Due to an overwhelming response to this issue’s theme, Professionalization and the Writing Center, Praxis has decided to do its first double issue! The first part of this series takes on a wide range of questions and perspectives on the topic of the writing center’s place in professional development. Our idea for the issue came out of our own Undergraduate Writing Center here at UT. In a Praxis query of the UWC staff, one consultant had this to say, “Working at the UWC has opened a world of opportunities for me to interact with several departments on campus in a leadership capacity. I have sharpened my skills as a presenter, researcher and writer. Moreover, I have learned new and innovative ways to connect with people, students in particular, which serves me well in my own work. While working at the Undergraduate Writing Center, I have grown as a scholar and as a person.” With former consultants becoming directors, such as this issue’s director of the Featured Center, Eliana Schonberg, and a dedicated staff of graduate and undergraduate consultants, the Praxis editors felt professionalization was a topic close to home for all writing centers.
Our Focus section reveals the many ways in which writing center personnel look at the process of professionalization in their own centers. Jonikka Charlton, in surveying larger trends in the field, demonstrates how the roles writing center director and writing program administrator are being professionalized by an increase in dissertations specializing in their areas. Tiffany Bourelle, on the other hand, shows us how being a writing center tutor has prepared her for the administrative responsibilities she faces as a professor, something, she says, that writing her PhD could never have taught her. Julian Brasington and Wendy Smeets show how when directors rely on tutors for insight, the tutors in-turn professionalize their own roles. Similarly, Naomi Silver, Carrie Luke, Lindsay Nieman and Nichole Premo track the growth and development of tutors going from consultants to colleagues. Conversely, Claire Lutkewitte details how her role as director has been shaped by interaction with her tutors. Jennifer Jefferson, Amy Cohn, Ellen Goldstein, Chris Wallis and Lindsey Campell discuss the role the writing center plays in their varied careers: a writer, an editor, an instructor, and an alumna. And, finally, Tim Taylor, Nia Klein, Kristi McDuffie, Fern Kory, Devin Black and Serena Heath explore how proper timing plays a tremendous role in consulting, professionalization, and personal development as a tutor and writer.
In our Training section, Rebecca Day Babcock’s interview with Ben Rafoth (a Ron Maxwell Award winner) continues the conversation began in Charlton’s essay about the move toward professionalizing the field of writing center work. They discuss the current state of jobs, research and dissertations in the field. R. Evon Hawkins reviews The Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice by Anne Geller, Michele Eodice, Frankie Condon, Meg Carroll and Elizabeth Boquet. Hawkins explains the relevance and importance of this book to tutor practice at the everyday level. Finally, Katerina Koutsantoni discusses valuable training models for tutoring students with special circumstances.
In our Consulting section, Virginia Tucker bridges the gap between “normal” student discourse and the “abnormal” discourse of the academy, and writing specifically. At the same time, she emphasizes that classroom discourse needs to more closely approximate the discourse developed between tutor and tutee, using the teacher or the tutor as a resource instead of source of knowledge. Kelly Kamp offers insight into brainstorming consultations and topic generation.
Our Featured Center this month is the University Writing Center at Denver University. The DU center was a natural choice for this issue of Praxis since the Director of Denver University’s Writing Center, Eliana Schonberg is a former consultant and Assistant Director of the University of Texas’s Undergraduate Writing Center, as well as a founding editor of Praxis. We asked Schonberg about her specific thoughts on professionalization and the move from UT to DU. Our Consultant Spotlight this issue is Sydney Boyd, a consultant at University of Idaho Writing Center.
In our Columns section, the Undergraduate Writing Center Research Group discusses professionalization from the perspective of three graduate students consultants. The paper discusses the experiences of these three consultants and how their varied academic backgrounds play a role in their writing center work. The Merciless Grammarian answers your questions about proper email etiquette.