Karen-Elizabeth Moroski is the Co-Curricular Programs Coordinator, Writing and Languages at Pennsylvania State University
There’s so much joy in our work: Why not share it?
#WCjoy is a brand-new, bi-weekly twitter chat (Thursdays, 8 PM, EST), wherein WPAs, tutors, composition instructors, writers, etc. are invited to share their anecdotes, quotes, memories and various ways of expressing the joy we find in Writing Center work.
There are two goals for the chat:
The #wcjoy chat seeks to create an informal but still organized space for WPAs to meet, make friends, and experience a positive sense of community together. Follow others from the chat! Make friends! We are, quite literally, here for that reason.
The #wcjoy chat seeks to encourage WPAs, etc. to carve time out of their busy workweeks for mindfulness and reflection on the very moments and people who make our work so wonderful. This type of attention fosters gratitude, and gratitude in turn fosters joy.
Chat Dates for Fall 2017:
Here’s how it works.
Each bi-weekly session, questions will be posted to Write Centered Monday of that week.
At 8:00PM on Thursday, @write_centered will tweet out a welcome.
Follow the Chat Norms below for the rest.
Follow the moderator (@write_centered)
Questions are tweeted out with “Q” and question number.
Responses should start with “A” and corresponding Q# at the start of your tweet
Always use the hashtag #wcjoy to keep us organized!
Kindness and respect, always.
Users who attack or harm others will be blocked by participants.
Use the #wcjoy tag OFTEN and WELL! No need to reserve use for just the chat.
If you can’t attend the chat on time but want to answer questions, that’s totally cool. Just follow the chat norms, so we can still trace where you’re coming from and where you’re headed in your replies.
Over the next few months, we will be posting on writing centre work in China. Contributing are 杨雪 Xue (Rachel ) Yang, Beijing Normal University, Zhuhai School of Design; 宋凌珊 Lingshan Song, Writing Center Assistant Director, Mississippi College; Jessie Cannady, Module Convenor Writing Centre, Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University; Brian Hotson, Director, Academic Learning Services, Saint Mary’s University; and Julia Combs, Writing Center Director, Southern Utah University.
We first came up with the idea of establishing our own Writing Center in Spring 2015. We were facing an ever-increasing number of students enrolled who had to grapple with higher expectations in English competency. The program we build at the School of Design focuses tremendously on a globalized education which internalizes its doctrine in preparing students to be more active and engaged global participants through its ever more internationalized guiding themes, curriculum framework, teaching staff, study environment, and exchange program. A heavily IELTS-driven English language curriculum has therefore been introduced. 2+2 program students are required to pass the official IELTS test before the end of their sophomore year so that they can transition smoothly to a collaborative overseas program. 4+0 program students are asked to prove their English proficiency through IELTS as well since starting from the third year, all their design-related major courses will be instructed by lecturers/professors sent from Germany, where English is the main and only teaching language in class. At this point they will have no help from teaching assistants anymore. 4+0 program students will also need the IETLS score report for them to receive the bachelor’s degree from the German university side.
From this description, you can get a sense of how English language proficiency is a matter of life or death for students in our program.
Nearly every instructor in our English language team has some education background in a foreign country, and thus we are considerably excited and revitalized by the Writing Center idea. I did my master’s degree at Boston College which has a writing center that I took huge advantage of. The BC writing center is a sub session within an overarching learning center, which centers on tutoring that covers over 60 subjects, ADHD & Learning Disability Support Services, and writing support. “Writing support” is similar to what we have here at the School of Design Writing Center.
