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 techniques and to become better tutors. Participants kept us going until the very end with questions, and we were all pleased that our audience was so interested in our work.
I also managed to get to a session on transgressive behaviors in the Writing Center, in which Pat Morelli, Director for the Center for Reading and Writing at the University of Hartford and member of the NEWCA Steering Committee, led a lively discussion on to what extent would WC administers and senior staffers protect their young tutors and tutees from potentially dangerous sessions.
On Sunday we had a first - SIGs were being offered! I went to two: "So You're Thinking About Grad School?" (although I'm already in grad school, I was interesting in hearing what other people were going through and was curious about the questions they'd ask), and "Technology in the WC," in which we all compared notes about what we were using in our own Writing Centers, technologically-speaking. Both were good opportunities to meet other folks who were in the same boat as we were, in both cases, and to compare notes and realize that we weren't the only ones either struggling with choosing graduate programs, or determining how we could update our writing centers.
My two co-presenters, Tamara Lebron and Zahra Patterson, made Long Island University proud when, as first time presenters, were co-recipients of the 2008 Robert J. Connors Memorial Scholarship Awards, which was fabulous, of course.
Can I tell you how lucky we were in our keynote speakers? The effervescent Anne Ellen Geller, Michele Eodice, Meg Carroll, Elizabeth Bouquet, and Frankie Condon - authors of Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice - gave what is probably the best keynote I may have ever heard. They were interesting, and entertaining, and I think everyone in the audience wished they would have kept going. (I had a real fangirl moment when I got an e-mail of thanks from Michele, who thanked me for having videotaped the keynote.)
Next year is our milestone year, of course - 25 years! We'll be returning to "where it all began" - the University of Hartford in Connecticut. I was fortunate enough to be elected to the NEWCA Steering Committee this year, so I'll get to help plan the conference, which I'm really looking forward to.
Look out, northeast!