Showing posts from October, 2009

Tutor Support Systems, Just a few questions!

Last night in our preparatory class for our positions within the Writing Center I thought of asking the rest of you tutors, and directors out there about the steps (if any) you take to prepare and support your tutors while in the center as tutors, official or unofficial. So, with a quick response, would you please outline the support you recieve(d) with your tutoring? Such as preparatory classes, workshops, sit-ins, guidance from "veteran" consultants and director, GA or other staff, or any other kind of reflection activities? Thank you! Have a great halloween!

Karma Police.

Sometimes, I feel it is absolutely imperative for us to reevaluate what we personally stand for, as writing consultants. As we progress through this semester in English 303, I have become immersed in the idea of a "writer's community," or the idea of a place in the compositional construct where all those who want to learn themselves through scribbling and typing, can. In a lot of aspects, we serve as a gateway for a fair amount of students, in regards to raising questions in the hopes of also raising confidence levels. This is never an easy task, and I would venture to guess it can cause a fair amount of lost hair and brain-fade. However, I am struck by the fact that I have been given an opportunity to help other become as 3am/bleary-eyed addicted to the concept of the "perfect sentence." Despite the fact that I have always been relatively pampered (deserved or not) for my exploits, I never, EVER feel better off, or even more qualified than John or Jane Doe in t

Early Morning Musings

Hello everyone, I apologize for not much activity here on Peer Centered. I've taken a look at some of the material here and there's wonderful dialogue going on. I want to and will try to involve myself more. I think if I just make it a habit of checking then I'll be able to become more involved. A lot has happened since my first post several weeks ago. I'm now officially a full intern at the Center and have been involved in non-stop consultations each ninety minute block I'm there. I've worked with traditional, non-traditional, ESL, and even had my first experience with a bright gentlemen that was unfortunately struggling with a learning disability. All types really do come to the Center and sometimes I feel overwhelmed (today was a key one almost about to make me rethink my entire philosophy). Talking each week though with my fellow interns in our training class is a great relief to me. We share our successes and struggles and most importantly work towards a be

Rocking at Life

I absolutely adore working with ESL students. They are hardworking, refreshingly curious, and can easily take constructive criticism, unlike many native English-speakers (myself included). One of the main reasons that I decided to apply for an internship in our center here at Boise State was that I would have the chance to work with ESL students. As someone who has had first hand experience in being a stranger in a strange land, I have a special appreciation for the struggles ESL students go through. All that to say, I thoroughly admire them. I've only worked a couple of months in the writing center, and already I've got a couple of "regulars"--that is to say, I see them a lot more often than I see other students. Both have been living in the U.S. for a few years, and have a fairly strong command of spoken English. When I first started meeting with them, I was a little overwhelmed. Their papers were riddled with errors, and I wasn't even sure where to begin. My ob


As I approached consulting, I was worried—not surprisingly—that I couldn’t do the job. I worried for a lot of reasons, but one of the big ones was noise. More specifically, it was voices. Ambient voices are to my brain what an electromagnetic pulse is to the Starship Enterprise: They are a power drain. They cause total mechanical shut-down. There must be others who have this problem, but I’ll relate some background, for comprehension’s sake. I come from a large, loud, emotionally incompetent family. My parents were hippies. Religious hippies. Grumpy hippies (I’m looking at you, Dad). They fled California in the late 1960s and hiked around continental Europe carrying their backpacks, a tin campfire pot, some dirty laundry, and not much else. Dad was AWOL from the Army at the time—need I mention?—so he did four months in a German stockade after the excursion. Eventually they returned to the States, got a Volkswagen bus, some road maps, a cooking stove, and, sooner or later, six bewi