The Writing Center officially launched in September 2016, and we called it the “beta” trial version. We were the first on-campus writing center at our university, basically with no prior experience to build on. Thus, the format of the tutorial, size of student populations we intended to serve, and what kind of tutors we wanted to hire were all tricky problems we encountered. There is no perfection in your first try. What matters is that you do try. Bearing in mind this belief, we decided that the tutorial should follow the format of an ESL writing assistance session. These writing appointments focus on not only helping students formulate their writing ideas, structure and flow of papers, but also checking for their grammatical mistakes. Students are asked to come prepared with drafted writing pieces and attempted problems. Student population size is another thing that is hard to predict. The writing center aims at serving sophomores of international cooperation programs, accounting for over 450 students in total. However, this writing appointment service is on a completely voluntary basis, making the visits tricky to predict. We later agreed on providing 10 available sessions to the students and seeing how things go as time went on. As for recruiting tutors, we soon abandoned the idea of hiring student tutors. Back in early 2015, we did hire some senior student tutors from the School of Foreign Language to help our students with IELTS reading and listening, but it did not end up well. One of the challenges was it was extremely difficult to recruit sufficiently qualified tutors with a proper sense of responsibility and another was that the student tutors’ schedules varied to a great degree which caused unnecessary trouble for scheduling writing appointments.
Throughout the past 10 months, we have accrued concrete records of the Writing Center visits and plan to use these data for further adjustment of scheduling, which parallels the “big data” trend in the Internet environment where information is being densely analyzed for manifold purposes. Through browsing our visit tracking book we can easily see the pattern of student visits: which weeks are the peak visiting periods, which time during the day is mostly preferred, which student groups like to take advantage of this service the most, and which tutors are most frequently booked by the students. Continue reading “Writing Centers in China | The Writing Center @BNUZ School of Design | Part 1 of 5”→
In the past decade, the Secondary School Writing Center (SSWC) movement has gained tremendous momentum and traction, and perhaps no region has seen such rapid growth in the establishment of SSWCs as the greater Washington, D.C. area. When I became co-director of the Herndon Writing Center in 2012, I was excited about what our center could do within our school. It wasn’t until I became involved with the network of SSWCs that eventually became the Capital Area Peer Tutoring Association (CAPTA) that I recognized how important it is for me to engage in a professional community dedicated to celebrating and supporting the work that SSWCs do. In an effort to highlight the ways in which CAPTA has unified and amplified the voices of SSWCs, I reached out to long-time and new CAPTA members to ask them to share how our network has helped them to legitimize and sustain the work we all do in our SSWCs.
CAPTA has grown out of what was once an informal network of SSWCs that began in Fairfax County, Virginia. Amber Jensen established one of the first area SSWCs at Edison High School in Fairfax County, Virginia, in 2009, and by 2011, SSWCs had established enough of a presence in the region to warrant partnering with the University of Maryland and George Mason University in hosting what has become an annual peer tutoring conference hosted by CAPTA. “From the beginning, it was evident that the sustainability of our centers would require working together to develop a vision for the role of an SSWC director and to collaborate on creating and sharing resources specifically tailored to our contexts,” Jensen explains. “The growth of SSWCs in our area, I think, is directly related to the work of this informal network of directors to create and share replicable implementation models, to collaborate in creating and modifying resources, and to support and share the emotional labor of defining and continually negotiating our positions in our schools and within the greater writing center scholarly community.”
In 2014, six SSWC Directors—Amber Jensen of Edison High School; Beth Blankenship of Oakton High School; Alison Hughes of Centreville High School; Jenny Goransson of West Springfield High School; Hannah Baran of Albemarle High School; and me—officially founded CAPTA, an organization dedicated to building community among, promoting advocacy for, and supporting the development and sharing of resources for new and existing SSWCs in the greater Washington, DC, area.
While many of us acknowledged the need for and sought out opportunities to connect with other university writing centers around the country via existing peer tutoring networks, we quickly realized that SSWCs, their directors, and their tutors faced challenges and opportunities unique to the world of secondary schools. CAPTA was born of the need to create a sustainable network that specifically catered to our needs, that legitimized our work, and that encouraged scholarship in the field of SSWCs.
Janice Jewell, founder of the Herndon Writing Center, reflects, “The creation of CAPTA gave a wider sense of legitimacy to the fledgling writing centers. I think that as centers become established, participation in CAPTA normalizes these programs, so that once established, they become part of their communities, and the impulse to do away with them can subside.” As a diverse group of directors from schools with diverse needs, the formalization of the CAPTA network helped us to establish norms and identify our own best practices for sustaining successful SSWCs.
