Showing posts from 2010

A winner!

Recently at the 2010 National Council of Teachers of English Convention International Writing Centers Special Interest group Denise Calix, PeerCentered blogger won a giant gummy bear: Congratulations, Denise!

Peace of Mind in the Writing Center: Putting the Client at Ease

Having a writing center tutor read your work can be as stressful for a client as having an instructor read it for a grade. Even though a tutor is not grading the work, the client is worried about being critiqued. He will likely be worried that the errors will be so numerous that the tutor might not verbalize it, but will think about what a terrible writer he is. Even I have had these fears almost every time I have had someone look over a paper which I have written. The client may even fear that the tutor will think that he is the worst writer the tutor has ever seen, or read. Since the tutor's role is not to grade the writings but rather to hep the client become a better writer, easing the client's fears is a particular challenge for the writing center tutor. This is especially important since helping the client to become a better writer means, in part, helping him to become a more comfortable, confident writer. Putting the client at ease begins at the very onset of the sess

Creating Effective Tutoring Atmosphere

Writing is a very personal undertaking to the extent that most writers would pass the chance to attend a tutoring session, unless it is absolutely necessary.   The challenge for tutors in this environment is to find a balance between reinforcing the writer’s self-esteem while ensuring that the essential issues are addressed. If you read a bad paper, how could you bring the writer to understand this without making him/her feel terrible about the whole tutoring concept? It is a real challenge to deliver bad news; personally it is even harder and I am sure most of you would agree. To overcome this rather uncomfortable situation, I often commend my writers for a good paper and use personal writing challenges as a basis to underscore the troubling spots in their paper. Mind you, commendations are sometimes ineffective because writers know when they have done less than perfect work.   So while it is necessary, it must be aimed at honestly evaluating the writer for a fair attempt. I find that

A Really Long Blog I've Been Too Scared to Post Since Thursday

Recently, I found out that I have an intense fear of sharing my writing with a large audience. I realized this when I started to write this blog post for PeerCentered. As I began writing, I felt a sense of fear, which I managed to trace back to the fact that I was writing something that I knew would be presented to a large audience over the internet. This blog post, which I feel has yielded some good results, actually started as a breakdown of the reasons why I was so uncomfortable writing a blog entry that would be read by people I didn't know. Only after writing for awhile did I realize that what I had been writing had a larger application than letting me know what I was scared of. The reasons that I dislike sharing my writing at times are the same as some of the reasons that others may feel some trepidation over presenting their work. I decided to adapt my own personal breakdown into something that I feel can help consultants in the writing center crack people who don

Preparing for Writing Fellows

At The Studio, we have a program called Writing Fellows. How the program works is that each consultant who participates is assigned a group of students from a class. From our assigned class, we're given a group of students and we then look over the students' papers and give them written feedback in letter format. After the students have been given time to look over the written feedback, we offer the students a face to face consultation with their fellow. This week will my second time working with the Fellows program. The first round of fellows went pretty rough for me but I think we're successfully ironing out the problems and making progress with the process. Although, the whole process of Writing fellows can be stressful at times, I find the the whole experience extremely beneficial and rewarding as a consultant and as a student. The main reason why I find Writing Fellows so rewarding is the written feedback. I've found a love with written feedback because it gives me

Video Consultations

Here at The Studio, Illinois Central College's writing lab, we have an end of the semester assessment assignment to understand and document our growth throughout the semester. Seeing as most of us, who aren't faculty, have only been consulting since the beginning of the semester in late August, this is a great way to discover how we problem solve and truly interact with our peer writers. The goal is to video tape yourself, however many times you feel is necessary, and watch them. You proceed to take important notes on: strategies you use, specific word choices, body language of both parties, and how well you helped them out as a writer instead of simply modifying the paper. I managed to take two video consultations this past Wednesday, one was a full 30 minute consultation. The other video died after seventeen minutes of video. I haven't had the opportunity to watch them quite yet, but I am interested to see how I consult from a third party standpoint. Of course to help ass


What’s one of the hardest parts of being a writing consultant? Well, for me, and I’m sure many others, the hardest part is being confident in your consulting skills and in what information you are passing on to the writer in need. I have been working in the writing center at Illinois Central College for almost a whole semester now, and my lack of confidence in what I am doing is what has tripped me up the most. This lack of confidence keeps me from doing my best as a consultant, which leads to desperate writers not getting the help they need and deserve. For this reason, I have decided to give some tips on boosting confidence, so that other consultants or tutors that are suffering from this same problem can maybe benefit from them Tip #1: Before entering into a consultation, take a deep breath and just look at the person you are going to be working with; that is all they are in fact: a person. They are not a ravenous lion. They are not an angry snake. They are not a wasp that will stin

Make a Connection

What I have found extremely beneficial to my growing as a student consultant is learning how to greet the student when they first enter for their consultation. I think this step can sometimes get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of getting everything in order to begin the consultation. And I know for me initially, it was easy to start concentrating on how the flow of the consultation would go that I would set myself and the student up for a bumpy ride. But to me this initial communication step is the first, and usually most crucial, step. And learning this has been a real eye opener for me because I find myself focusing more on making the student feel more comfortable and welcome when they first enter than I did when I first began working as a consultant. And I have found that by doing so, the rest of the consultation flows quite smoothly and the student seems to be more open to speaking up and communicating with me. I just find it fascinating how such a seemingly small part of the

