarchy and the Writing Center Philosophy

GOOD BLOG TO YOU. As I read through the essays about writing center philosophy in our training class, I have begun to see a trend. It is obvious that the ultimate goal outlined in these articles is that a writing center should make students better writers through helping them to take ownership and agency in their work. Every essay and discussion is centered around a student finding their own way through the process, and becoming self actualized in the process. Taking true ownership depends on being outside the structure and thinking beyond grades and the desire of a professor for a certain project. Even the training class is an example of this. It is structured to give the students as many chances as possible to find the solutions for themselves. There are sometimes in there that it is a little frustrating, and I just want to hear that 'the answer is BLANK'. But it really does allow us to empathise with a student in that type of model. It's sort of a learn through exa

My Hobby

Today in class, (I call it the "Tutor Training" class but most refer to it as "the 303 class") we talked about grammar. Not really a whole lot was covered, but we went over some terms. Someone in class mentioned that it was difficult to use these terms such as "comma splice" or "sentence fragment" Do we really need to know all of them? Is it necessary to know the names of the grammar tools we are using? Mike said, "You all have hobbies right?" A couple people chatted about shooting guns and photography, they all used specific terms. Mike pointed out that each hobby has its own language and terms used to describe it. Writing is a hobby of mine. I would love to learn the grammar language and use it in consultations. My goal as a writing consultant is to instill writing and grammar techniques that the writer can use later in life. It might be a far fetched goal, but I've always wanted to change the world. And I think that this is my c

Learning Really IS a Life-Long Process

As I was reading through our text, I came across words like "nexus," "vociferous," "ethnocentric," and "matrilineal," just to name a few. I am not ashamed to admit that I had no idea what these words meant, even though I read the text and it all flowed nicely. OK, actually, I sort of knew what matrilineal meant, but I wasn’t 100% sure. I still had to look it up just ease my mind. I wrote these vocabulary words down and logged onto when I got home to look up their meaning. I am 44 years old and here I am, looking up these words online because I don’t know what they mean. I know the author used them in the right context. Still, to me they are big words. Does that mean I have a limited vocabulary? It sort of makes me feel like my education is a little inadequate, and I ought to have a huge vocabulary by now. I am, after all, 44 years old. I mean, I worked as an executive assistant for a vice president in a large corporation


You know at 41, having been on the internet since 1988, you would think that I would have it all down. Yet I couldn't log in to the PeerCentered blog, since I confused my Google account with it and for some reason just didn't "get" that I had to ask Clint nicely to be included. This is a perfect segue into talking about those exasperating moments when you think you know things like the back of your hand, and then you look down and discover your hand has aged twenty years when you weren't paying attention, and now appears to have carpal tunnel and some kind of spotty dry skin. Aargh. I'm in the 303 class with the most delightful people, struggling over stupid personal problems that I know intellectually are not the baggage of a twenty something and don't need to be carted into an environment primarily populated with twenty somethings. I found myself crankily spouting some cynical ideas about the educational system and how we simply can't cater to ev

Writing Center Research Project Survey

This is from Vanessa Kraemer posted on WCENTER: Hello! We are pleased to announce the 4th biannual writing center survey. Please go to and click on "Take the Survey for 2008!" Directors who have completed the survey in previous years may simply update information that has changed. If your school is not listed, you may create an institutional profile under "New School." Your information will be saved if you would like to complete the survey in more than one session. If you are no longer director of your writing center, please forward this message to the current director. This survey produces benchmark information about writing centers essential to our field. Therefore, your participation is vital. Please complete before October 15th, 2008. If you have any questions, please contact Carrie Wright ( or Vanessa Kraemer ( Thank

PeerCentered FAQ project?

I've received a few requests from potential PeerCentered bloggers with questions about how to post and what not. Does anyone want to take on the task of posting a FAQ for PeerCentered that lets people know what to do and how to do it? I'd be forever grateful. It would be nice if were like WordPress, where you can create static pages out of such posts, but we'll just have to live with it as a post, that I can link to over in the sidebar -->.