Trisha Vamosi, Director of the Eagle Writing Center at Osbourn High School in Manassas, VA, and CAPTA’s website curator, has found “the resources and guidance from other directors to be overwhelmingly supportive. CAPTA has provided not only an irreplaceable resource toolkit, but a space inviting constant networking” among directors in the field.
WLN editor, Dr. Mickey Harris, writes with a special announcement:
More and more writing centers now exist within or are moving into learning centers (or Student Success Centers or Academic Skills Centers, or whatever name they are given), but how are they faring? This complex question needs to be explored from numerous perspectives and by numerous voices, so we at WLN have decided to ask you to identify problems you’re solving and write about positive aspects of existing within a learning center and how you achieved success.
What wisdom, insights, solutions can you pass along to others? What are conditions that could prove to be problematic? Consider your audience as other writing center directors who are wondering how to fit in or improve their writing center and want to learn from colleagues who have clarified problems and found solutions. This will be a collaborative effort of as many voices as we can fit in to an issue of WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship.
Please send your 1500-word (Works Cited included in that number) responses to the editors:
Kim Ballard: <email@example.com>
Lee Ann Glowzenski <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Muriel Harris <email@example.com>
“Ditch Writing Stress Through Journaling”– Matt Baker from the University of Nevada, Reno writing center discusses the benefits of keeping a journal and where journaling falls within the writing process. [University of Nevada, Reno]
“Everyone Loves a Slinky”– Brodie Willard from Texas A&M University writing center discusses a tutoring session where using toys helped communicate feedback to a writer. [Peer Centered]
“Four Resolutions for the New Semester”– David Gooblar lays out four goals for his teaching practice. What are your resolutions for the upcoming academic year? Let us know in the comments! [Vitae]
Karen Johnson, Associate Professor at Shippensburg University, and Ted Roggenbuck, Associate Professor at Bloomsburg University, direct writing centers in the same state system. Over the past several years, they have collaborated to develop cross-institutional trainings and research. Their ongoing discussions and scholarship about educating writing tutors span several publications, conferences, and workshops, piquing their thirst for topics surrounding tutor education.
Key to our success in the important work of writing centers is our effectiveness in providing tutor education. Our field has over three decades of scholarship on how to educate writing tutors in a multitude of settings, but the wealth and variety of resources can create challenges for those seeking guidance. However, that we also have a number of excellent and popular (though not universally used) resources such as The Bedford Guide for Writing Tutors, The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring, and The Oxford Guide for Writing Tutors does suggest at least some consistency in how we educate tutors. But to what degree do we share core beliefs about tutor education, how do we know what aspects of our programs to prepare writing tutors are most effective, and to what areas are we not paying adequate attention? Moreover, what are effective contexts for educating tutors? Although credit-bearing courses appear to be ideal contexts for tutor education, what particular aspects of a course make it effective? And for directors who are unable to offer a course or even paid time for educating tutors, how can they effectively prepare tutors for the different rhetorical situations and writers they will encounter?
Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:
“Managing an anxiety disorder in higher ed is a full time job”- This author discusses their generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and anxiety-provoking assumptions (APAs) in terms of how they directly relate to a career in academia, as well as personal anxiety management techniques that they use. [The Guardian]
“From Learning Commons to Learning Communities”- This article from the American Society for Interior Designers explores how learning spaces can be designed to best fit millennial learners. In particular, the author discusses a “mixed-use learning zone” at the University of Florida. Does anyone have a writing center designed in this way? Let us know in the comments! [Icon]
“Why Mentoring Others Has Helped Me”- This post discusses how mentorship can be beneficial not just to mentees, but also to mentors. In relation to writing center work, this sentence stood out:
“One wonderful benefit of working with younger students or professionals is that they were more recently in school, and can help keep you current with the latest information, best practices, and new techniques in your industry.”
