Showing posts from March, 2014

To The Parents of...

As a father, when I see mail with those words in the address block, I’m expecting one of my children’s names.  Since I’m also an undergrad student, though, Texas A&M occasionally still sends something to my house, addressed “to the parents of Phillip Garner.”  They’re usually advertisements for apartment complexes, or telling my concerned guardians how well the school is keeping me safe.  At 35, though, my mother and father haven’t received a piece of mail on my behalf in a long time.  With my wife making jokes about mail tampering and “telling my mom,” I usually open and deal with the content myself; it’s not like I’m going to call up the school and complain, but those letters are indicative of a problem I deal with daily.  I am an anomaly in the university setting.  I am the infamous “nontraditional student,” something the university  doesn't  know quite how to deal with. For traditional students, university life can fill quickly with opportunities to engage with peers

Don't Tell Me How To Write, Teach Me

Endless tutoring sessions, the time consuming yet indispensable dictionary, the annoying translator that does not always make sense, and the frustration of not being able to convert your thoughts into words because of your lack of vocabulary. These are some of the problems we, writers who speak English as a second language, experience everyday. The desperation and lack of control we experience when we are writing in a different language is exhausting, but the feeling of helplessness you get when you get your first grade is the worst. Disappointment, frustration, anger, and sadness all pile up to tell you what you already know: that you are a complete failure. The red marker all over your paper pointing at commas, apostrophes, and grammatical errors is telling you that you failed.  That even though you used all of the resources available, you still failed, and that no matter how hard you try next time, you will probably still fail. How can ESL writers be punished for

Just Smile and Nod

          Let me begin by saying that I am an extremely awkward person. Not only do I trip over invisible things and fall over standing still, I have a really hard time making small talk with strangers and feel like I get lost in large groups where I don’t know anyone. As you might imagine, it was really difficult for me to transition into being a writing consultant, where my job requires me to confront my awkwardness head on and deal with strangers on a daily basis. With nearly two years of consulting under my belt, my confidence has definitely grown, and I find that I am better able to handle my awkwardness. Believe it or not, sometimes I can even use it to my advantage! My original fears have morphed into an assurance that I can handle any situation I’m thrown into, and recently I had a chance to test that theory.             Allow me to back track a little, if you will. Last summer, our writing center started a special English conversation program, where international students l

So You Think You Can Write, or How to Consult Confident Writers

            “Oh, you work at the writing center?  I've  never been there, because I don’t really need anyone to edit my papers, and I pretty much know how to write already.”  We've  all heard something along those lines, haven’t we? There seems to be this idea floating around everywhere that you only need the writing center if you don’t know how to write, which we all know  isn't  true. Nevertheless, this idea is the reason why we rarely see confident writers at the writing center.             Okay, but what exactly is a confident writer? For the purposes of this discussion, let’s define a confident writer as someone who is comfortable and familiar with the writing process, and who is capable of writing an essay, lab report, personal statement, or whatever without the aid of the writing center. These students are the ones who, because they’re happy with the grades they’re getting, don’t feel the need to come to the writing center for “help.” Also, I think that we can s

What is our problem?

By nature, people are very cautious beings. We have a wide variety of preventative medicine, we practice behaviors we should exhibit in case of an emergency, have emergency supplies hidden away, hoard back-ups, and back-ups for our back-ups; basically we like being secure. But crazy enough, many students, and occasionally even tutors, push themselves to dangerous anxiety and stress levels when it comes to writing on a deadline. We will wait until the last moment to write extensive research papers, reports, and all kinds of writing. But, being a species that would much rather do things “cautiously and safely”, the act of procrastination is a phenomena that I would like to decipher. I would like to know why. Why do we not always simply start earlier? We have to start sometime. Why do we not collect research earlier? Why do we wait until a feeling of panic encompasses us to actually get things done? I realize that not everyone procrastinates, but placed in the univer

PeerCentered Meet the Author Discussion for Spring 2014

We will have four Meet the Author discussions during April.  All discussions will be held on the PeerCentered TinyChat discussion space at . We have a wide variety of topics this time around…ranging from community writing centers to in-class peer response. Tuesday, April 1, 2014 at 3 pm Eastern Time Tiffany Rousculp:  Rhetoric of Respect: Recognizing Change at a Community Writing Center For our first Meet the Author discussion of 2014, we'll be chatting with   Tiffany Rousculp   author of _Rhetoric of Respect: Recognizing Change at a Community Writing Center_. Tiffany is associate professor of English at   Salt Lake Community College   where she teaches composition, linguistics, and sociolinguistics courses. She is the founding director of the   SLCC Community Writing Center . "Drawing from her decade leading Salt Lake Community College's Community Writing Center (CWC), Tiffany...advocates cultivat

International Student Workshops: The Theory Behind the Magic

International Student Workshops: The Theory Behind the Magic      This blog post is meant to be an accompaniment to my previous post on international student workshops. In the first post, I discussed how the workshop works. Now, it’s important to look at the theory behind these programs to truly understand why they can be used effectively.      The literature analyzing international student learning often fails to encompass the potential that lies in the learning environment of a workshop. A workshop provides its attendees with basic guidance and instruction while they perform the exercises of the program. The workshop participants receive two types of interactions: instructor guidance and peer support. With regards to the international student workshops, a small workshop allows students to personally communicate with their English-speaking instructor, an essential step to learning English that can usually only be attained in one-on-one sessions. This allows students a judg