Showing posts from April, 2008


Well, it's almost the end of this semester, and I can say, with confidence, "I am so glad!" What a ride this one's been: four million credits, a zillion papers, two boys with endless baseball games and practices, a house that refuses to clean itself, and one very loud kitten, too. Okay, most of my excitement with the coming end stems from personal, non-writing center stuff, but the writing center is part of my personal stuff, too. I'm glad the semester's almost over, but I am sad that my time as a consultant is almost over, too... I don't know about all of you, but towards the end of the last two semesters, I've found myself feeling a bit sad. This semester's been the worst, so far. I don't feel sad about getting those four million credits out of the way, or not writing another Sociology response--good riddens to all that--yet, I do feel sad about leaving the center, yet again. When inside the center, among nice people and interesting consulta

Wandering in the weeds

I spend a great deal of time wandering around in the weeds of topics and discussions: I see the world in a different light. While that can be frustrating to those around me, I tend to find some great vantage points. On that note, I will take you all on a journey through the maze that is my mind and into the weeds on the edge of authority within the writing center. Be forewarned, this is a ramble; there will be no justification and there is no authority beyond "I said so." This idea has bothered for most of my time in the WC. While I could ignore it the majority of the time, the more I work with writers and read WC theory and pedagogy, the more I am forced to look at authority in the WC. And I am convinced of one point: Consultants and tutors have authority. They may be titled 'peer tutors' or 'collaborative assistants' or any other title, but the fact is that we have authority and power. And I think this needs to be addressed because our actions are more

Economic Stimulus Package

Yesterday, I was offered a $10 tip after a 30 minute consultation. "Is this okay?" she asked. "I really don't know," I said, "so I must decline." Should I have taken it, purchased a round of drinks for my friends later at The Broadway? Should I have toasted, with zeal, the Korean exchange student? I really have no basis for ethical standards in this regard; and, suddenly, I'm standing at the precipice of an infinite existential dilemma, having declined the money. Your thoughts?

Busy Times

We are quickly approaching the end of the semester here at Boise State and tension is in the air. Students come into the Center with their stress levels high as they are scrambling to complete their final assignments, and look us to us for help - we are after all supposed to be an oasis, right? Yet, I am wondering if our stress levels as students, impact our experiences with the students we tutor. Having recently finished my culminating activity for graduation this May, I am actually feeling quite relieved and relaxed. I know that when I was in the midst of working on my Portfolio, I was very stressed out and I am sure that parts of that came across in my consultations, no matter how hard I tried to keep them at bay. I am curious if other tutors notice a difference in their consultation sessions during different points in the semester. I know we are supposed to leave our baggage at the door when we walk into the Center but I wonder how realistic that is. How can we ever let go o

NEWCA Report

Hi, all! This past weekend was the 24th Annual Northeast Writing Centers Association Conference , this year hosted at the University of Vermont, in Burlington, Vermont - one of the most beautiful (and biggest!) campus I've ever seen. It was quite a conference, and it made me realize just how much I missed by not going last year. We all had such a great time. I was fortunate enough to be one of the presenters this year, and, along with fellow tutors and graduate students Tamara Lebron and Zahra Patterson, led a well-received panel presentation on our experiences having (audio) taped a tutoring session, then transcribing that session and analyzing it. Our work was prompted by an assignment given by our professor and Writing Center Director (and overall fearless leader), Dr. Patricia Stephens, who attended our NEWCA session with us and was able to offer insight into her reasoning behind having given this assignment as a means for tutors to reflect upon their tutoring strategies and te


Hello all! I want to extend my heart-felt thanks to all of you that attended RMPTC this year. I have some brief stats to give you an idea of how it went from a quantitative view: 105 consultants/tutors and administrators attended 32 presentations occurred--not including the keynote by Neal Lerner 8 states were represented (Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New Mexico, Utah, and Washington) 17 schools were represented (BSU, BYU, Cochise College, ISU, Mesa State College, MIT, Naropra University, North Idaho College, NNU, Salt Lake Community Collge, USU, U of I, U of U, University of Louisville, WSU, Weber State University, and Westminster College) 100% of the attendees and presenters left smiling Thanks again zwk

