Showing posts from November, 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.