Consulting, counseling, and editing

Hello! I am a consultant at Boise State’s writing center. I am still kind of new there, but I’ve done enough consultations to start to get the hang of things. I absolutely love it, too, for the record.     I have started wondering about certain connections that the consulting I do in the Center have to work I might do after I graduate. I have always been interested in becoming a high school counselor, and it didn’t take me too long to notice that I have a natural inclination to approach a writing consultation in similar ways that I might approach a counseling session. I am interested in how a student feels that day, because things like that directly affect a session. I am often curious why a student wrote something in a certain way; I’m curious what might be going on in that student’s life that would influence their writing. All of these things strengthen my belief that someday, I might want to go to graduate school for counseling. Does anyone know of any good articles about this subj


to dream per chance to dream--that is the question. I think. Is that how you say it? To dream? I dream of being finished with school and working in a middle school teaching English. Or at an ESL center helping the immigrants learn our language so they can survive in our culture. That's what I dream of. To be able to get through English 202 and English 303 and my other class, oh yea, writing 407. They all require lots of reading, lots of writing and lots of paying attention to what is going on. Some of the required work is beyond my copacity to think so I need a tutor. The place where I would ordinarily get a tutor for free didn't have one for that class so I am having to go outside and pay someone myself. It's all about timing, money and energy isn't it after all, isn't that what it's all about? And "at the end of the day" it is also about learning to the highest level of learning that we can attain to learn. Here at the University we are able to stret

How much of a Writing Center

I have currently been pondering the idea of how much of a Writing Center's resources are aimed at which type of students doing some kind of writing. We have hand books in our center that amaze me sometimes at the specificity of their nature. Writing just for literature, or business majors or online or writing when an ESL student is involved. Last week we had our the big cheese of our ESL department come in and speak and my view on ESL students since then has greatly changed, as well as the issues that I see they deal with and how we handle these issues. I have been wondering how much of a Writing Center should go to helping language acquisition and how much of it should go toward Native English Speakers (NES)? I know that one of the fundamentally wrong things to do with an ESL student is to categorize them immediately and try to use a formulated plan toward them but I have just been playing with the idea of our resources that we do have and their relation to ESL students. I am fasc

Better Late Than Extremely Late.

You know those people who obsessively catalog every album and every book they have every owned, making sure they are organized by either last name, subject, or author's blood type? Well, those people scare me. I am probably the least organized human being in my general sphere of things, leading me to trip over my valuable Elvis Costello 45s, while having used Chinese take-out containers sit in their lionized space on my dusty shelves. This leads to an enormous amount of brain-smoke moments, not the least being my first post here on the vaunted Peer Centered message board. So let's forget that this post is super late, and conveniently switch the focus to the world of consulting. Let me say, coming into this experience, I felt a little apprehensive about where I would fit into the grand schematic of the super-spiffy composition community. My lack of organization, mixed with a general anxiety in regards to the "writer ideal" I have been privy to in the past, made me

The Use of I

One thing I have been experiencing in my sessions as a consultant is the notion students have adopted in which they aren’t allowed to have a voice in their own papers. Students circumnavigate their pieces trying to avoid the “I”—its literal use as in “I think” and its underlying use, when the paper sounds like how they would speak. While “I” isn’t necessarily voice, all the time, I think it is a good starting point at explaining voice to newer writers. I understand for more academic writing, students need to follow some conventions, but the idea of having to write scholastically is where writer’s block comes for a lot of students. They have this notion that the “I” is a bad thing. I know a lot of teachers I had in high school said that we weren’t ever allowed to let an “I” slip into the paper. Trying to avoid “I” and navigate the language was very hard. A lot of times people would use “one” as in “One doesn’t need to go to the store for milk” (may be a bad ex

Any thoughts?

Lately I've been working on a profession project in which I have to explore the profession I wish to work in. Of course I picked becoming a writing center director. Clint has been of great assistance in helping me with this topic, but now I'd like to know what you think? I read an article on IWCA's website that called my attention “Writing Centers in Professional Contexts.” The author discusses the 3 roles of a writing center director: administrator, trade worker, and revolutionary. Although I agree with all these roles within a writing center director, I can't help but wonder if maybe we're missing something? Is there something that has been left out, oversimplified, or just been completely off track? What happens to those writing center directors who are also adjunct or full-time professors? For now, I guess I have more questions than I do insights. But I would like to know what others think about this or the article.

