It’s often said that our failures provide the best opportunities for learning in life. When we fail, we’re confronted by a question and a decision. What happened, and what will I do to improve for next time? The way we proceed from there has big ramifications for our successes and failures down the road.Read More
I don’t know what the energy levels are like where you are but, from where I sit at a computer tucked in the back of the WC, things feel like pell-mell frenzy meets the very last ions of the battery reserves. If we’re anything like our cellphones—and, given how much those devices have become extensions of our body, I’d say the similitude can’t be denied—exclamation points have replaced the more regular percentages indicating how much power is left. This occurs at five percent on mine and is immediately followed by a “battery critically low” alert.Read More
Today marks the exact middle of the month immortalized as the cruelest by T.S. Eliot—at least within the world(s) of Anglophone letters. While UT-Austin’s undergraduate population may disagree with everything else Eliot wrote, the ever-increasing hustle and bustle of the UWC (University Writing Center) suggests they’d likely agree with “The Waste Land’s” opening line.Read More
“So what brings you into the writing center today?” “Well, I’m not a very good writer…” Of the first exchanges I have with students visiting the writing center, some version of the above is what I hear perhaps most frequently.Read More
Lately, I have been writing eagerly on the subject of writing centers and disability disclosure. An important topic, for certain, but much of what I am researching and writing deals with sessions in which it is the tutee/writer who has a disability and therefore must navigate disclosure. In thinking about this, I am asking myself: What does disclosure in writing centers currently look like for a tutee with a disability? What should it look like? How does how we handle disability disclosure inform our practices—and how should our practices inform how we handle disability disclosure?
And yet, dealing with disclosure in the writing center is an everyday occurrence for me—only in the opposite direction. This is because 100% of my sessions happen with a person with a disability—but that person is me.
Kerri Rinaldi is a faculty writing center consultant at Drexel University. Her research interests include self-initiated writing practices and the framing of disability in writing center theory and practiceRead More
When I first began working in the Writing Center, I was pretty astonished at the “types” of consultations that begin to appear over and over again: the brainstorming consultation, the revision consultation, the personal statement or application consultation, the ELL consultation, and finally the disability consultation. Every type seems to have its own unique mood and methodology, and now I find myself stepping into the rhythm of each writing project with a sense that I’ve heard this melody before. This is perhaps because I myself, like all other writing center consultants, have also experienced the writing process over and over again at each of its stages. But I also have experienced a different process, separate from writing, which is nonetheless deeply ingrained into my own writing center rhythms. My process is the process of requesting disability accommodation, not for my clients, but for myself. “Hello,” I say, “welcome to the writing center. Usually we go ahead and ask you where you would like to sit. But I do things a little differently. I am hard of hearing, and I need a more quiet space so that I can hear you and help you. Would you mind following me?” The students are always very accepting – they smile, they say, “that’s okay,” and they usually take the trouble to speak up when asked. I’ve never had trouble with this step in the process— each student I’ve worked with so far has been as eager to help me as they were eager to be helped.Read More
I am just finishing the semester with ENG 408B: Tutoring Student Writers. In that class, I try to not only provide students with sound theoretical footing and practical experience but also engagement with real discussions within the field. Early on, when we were working to get a handle on the broad-stroke roles and practices of writing center consultants, I asked them to read Trimbur’s “Peer Tutoring: A Contradiction in Terms?” paired with Brooks’ “Minimalist Tutoring: Making the Student Do All the Work” because, together, these pieces provoke questions about writing consultant authority, which I played against nondirectivity and Socratic dialogue. These have been consistently provocative and engaging conversations with these concepts and sources because there is no simple or single right answer.Read More
Unease has long been an important part of my work as a writing consultant, both because there are some practices that I feel uneasy about, and because I have long believed that moments of unease - those long, awkward silences in the middle of a session - can be vital to a successful consultation.Read More
I've always had a theory that the rhetorics of science and religion have more in common than they let on. Call it confirmation bias, but Courtney Bailey Parker's article on "spiritualized language" in the most recent issue of Praxis highlights some of these parallels.
Parker's article describes spiritualized language as a kind of jargon with unstable meaning that is frequently used by students in religious communities: phrases like "house of god"; "biblical attitude"; or the "spirit of god" appear as examples.
Parker identifies two problems with this discourse. First, it may provoke unintended responses from "readers who are not familiar or not complicit with [religious] language." Second, it may lack the nuance of a more sophisticated engagement with faith.Read More
It’s five o’clock on a Monday afternoon, and, while much of campus is shutting down, the Writing Center is buzzing with conversation: there are eight consultations going on, two students checking in, one student filling out an evaluation, a consultant writing a note. Walking through, you hear, over and over, the same thing: consultants asking students about their papers.Read More