Letting the Student Practice

One of the things we emphasize here at The Studio is equipping the students in our consultations with tools to help them be able to apply what they've learned in the consultation to other papers they have to write. To achieve that end, we try to get the student involved during the consultation. We have them practice what we've gone over. Finding ways to let the student practice in my consultations takes practice, pun intended. However, letting the student practice has many benefits, two of which are that you know that the student understand what you are saying and that the student can apply what she/he has learned to other essays. Take, for example, a student with an essay that has no thesis statement. You explain to the student what a thesis statement is and why it's important. The student is nodding politely the whole time, replying with an emphatic nod whenever you ask "Do you understand?" How do you know for sure that the student actually understands wh

The Planning Stage

This week I have been spending a lot of extra time here in the Studio, and because of this I have been able to observe several of my fellow consultants at work. While I have seen many good things at work here, I have also noted a vital step that seems to be missing in nearly every consultation I have seen-- the planning step. For those of you who do not know what the planning step is, let me enlighten you. The planing step is a vital step in the Anatomy of an Effective Consultation. In this step the consultant is to ask the writer what she or he wants to work on with the time remaining, giving some guidance. An example of this would be: "Alright Ben, we have about twenty minutes left. That gives us enough time to tackle two of the issues I have noted. Which would you like to tackle first?" This stage is important because it is a necessary tool to help the student lead the way. I think that often times it becomes too easy to take the reins of the consultation, and we dri

Andrea Lunsford talks technology

In her keynote address to the 2010 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing/International Writing Centers Association Conference, Andrea Lunsford discussed the perils of technology and the challenge that it places on writing centers.

Jenny talks about the benefits of being a high school peer writing tutor

At the 2010 National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing/International Writing Centers association joint conference in Baltimore, Maryland, Jenny talked with me about benefits of peer tutoring during the Scholar to Scholar session Brandon Alva and I presented.

The Hidden Lesson

Several aspects of a writing consultation involve isolation. We isolate ourselves in where we tutor- shutting ourselves into tiny carrels with just the client. We isolate aspects of papers that need work, while disregarding things that might be only considered “acceptable.” We isolate subjects and style guides and types of writing, without thinking how all types of writing are equally important. Mostly, though, tutors often forget about the emotional needs and wants of the client. We forget that while we have done the tutoring process over and over before with all types of people, many “first-timers” may feel isolated and nervous in their first session. My most vivid memory of this incident is with a client I had from Panama. His name was Ricardo and he was a freshman who had transferred during the spring semester. He came in with a lot of confidence about whom he was as a person, but still seemed very nervous about the contents of his paper. I could tell he was rather anxious, so I to

2010 Conferences

So, it's been a while since I have posted and it's good to be back. I was wondering how many of you are attending the IWCA-NCPTW conference in a few weeks and if you will be presenting? Or are you attending any other conferences? It will be good to know a few people on my first trip to Baltimore (can you tell I'm excited)!

Observation Reflections

My observations allowed me to better see the varied but similar methods of tutors in the SWC. When you shadow multiple tutors over a period of time, it becomes obvious that each has their own style, knowing what works for them. For example, some tutors choose to read to themselves before offering any critique, some ask the writer to read aloud, and some choose to read along together, asking questions along the way. I think a big lesson to take from the experience is that tutoring is by no means a science. While we may come up with theories about how the ideal tutorial looks like, we really can never rest on one idea over another because two things will always remain true: there are many ways to teach and there are many ways to learn. Because of these two truths there can never be an ideal tutorial, in my eyes. Sure, we aim to be as thoughtful and considerate as we can, but a tutor will rarely hit that perfect pitch within a 30-minute period; the situation just isn’t built f

Anti Racism Survey

This just in from Moira Ozias, a leader of the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA) SIG on Antiracist Activism: Hi, friends. The IWCA SIG on Antiracist Activism will be meeting at the upcoming IWCA/NCPTW Conference in Baltimore this fall.  We have been meeting since 2007 and would like to gather feedback from participants (and future participants) about the work and leadership of the SIG.  If you have a few moments, please click on the link below to answer a few questions.  Your answers will be anonymous, and the entire survey should take less than 5 minutes to complete. In solidarity, Moira Ozias, Beth Godbee and Frankie Condon

The Role of a Tutor

Kenrod James September 7, 2010 English 1810 Role of the Tutor??? Tutors play a vital role in the development and the progression of any student. Students go to a learning center to learn how to develop their writing skills and to receive guidance from someone who has expertise and more knowledge. This is where the difference between a tutor and a teacher comes in to play. Teachers are there to watch you and to set regulations on the material you learn and how you learn that material, whereas a tutor is there to guide you and allow you to create your own views and ideas. Tutors actually in my opinion, are more influential, because they allow for the student to find their own voice and develop their inner most thoughts and feelings. I know that tutors have the responsibility to judge whether a student actually wants help or if they are just looking for someone to write the paper for them. The relationship of the student tutor has to be one of respect. I think that the student has to

What Roles Do Tutors Play?