Rocky Mountain Peer Tutoring Conference PeerCentered Session

I am sitting in the Boise State session about their use of PeerCentered. It is just starting up with Alisha Kamph, Samantha Sturman, Sara Welch, and Sarah McGuire. This is, therefore, meta-meta-meta-blogging. Update 10:30--The folks have been discussing the benefits and drawbacks of blogging with the following questions: The Nature of the Discussion 1. Are our posts on PeerCentered discussion that could not have been carried on inside the classroom or the center? 2. What post(s) are most useful? Peers and Community 1. How important is the emphasis on peers and the open membership of PeerCentered? 2. Do we build a sense of community or is it exclusive? 3. Are there privacy issues to blogging publicly? Tutor Training and Coursework 1. Does the blog serve as a tool for tutor training/development? 2. Is it limited to an Oasis that complements classroom training and writing center experience or could it replace teacher-student interaction? The Technical Terrain 1. How do we feel about th

Report from ECWCA

Right now, I'm in Columbus, OH, and using my director's laptop to post this. We're getting ready to begin day two of the ECWCA conference. A few more sessions, lunch, the final plenary, and back home we go. Last night we got to see keynote speaker Andrea Lunsford. She spoke about her own writing center, it's history, and especially about where its recent focus has been. At Stanford's WC, they've taken a keen interest in the performative aspects of writing. The spoken word collective uses the WC facilities, and so does another poetry group. They hold a number of reading per year in the WC, sometimes tying into campus events like Admissions Week or Parents Week. They also host a series which allows undergrads to give presentations of their academic work throughout the year. Lunsford presented much of this information through a 15 minute video she played, giving us a sort of virtual tour of her WC. The sessions I attended yesterday were great - there was s

Entering Rainbows, Puppies, and Fuzzy Bunnies into the Conversation

Behind me there's a consultation that's become a heated debate. I'm pretty sure that they're not even having the same conversation. Have you ever . . . had a consultee get defensive? Perhaps he takes offense to the accusation that his sentence is a fragment. But it's not an accusation--it's a fact. However, before you can explain why it's a fact, he/she sits back and his eyes glaze over and he puts his fingers in his ears and begins to sing, "Of course I know how to write a complete sentence, I'm not listening, I can't even hear you, la, la, la." Okay, well, minus the song. So what do you do? -I compare it to a good example in the paper to put the emphasis back on something they are doing "right". -Consult a source (handbook, another consultant, the assignment), in case it has a clearer explanation or just because maybe he/she would rather listen to someone else. -OR I talk to the hard stare until I reach a point where I gloss ove

Reading or Not

There is a discussion on a writing center listserv about not reading the writer's paper in the session but using Socratic method to work through the paper. In Wendy Bishops book, "Acts of Revision," she suggests a similar idea to revising that she calls "memory drafts" (13-27). In some sessions, I have found it useful to ignore the actual paper the writer brought in and discuss global ideas sans the confines of an actual paper. All that being said, I wonder if any of you have experienced/tried this?

Praxis: A Writing Center Journal

A new edition of Praxis: A Writing Center Journal has been posted. Articles for this edition range from tutoring theory and practice, to practical methods.

An Accessible Writing Center

When I first signed on to Peer Centered, I worried if my contributions here would be meaningful. I worried I would run out of things to write about, about topics of interest to WC people. Then I had the idea of posting on a theme. I figured I would connect my posts here to the research I enjoy - working with difference. So I've set a goal to post once a week with each post relating to one element of Beverly Tatum's 'Seven Categories of 'Otherness'" - 1) race or ethnicity, 2) gender, 3) religion, 4) sexual orientation, 5) socioeconomic status, 6) age, and 7) physical or mental ability. So far, we've covered religion, race, and economic class, and I've been very motivated and excited by the discussion taking place around each issue. What I want to investigate is how both directors and tutors respond to these categories of Otherness. Does our training take them into account, and after such training, do we feel confident in our abilities? What about admini

Warning! Warning! Rant Below...

The ability to write doesn’t come naturally—or supernaturally—to anyone. Despite the myths, one’s ability to write well isn’t created in luck. I doubt that it's a trait acquired through inheritance of the "writing gene," either. I'm not a geneticist, but I'm pretty sure that the "writing gene" is fictional. If this gene does exist, then I didn't inherit it, and I've never met anyone that has. Of course, writing's more difficult for some than it is for others—yet, I believe that putting one’s thoughts onto paper isn’t an easy process for anyone. I'm convinced that this "writing gene" is pure myth, a myth that's very popular and very dangerous. I can’t count the number of times that I’ve a student come into a session saying something similar to, "I’m a _________major…so, writing just doesn’t come natural for me." Statements like this one bother me a lot, and always make me wonder—does writing really come naturally fo