NEOWCA wrap-up

Yesterday was the 2nd annual NEOWCA conference, held at Walsh University. First, a bit of background: last year, a group of WC directors in North East Ohio formed the NEOWCA (North East Ohio Writing Centers Association), a kind of mini-local. Last year, was their first conference. I had a great time; the conference ran very smoothly, in Walsh's brand-new conference center. They said about 90 people registered to attend, an increase from last year. For a mini-conference, its getting pretty big! The goal of NEOWCA is to be very tutor-focused. In keeping with that, most of the conference presenters are tutors themselves, and when directors do present, they focus on tutor-related issues, rather than tackling more administrative subjects. This approach works well, given the smaller size of the conference, and a more salient feeling of community emerges. Since we're all nearby, we know each other's schools, and many faces from last year's conference (as well as Spring&

The New Crew and Being Misunderstood: a two part blog entry

Since the semester started, I have seen many new faces around the Center at BSU. I am quite excited about this both in the sense that I get to talk about my experiences with writers, and that I am able to see entirely new, fresh perspectives of writing center work. For the past year now, I have been able to form my own opinions and pedagogy to working with students based off of class lectures, readings, writings, and watching veterans. But now I feel like I get to see all new ideas and personalities when working with writers, and, quite frankly, I am excited. Now for my other thought. I visited a history professor of mine yesterday and threw out the idea that she suggest to students the writing center when they get hung up on developing arguments, creating flow in the paper, or simply writing a history paper in general. She was very excited that I mentioned these things rather than mechanics, grammar, and spelling. I have talked to people before who have all given similar reactions. I

Paring down the cast

Occasionally (well usually once per year) I have to trim down the PeerCentered contributor list, just to keep it sane. What this means, unfortunately, is that if you haven't posted within the last 12 months you will be unceremoniously removed as a contributor to the blog. That doesn't mean, of course, that you can't comment on the blog. It just keeps people on their toes, I suppose. For those folks who just joined, don't worry--I have a good enough memory that I won't delete you. In case my memory has failed, just send me an email in which you attack my poor memory, and I'll make sure you're back in.

Bring! bring!

Sorry for the title. I thought maybe I could annoy people with my cheesiness, just as sometimes people annoy me with their cell phones in the Writing Center. Of course we have polite signs strategically placed around the Center whispering "If you need to use your cell phone, please do so in the hallway" and "Please turn off your cell phone during consultations--Thank you." But of course, just like in class, at the movies, and in traffic court, cell phones continue to ring--and sometimes, continue to be answered. What's the best thing to do when a writer answers a phone during a consultation? We've talked a bit in our Peer Consulting class about how we would react to such an affront. Responses vary from reading through and making notes for discussion on the draft while the writer is 'engaged' to quitting involvement in the session completely. Yesterday, I had just shown a writer to a consulting table and given her forms to fill out. I left the t

Fierce new look! Hot mess up in here!

Ok, the only way I know the term "fierce" is through the above Saturday Night Live sketch that makes fun of a fashion reality show that I haven't seen, so I can't say if I am using it correctly or not to describe PeerCentered's new look and feel. In any case, the highlights of our new hot mess are a fancy blogroll applet that actually takes quotations from the specific blogs in question, a link to writing center-related videos on YouTube, RSS feeds, a "follow me" section, and a news feed with links to writing center news articles on the web. Enjoy the hot mess, folks. Hey, at least I didn't call it tranny now did I? Fierce!


Well, a new semester has begun, and I've bought all my books, but the only thing I am excited, at all, about is returning to the Center. I wasn't planning to return this semester--hence my last "Goodbye" post, but I am so glad I changed my mind. I changed my mind for various reasons--the student writers are great, the other consultants are super, the selection of candy is always divine--but, perhaps the number one reason I decided to return is that I just plain missed it, all of it. It's odd, the effect consulting can have on an individual. (When I say individual, I really mean me.) Seeing new faces around the center reminds me of how much change occurs within the walls of the center, within the peoples of the Center. There, change occurs on various levels. Sometimes, change occurs almost invisibly within a session--like that "ah ha!" realization that happens silently, internally within a writer. Sometimes, it's a little more external and noticeable

Welcome new PeerCenterists

We've had a slew of new bloggers join PeerCentered over the past week. Welcome! Please introduce yourself in the comments on this post.

