Upon walking into the Writing Center I was met with several good impressions. I explained the purpose of my visit to the lady sitting at the front desk and was directed to take a seat until the student arrived for her appointment. The five minutes I sat in the chair by the door was spent taking in the details of my surroundings. The bulletin board to my right was full of humorous anecdotes in relation to the English language and common grammatical errors. I was immediately impressed by the fact that the posters listing common mistakes not only corrected the mistakes, but provided several examples of proper sentence structure and ways to remember the corrections. I began to draw parallels between the instruction on the board and I what I suspected would occur in a typical tutoring session. My suspicions were proved correct after only a few minutes of verbal exchange between the tutor and the student. The tutor was meeting with a returning Second Language Learning student to go over the conclusion of the essay and answer final questions. Some positive things I noticed regarding the session were that the tutor read the conclusions aloud as she reviewed it. When she happened upon an issue she asked the student, “What are you trying to say here?” and after collaboratively reviewing the statement, the tutor was able to provide several options for correct phrasing. They both took time for the student to make additions to the essay in the session. They seemed to have easy communication and kept the session light with laughter and conversation between revisions. The student even corrected the tutor at one point, which showed that she had internalized the rule that was explained to her earlier in the session. The tutor expressed what the student did well in addition to reiterating rules-particularly with citations. I especially appreciated that even though the tutor came up with several plans of action, the seemed to be working as a team. My first observation reinforced how essential collaborative learning is to the Writing Center and what the staff does there.
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I have posted a poll in the IWCA forums: IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll! It is a part of an earlier discussion that kind of petered out about the titles used for writing center workers. Please take a moment and vote! If you don't have an account on the forum, you can register for one by clicking on the "Register" link (next to the rocket icon in the top-right of the page.) Don't forget to state your institutional affiliation when you request and account. (That's how the IWCA Forum keeps out spam accounts.)
As a frightened freshman, I wandered deep in the bowels of the library basement. My eyes darted from room number to room number, looking for the aid my professor promised I could find. At the end of the hall, a golden light shone from an open doorway. My approach was slow and I lingered on the threshold. All uncertainty vanished when I was greeted with a smile and welcomed into the new world of the Tutoring Center. At the time, I did not know I would spend most of my weekdays in that room as a senior or how mundane this new world would become. How could I? I didn’t even know how much insight I would receive from my tutor that day! Being a learner in the writing center is a wholly different experience than being a tutor, yet I know many of my colleagues have not had the same learning experiences that I have. I think this is unfortunate because there is much that a tutor can gain from being a learner. It was my freshman year of college and everything was new. For me, that meant that fear
So, I was driving to school today and as always was listening to NPR (that's my self-promoting conversational piece informing you on how intelligent and connected I am) really, I just like the coverage on the campaign and "This American Life." Okay, I am already getting off topic and I haven't even gotten on topic yet. Anyhow, the story I was listening to was about a woman who used to be a part of the admissions committee at Dartmouth and is now working as an independent consultant helping students with the admissions process for schools. For a cool $40,000, she will work with you from 9th grade to graduation to help prepare you for your college admissions process. And for the budget price of $14,000, she will help you write and revise your college application essay. So, how in the world does this correlate to our world? Well, her work with college applications includes helping students decide on effective topics (staying away from "teen angst, or