Editor’s note: This semester, I asked my senior undergraduate consultants to share their best advice with the rest of the tutoring team. I love what they shared–and was delighted to get some tips-and-tricks from some other centers.
Vanessa Nakoski, Montgomery College – Rockville
Kill the Magic of Editing: While it’s tempting to show off to a student and produce the answers out of thin air, it’s more effective to dispel the mystery. Explain to the students what you’re doing as you’re doing it to model how they might replicate the process.
Instead of simply saying, “I won’t proofread for you,” tell the student “Let me show you how I look at your work to find errors so that you can learn to see your work the way I do.”
Etiquette & Organization: Students usually have a pretty clear idea about what they believe or think, but they get stumped trying to put it on the page. Ask them to state their thesis and then “Convince me out loud!” Students are so polite (and aware of time constraints) that they won’t waste your time rambling. They will get to their main points and put them in order right away. Write down what they say, then show them. Chances are, they’ve just written all their own topic sentences! When they go home, they can repeat the experience by speaking into a voice recorder on their phone.
Rewrite the Prompt: All too often, students write great papers that fail to meet an assignment’s objectives. Go back to the original prompt, and ask the student to rewrite the directions as a To-Do list in their own words. Then work with the student to see what they’ve missed or overemphasized. They can use that list to check their draft like a scavenger hunt.
Editor’s note: for the first installment in this series, click here. Read on for excellent stories from Lara, Jimmy, and Nne!
NNE NWANKWO Pursuing Political Science, Urban Affairs & Planning, and Creative Writing at Virginia Tech
As a Nigerian (from metropolitan Lagos), I grew up learning and understanding several languages at the same time. Nigeria is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, and more importantly, Lagos is the melting pot of the nation. As an Igbo girl, I learned Igbo growing up; and as a contemporary Nigerian, pidgin English is necessary to enjoyably engage in any conversation. As a Lagosian, Yoruba (no matter how little) is important to convincingly haggle with a hawker or to spit fire at a rude neighbor. Furthermore, as francophone nations of Benin, Cameron and Togo border Nigeria, French is the mandatory foreign language in schools. In fact, most contemporary Nigerian songs incorporate a mix of Nigerian pidgin, Yoruba and Igbo, and many times, other minority languages. Sometimes, the songs include French ad-libs also. Nigerian music is a direct representation of the average Nigerian’s speaking and writing patterns – a beautifully jumbled mesh of multiple languages.
Recently, the editorial staff of the Writing Lab Newsletter posted a call for an editor for this blog. We greatly appreciate the interest in this position and all the excellent applications. And we are delighted to announce that the position has been filled by two exceptionally qualified candidates:
Josh Ambrose, WLN Blog Editor. Josh is the Director of the Writing Center at McDaniel College where he also teaches multiple classes within the English department; he previously worked at the Writing Center at George Mason while completing his MFA in creative nonfiction. He has a proven interest in communicating across borders and looks forward to many great conversations ahead.
Steffen Guenzel,WLN Blog Associate Editor. Steffen joined the Center for Writing Excellence at The University of Central Florida in the summer of 2012. He received his doctorate in 20th century American Literature from the University of Alabama in 2006 after completing a Masters in secondary education (English/Russian/Education) at Leipzig University, Germany, and a year as a Fulbright exchange student. Currently, in his research he examines higher education developments in Germany and Europe in regard to the writing center movement and WAC-related initiatives with the idea to continue to build bridges and connect people.
Both have impressive academic credentials and share our vision of this blog being a space that allows writing center specialists to transcend borders and share, learn, collaborate, and meet each other. Josh and Steffen have a long list of projects to invite you, in Josh’s words, to “explore writing center-minded narratives/approaches [that reach] across borders.