Survey for peer tutors!

Stefan Spezio from Dutches County Community College asked me to post this survey for peer writing tutors . Have at it!

Tutoring Reading in the Writing Center?

Often, students who visit our writing center need help learning to read challenging texts. What strategies do tutors employ to help writers develop reading practices? What training do writing centers provide tutors in reading theory and pedagogy? We've read Gary Griswold's 2006 article in the Journal of College Reading and Learning called " Postsecondary Reading: What Writing Center Tutors Need to Know." Now we'd like to learn more. Any practical advice you can offer? Any suggestions for further reading we might do about reading pedagogy, which might be particularly applicable in a writing center? Any resources you can share to help writing tutors become effective reading tutors?

PeerCentered Publication?

Here is something I sent to WCENTER (the list for all things writing center earlier today). Thoughts? Hi all, I’m kicking around the idea of having a special publication of PeerCentered and am wondering how many folks would be interested. Basically the journal would be made up articles written by peer tutors writing about peer tutoring issues. No doubt it would be a good outlet for writing center theory and practice courses. If it were successful once, I could see it coming out on an annual basis—kind of the best of peer tutoring journal, as it were. I would prefer to have student editors, but that might be a bit difficult to arrange. Certainly we could have peer tutors serve as assistant editors, or co-editors. I’m also thinking that it will be peer reviewed (by peer tutors no less!) Anyway, I’m wondering how much interest there would be in something like this? Currently WLN publishes peer tutoring work, as do some of our regional publications, but the special PeerCenter

for to Internship

I have successfully completed 21 and a half hours so far in the Writing Center. Boy does time fly. That's seven weeks, or six weeks and two meetings! I feel like--except for blogging--I am progressing nicely in my internship, right where I should be. I am rather enjoying Melissa and the crew at Boise State Writing Center. My first consult was a walk-in with an attitude. He had to be there because he teacher told him to, so he had an attitude. Rather than feed into his frustration I took him into one of our consultation cubes where he settled down and we worked on his paper. We were able to see mistakes that could be corrected and I felt like I was getting through to him--without violence! ha! ha! Even though his paper was long, we only took thirty minutes and I felt that he came away from the session feeling like it wasn't so bad afterall, and he might have even felt successful about it. I did. It was a great learning experience on how to keep your cool when others don't wa

I Used Spanish to Help in Tutoring English!

I’m a shiny new consultant in the Boise State University Writing Center—okay, maybe I’m not so shiny, but I am new—and as such, I just started “flying solo” and conducting consultations (i.e., tutoring) on my own very recently. One of my first few sessions involved an ESL student whose native language is Spanish, and though I’ve only had a couple of semesters of college-level EspaƱol, my limited knowledge of the language actually came in handy when I was trying to help this student. In addition to recounting the details of the session with some of my fellow BSU consultants, I also shared the info with our center’s director, Melissa, and she thought it was interesting and useful enough that she’s considering the idea of putting together some sort of venue where our consultants could share these types of successful tips and tricks for working with ESL tutees. Anyway, I figured if she was that interested in my story, then it might be something worth posting here at Peer Centered, too.

Question about creative works in your WC

We're trying to put together a better method for working with creative writers in our center at Boise State--specifically short fiction/novel writers. Since those works normally need to be read in their entirety and we are limited to 30 min or 1 hour appointments, this is what we are considering doing: The student drops off their work; then, we'll block off 3o minutes or an hour to read and schedule a followup 30 minute appointment to go over the work. We'd also like them to fill out a checklist when they drop off their work, explaining what type of feedback they are looking for. I'm wondering how other centers work with creative writers. Do you have a similar method or something different and how well does it work? Thanks for any feedback.

The W. C. author of choice

Who is your end all be all of writing center theory? North seems to be the one man who shows up all the time, and his manifesto is such a part other writing center theory. But recently I have heard that Muriel Harris is the end all be all. What do you think? Who do you tend to lean towards for your own writing center consultation theory?