Within our centers, it is key to consider how tutors can assist in the decision making process when it comes to tutoring techniques and practices, as well as choosing which technologies to use! [Huffington Post]
“Summer Reading List”– As the school year winds down for many of us, we turn to a hobby that often gets neglected during the school year: reading for fun! In this post, Inside Higher Ed contributors share what they’ve been reading lately. [University of Venus]
A communal coffee pot (or perhaps a Keurig), grammar textbooks, computers, loose leaf paper: things you’ll probably find in writing centers from Texas to Toronto and beyond. Recently in the WCENTER listserv, a question arose regarding ways a new director could decorate his/her center. Of course, there are many ways to answer this question, and many answers were offered: posters, chairs, rugs, paintings, local newspaper articles. However, the suggestion that struck a chord with me was student art. You see, my multidisciplinary center has three large murals painted on our walls, and all of them were designed by students for a Typography course. My center uses these murals as ways to brand ourselves on campus. They represent our mission as well as our values to students, and we absolutely adore them.
So how did my center come to have these large murals? I can tell you with certainty, it wasn’t originally our plan! A few years ago, my center relocated from a small room in the nursing building to the second floor of our library tower. We filled our new space with the typical items from above. It wasn’t unlike many other centers across the world: computers, funny memes pinned to the walls, pencils, and scratch paper. The idea of murals never entered our minds. That is, until we saw our student phone operator, a graphic design major, working on some homework for her Typography course. The assignment asked students to sketch and alter letters and numbers. As our center is a multidisciplinary office, the sketches of various letters and numbers seemed to be a perfect way to illustrate what we did. We asked if she thought her class could do a mural in the same vein as her homework. She was delighted at the prospect! So our director contacted the Typography professor and told her our idea.
The professor immediately agreed. She thought it would give her students not only good experience working with clients but also pride in seeing their work become a part of campus. Our office agreed to buy any materials needed, and she agreed her students would paint it. Campus administration had previously told us we could decorate the space as we pleased, so we didn’t even have to fill out forms or requests (this may not be the case at every university; check in with your campus administration about regulations). As our walls were gray, we asked the students to design a black mural. It also needed to incorporate elements of both numbers and text that represented our services. To get a feel for our attitude and work, we linked the students to our campus website and gave them a copy of our mission statement. Continue reading “AUM Collaborates with Student Artists to Create Murals in Learning Center”→
Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar lately:
“We Need to Retain Highly Qualified Directors in College and University Writing Centers,” – This petition calls on administrators to end the practice of dissolving writing centers and replacing qualified writing center directors with administrators who have minimal experience in writing center administration or theory. Sign to show your support! [Change.org]
“A Final Round of Advice for Final Exams” – Because final exams and the end of the school year are fast approaching at many colleges and universities, The Chronicle of Higher Education has compiled highlights from their posts about finals. One of our favorites is approaching finals as a “finale” rather than an exam. [The Chronicle of Higher Education]
“‘Something Magical in Meeting with a Group of Like-Minded People’: Graduate Writing Groups in the Writing Center – This post discusses the structure of writing groups for graduate students at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and then features seven doctoral students who share why they attend the writing groups and what they get out of them. [Another Word]
“Why grad schools should require students to blog”- In this post, Maria Konnikova shares the connections she sees between her academic and popular writing and asserts that academia should more thoroughly embrace non-academic writing pursuits. [Scientific American]
Editor’s Note: The University of British Columbia in Canada, which has an enrollment of about 60,000 students, is planning on closing its Writing Centre. Tutors have been fighting to prevent this closure. We interviewed a UBC Writing Centre tutor, Cole Klassen, about current and future efforts to fight the closure of the Writing Centre.
You can find our initial post on the UBC Writing Centre closure here. To show your support for keeping the UBC Writing Centre open, you can sign this petition!
Hi Cole! Can you tell us about your studies at UBC and your work at the Writing Centre?
I transferred from Douglas College to UBC last summer. I’m just finishing my third year. I am in the creative writing BFA program and I am minoring in philosophy. I’ve worked at the UBC writing centre since the start of the fall semester as a peer writing tutor. I began tutoring at the Douglas College Learning Centre, where I worked as an online and face to face writing and content peer tutor for two years.
Who is involved in the efforts to keep the UBC Writing Centre open? What have you done so far?
