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 caught a couple of grammatical errors while reading it aloud but I figured it'd be best if I went over it as well to check more closely. I ended up doing something similar with Y who read her paper similarly to X.
With both writers I had to take a more directive approach to their grammatical and structural errors because they struggled to recognize them on their own. Most of their errors showed early in the paper. I pointed these out, provided the best solution and told them to watch for them when revising papers on their own. After we finished probing the papers I showed X and Y how to register and set up appointments online.
X and Y seemed receptive to my assistance. Hopefully I didn't I scar X and Y badly enough so they avoid Da Writing Center in the future.

On a last note...
With writer Y I didn't notice until after the session when I was documenting the session that they circled "yes" when asked if they had any disabilites that may interfere with Y's writing. However, Y did not list what that disability is. I am not capable of making a medical diagnosis and did not see any apparent signals of disability on Y's part. The head of the staff and the grad. assistant reasoned with me that unless the writer brings it up, it is best for the consultant to ignore the marking for the time being. Have others encountered a similar issue? If so, how did you handle it?


  1. Hey, there. I've encountered some of these issues before, and I've found that it's helpful if I read the paper aloud in "grammar" sessions.

    I feel it works better for two reasons...

    First, if I read the paper aloud, and I am able to actually SEE the paper, I am better able to catch surface errors.

    Second, the writer gets to hear and see their readers responding to their work. If I am stumbling through sentences or running out of breath as I read, the writer is more apt to recognize were revision might be needed.

    Congrats on your first 2 consultations!!! Happy consulting...


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