New Semester, New Ideas

Today is my second day of classes, and our WC doesn't officially open until Monday, Sept 1. This year we didn't have too much turnover, and we have a very strong group of tutors, so we've been talking about doing some new programs this fall. I wanted to briefly outline two of them and hopefully get some feedback from all of you. Program One: Creative Writing Workshops . We've been holding weekly creative writing sessions for two semesters now. A number of our tutors (myself included) have a focus on creative writing. While we are technically always open for poetry and fiction, we rarely if ever saw creative writing in the WC. So we began holding specific weekly sessions, advertised just for creative writers. We've had mild success before. By far, our most popular thing was having the poetry faculty come in and give special workshops during National Poetry Month (each prof. held a workshop for a different kind of poem). I'm wondering, how do your WCs typ

Consultant Mentoring

Augh! What is this black magic that made the summer go by in such a fleeting moment? As I settle in to thinking about The Return of the School Year, I think about our newbie consultants, who will be taking to The Center for the first time this fall. Here at BSU's Writing Center, we are looking for rich ways to develop connections between veteran consultants and new consultants. We're thinking about observation & disc Have you have good experiences of mentoring or being mentored in any ways in your work? I would love to hear about them!

Making us stronger

So it is officially one week after the flood that tried to shut down the Salt Lake Community College Student Writing Center. They are are doing a massive clean-up asbestos abatement on our floor, we're back down in our building's lobby. We're not feeling so homeless this time, as we have a phone, a computer, and more students than we have chairs for. Our College's President and Academic Vice President have walked by regularly and have been impressed. Here's what the hall near the SLCC Student Writing Center looks like some moments ago: Sad. Well, as they say, whatever doesn't kill us....

Open Mic

Open mic was a great success! We all had fun, laughed, felt, were moved, and laughed even more. I will have to say that the entire trip was worth Paula using the phrase "Belching Divas" in reference to ordering cucumber seeds during the winter. Sorry you all missed it. zwk Update. Here is a photo of me reciting poetry. Here is the link to the SI Flickr site:

IWCA SI Days 3 and 4

To all the folks that missed the webcast: Boy did you miss out. I was great. But that was not all that happened on day 3, just the most public. I had planned to write every night, but last night a group of us returned late--read 2345 local time--from a fantastic rendition of "A Midsummer Night's Dream." As Brad asked, "What made it fantastic?" Well, the actors did not really hurt the situation, nor did the lighting, music, setting, and the script seemed to be useful. To be honest, the actors performed brilliantly. The adaptation made parts of the setting more modern--such as dress and props--but the lines were more or less original. And the dancing at the end was really great, also. The more academic--if anything can be more academic than Shakespeare--activities of day 3 included an opening session discussing how to prepare consultants for working with multilingual writers. As you can tell, multilingual writers are something of a theme for the SI, but for good r

Great flood of 2008

Great flood of 2008 , originally uploaded by Student Writing Center . Because of a problem with a new roof, the Student Writing Center was forced out of its traditional home by pouring water. We found a new space, however, in the foyer of our building.

Welcome home

It looks like is finally playing nice. Enjoy the new home!

Still trying is being very uncooperative on the redirect to I'll keep you posted.


Hello all. Another packed day here at the Pyle Center. The weather is holding, the food is good, the conversation stimulating: A good day. But what a day. It started with an in-depth cursory look at diversity in the writing center. Follow me on this one. It was in-depth because we discussed and questioned many oft-overlooked topics within diversity, but cursory because we could not run all the conversations out to their full length or strength. I doubt any conversation about diversity within any institution can ever be really run out, but we did not even get fully warmed up. One point that really stood out to me about the discussion was the varied--and often unaddressed--expectations. It seems that so many topics and points within diversity are hung up on unreconciled--or inadequately articulated--expectations, which are not being met. Since diversity means different thing in different situations--rhetorical or otherwise--and since each mean carries specific, if unexamined and una