Back in January of this year, during a visit to Pellissippi State Community College in Knoxville, Tennessee, President Obama announced a plan to provide two free years of community college attendance for eligible students, and earlier this month the U.S. Senate began to draft a bill intended to put the initiative into action. This follows intense lobbying that has made public and private HBCUs and minority-serving institutions part of the initiative, and the 90 billion-dollar plan is under intense scrutiny from all sides. The question this raises is why the existing challenges of community college students and scholars are not.Read More
Writing Center directors have the most control over internal factors: who is hired as a tutor, what criteria are used to hire, and how tutors are trained. We rarely have any say over where our centers are located, or how they are designed and equipped. Too often, writing centers are shoved into any unused corner or classroom available. The space isn’t chosen for its effectiveness. It is chosen simply because no one else wanted it. But if space is the most important factor in determining whether students return to a writing center, recommend that writing center, or believe that the tutors in that writing center have the ability to effectively share a body of knowledge (As my research suggests), and center directors have little or no influence over that factor, are directors being unfairly evaluated when their administration looks at their ability to retain current users, and bring in more?Read More
As we prepare to publish another issue of Praxis this week, we're thinking about time. As editors, we think about time in terms of deadlines, publication schedules, author time-to-publication, and upcoming projects, all of which are fairly discrete, tidy units. Someone has to do something by a certain moment, or in a series of certain moments, and as editors our job is to be that someone or to assist that someone, and to hold the timeclock. It's a little like a race, and just like at the end of a race, we're a little tired, a little sweaty, and a little proud right now.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
Today in the academy we are writing lesson plans and finalizing syllabi, writing e-mails to students and finishing novels and bracing ourselves for the start of the spring semester, which at UT Austin begins tomorrow.
Today in the United States, we honor the memory of Martin Luther King, Jr., and the civil rights movement, and we think seriously about their legacy. In what ways is the current moment a continuation of slavery and colonialism, of civil war and civil rights? In what ways have we broken with that history, and to what endsRead 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
Our work in “Disrupting Authority: Writing Mentors and Code-Meshing Pedagogy” describes the idea behind—and the plans for—combining a course-embedded writing tutors program and code-meshing pedagogy at our small, private Historically Black College (HBCU) in order to challenge language hegemony in the writing classroom. The article was the first time either of us had attempted co-authoring. Writing in the plural “we” felt a little strange, especially at first. We wrote most of the paper side-by-side in Cecilia’s office, alternately talking or typing. Because identity (and identity in language) is such an important part of our topic, we wanted to discuss our experiences in co-authoring in a way that let our individual voices be heard. We thought a chat might do the trick.Read More
In our article, “When Writing Fellows Become Reading Fellows: Creative Strategies for Critical Reading and Writing in a Course-Based Tutoring Program,” we discuss methods for engaging First Year Writing students in critical reading and writing practices through a series of small group session plans we called pivot points. Reflecting upon this work pushed us to develop new ways to engage students, led to two regional conference presentations, and ultimately, the writing of this piece.
As we were writing, we found ourselves thinking about ways to sustain the collaborative and reflective aspects of our fellows' work. For Melissa, this meant continuing to use the momentum from the five fellows (all graduating seniors) from the fall 2013 semester into the summer and fall 2014 semesters. For Ricky, this meant applying fellows' practices during his own transition to a graduate program in information management and systems.Read More
Building off Mary’s metaphor, I can say that my time at the International Writing Center Association conference brought me in contact with different, equally fascinating writing center kingdoms.
One was the kingdom of writing center outreach to underserved high schools. In a session entitled “It’s a Small World: Creating Collaborative Communities,” Denise Stephenson spoke about the challenges involved in setting up effective collaborations across institutions. High schools have different structures than colleges, different professional jargon, different pressures on teachers (think mandated testing), and different points of entry. This last difference was particularly challenging for Denise, who found herself directed to talk to administrators instead of teachers about the kind of support her consultants could provide. The message got lost along the communication chain, and her first tutors found themselves underutilized—a situation she has since corrected by insisting on meeting with the teachers well before the start of the academic year.Read More
The 2014 IWCA conference, held this weekend at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort, Orlando Florida, was titled, appropriately enough, "The Wonderful World of Writing Centers." And much like DisneyWorld itself, it demonstrated that each kingdom contains its own sub-kingdoms, intersecting and connecting.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
Every good website needs a blog, we thought. And then we were sad, because the idea of a blog felt like a burden. Every good website needs to constantly churn out content into an overloaded digital space.Read More