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.
While I admit I was once intrigued by the prostitute-consultant analogy, not by what Scott Russell had to say about it but by some of the id...