In class, we were talking about tutors and the roles they do play and the roles they should play. It got me thinking, I thought to myself, 'What do I think a tutor should do?' Thus, this is what I came up with: Tutors: Our Role Our role as tutors is to be the “backboard” to their “goal”; the writer’s goal being getting a good grade on their writing or maybe, just bettering their work. As the “backboard”, we let them bounce, or help them to bounce, their ideas off of us and in return, give them helpful, constructive feedback. As tutors, we are there to help them to learn how to properly edit their own papers and to give them inspiration and guidance when the writer’s may need it. Tutors are there to assist the writers learn more about writing and to help them manifest their visions and ideas, in a clear and cohesive manor, on to paper. As a tutor, one should never write the work for the writer, and the same could be said for any tutor in any area of study. The writers canno

Role of the tutor

Collin Bakker Reflective journal- What role does the tutor play…? I haven’t spent much time in the writing center… any time for that matter. I think I had to borrow a stapler from there once, so I guess that means I’ve spent a little time. It’s not really somewhere I’ve ever felt drawn to. To explain, I’m not a natural at writing. I’ve spent many hours late into the night with the word processor. Fighting, mostly… though as abusive as the relationship is, I’ve never felt so rewarded as when we finally put something together that works. Because of that, I feel that I have an intimate understanding of what students are going through when the words just won’t cooperate. Being in this position has its advantages, and disadvantages. I know how frustrating it can be when even after all your work someone has the gall to tell you it’s not good enough. But I’m probably going to try and fix the paper for the student because of it. I don’t want to have

Reflective Journal 2

The question asked for this journal is what role does the tutor play in helping the student learn about their writing? I believe the tutor plays a huge role in helping the student understand their writing and the best way to go about writing a paper. The tutor shouldn’t just write the paper for them they should ask questions about their style and what the writer would say in their own words, compared to what the tutor would say. Of course the tutor should give the writer input and feedback, but not everybody is exactly the same when it comes to writing. The tutor should understand the writer’s style, and incorporate that with their own to get the best results. When the tutor has suggestions or corrections to the writers paper they should explain to them what they are doing, and why they are doing it. I believe tutoring is a process of showing the writer their errors, and explaining to them what they can do to improve rather than rewriting the paper
Shane Dykes English 1810 Reflective Journal #2 For this reflective journal we are required to answer the question, what role does the tutor play in helping the student? To be completely honest I cannot completely answer this question from a writing center point of view because I have never been to a writing center and do not know exactly how all the teaching there works, but I am pretty familiar with the classroom setting writing tutor. We all know that writing centers are a bit different from class rooms and some may actually say that they are the complete opposite, however I feel like the role of the tutor is in the end the same whether they are in a class room or in a writing center. I feel like the ultimate goal is to make the writer better. The role of the tutor is to make sure that you help in a way that doesn’t slam the writer and doesn’t put them down. When I was in high school it was always your papers are graded in two ways bad, or good. Your paper was either good and receive

Tutoring and Control and Flexibility

A tutor can do many things to help a student learn how to become a better writer. However, after years if tutoring, a tutor can get into ruts that hinder performance, such as taking on the role of expert. I have been tutoring for several years now and feel that I have things to change with my approach, and I have decided that some good concepts to remember to prevent being a prescriptive expert rather than a descriptive helper are control and flexibility. Control and flexibility are important for both tutors and writers. Tutors need to work on using the concepts of control and flexibility in their tutoring. Taking more time to ask questions and explain would be more helpful to writers rather than giving advice right away. Control comes into play when the tutor asks questions directed toward higher order conders first. Flexibility comes into play when the tutor works with the answers writers provide, allowing writers to direct the course of the discussion. Expertise can be helpful in tu

Revision Reflections

This post is a revision of a reflection on "What role does the tutor play to help the student learn?" a question asked in my Writing Center Studies class. As part in the revision assignment, we were asked to have a mock-session with one of our classmates, taking turns acting as the tutor and then as a student, reading our reflections aloud. The next step was to revise our reflection based on the advice given in the tutorial session, and then reflect on how the tutorial session went. I confused myself, however, when doing the 2nd reflection and went on to talk about the corrections I made in the revision and why I made them. Hopefully this can still work to show how one goes about reflecting on their corrections. Revised Reflection To me, the role of a tutor is more descriptive than prescriptive. I previously thought tutors acted as editors but, as I’m quickly finding, this is not the case. The important aspects of tutoring seem to be guidance and “tutoring” as it’s defined, n

Advertising the Writing Center

Here at Salt Lake Community College Student Writing Center, we created a series of new video commercials for display both online and on our campus information screens.  Creating the videos was a fun process and involved many different people in the Student Writing Center.   The commercials are based on a common theme ("Don't hate.  Collaborate!") and end up telling a story. In any case, rather than sharing those, I'd rather share some rather creative and succinct commercials I just found from our friends at Brigham Young University.  Take a gander: Ok,ok, if you really want to see the SLCC SWC videos, go here .