The movement was started by current and past UBC writing centre tutors. We started by creating the online petition, then worked to spread the word through sharing it on social media, emailing instructors, and visiting their classes to talk to students. One of our tutors also did an interview for the Ubyssey article on the issue. We also emailed Writing Centre experts for advice, such as people from the IWCA. We’ve been collecting letters to submit with the petition as well, from some students, UBC teachers and officials, and writing centre experts. Recently we spoke to some UBC officials about how to proceed with the petition, and plan to submit it soon.Continue reading “Interview with UBC tutor Cole Klassen”→
Here’s some of what has been on the WLN news radar this week:
Small changes can improve teaching (and tutoring!). James M. Lang offers three activities for boosting engagement in the first few minutes of class. These strategies—such as asking what they already know about a subject—can be useful to tutors as well. With many institutions starting up a new semester, now can be a great time to re-examine teaching and tutoring practices! [The Chronicle of Higher Education]
A new book advocates creating a more individualized higher education experience. This article explores the ideas in Todd Rose’s The End of Average: How to Succeed in a World that Values Sameness. In terms of colleges and universities, Rose advocates for less focus on grades and “seat hours” and more student agency. [Times Higher Education]
Teaching and writing for the ear. Like many writing center professionals, Dr. Stuart Sherman believes in the connection between good writing and reading out loud. Complete with sample feedback, this article walks readers through Sherman’s approach to teaching writing, which relies heavily on students writing for the ear. [PC Mag]
Special Announcement: Introducing WcORD of the Day! This Facebook page, curated by Patrick Hargon, shares daily posts from WcORD, a searchable database of writing center resources. WcORD invites all members of the writing center community to add their own resources and share the database on their websites and social media outlets!
Participants described Consultants Day as “a superb and very worthwhile event” (Brenda Vivian, University of Pretoria), “informative” (Taahira Goolam Hoosen, UCT), “a turning point for consultants/ peer tutors nationally as it recognized and validated their experiences” (Laura Dison, Wits), “a delightful treat as well as an educational and interesting journey” (Zandile Xesha, Wits), “eye-opening” (Lisa Weideman, NMMU) and “warm and collaborative” (Ben Saxby, Stellenbosch).
Cram Jam”, “Writers’ Block Party”, or “Final Paper Countdown”– International Write-In events may go by many names, but all share one goal: to unite student writers to remind them that they aren’t alone with their writing.
After a successful first run in December that saw over 1000 students come together on 27 college campuses and across social media for a week of writing events, the Spring 2015 International Write-In has become even bigger, with 44 colleges and universities participating between April 24 and May 5. This semester’s group includes a variety of institutions spanning Community Colleges, SLACs, HBCUs, and R1s, each providing writers with a space to come together to write. Participants have been connecting via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with #IntlWriteIn, and will continue to do so throughout the event. Swarthmore College’s Writing Associates Program is proud to have helped sponsor the Spring 2015 International Write-In by connecting participating colleges and universities online. For more information, please check out the International Write-In webpage.
For a sample of some of the action, check out some of the highlights below:
From Mary Jane Curry, PhD. Associate Professor of Language Education at the Department of Teaching & Curriculum at the Warner Graduate School of Education of the University of Rochester
After successful colloquia at AILA and AAAL on global academic publishing, Theresa Lillis and I are pleased to issue this call for proposals to contribute a book chapter to an edited volume to be published by Multilingual Matters: Global academic publishing: Policies, practices, and pedagogies. Proposals due to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 15. Details included in the call for proposals, below.
Waaaay back in 1977, when I started WLN, those of us who were opening new or developing existing writing centers needed a way to keep in touch. In those ancient days before the Internet and e-mail, I thought a newsletter would help us to keep in touch with each other and share information or resources or just let each other know where we were. Over the years, WLN morphed into a journal with articles that are peer reviewed, a scholarly publication. So it is now a journal, not a newsletter, and it’s time to recognize that Writing Lab Newsletter is no longer a name that fits appropriately. But we want to hang on to a bit of our past and not forget where we started from, the WLN part.
Beginning with Vol. 40.1, in September, the publication will be (drum roll, please…..)
WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship
Eventually, instead of referring to WLN, we’ll use WCS as a shorthand when we don’t stop to spell out the full name, and we invite you to do so also. I hope you like the new name as much as we do.