Learning to Write in Post-Colonial Uganda: Reflections by a Multilingual Writer/Tutor/EAP Instructor

Esther Namubiru is an English and writing instructor and the 2019 Stearns language diversity faculty fellow at George Mason University. She enjoys learning about how to teach reading and writing while helping students develop their confidence in their own linguistic and cultural identities. Having been an international multilingual student from Uganda, and now working as a multilingual instructor, Namubiru is dedicated to the success of multilingual and international scholars.

 

Learning to Write in Post-Colonial Uganda: Reflections by a Multilingual Writer/Tutor/EAP Instructor

As an international student from post-colonial Uganda, I came to the United States of America already knowing and using English because it is a lingua-franca in my country. It is learned and used alongside other local languages in the region. I learned English in my classes and used it at home, so it was easy for me to write and speak in this language as I moved from one schooling system to another. However, it was not until I began traveling and learning in a different educational and cultural system that I realized how little I actually understood about this language and its relationship to writing, reading, my mother-tongue, my political and cultural history, my identity as a Ugandan international student in an American college, and a multilingual instructor of English for Academic Purposes. Through moving from one academic system to another and interacting with this language in writing and reading contexts, I realized the extent of my underlying assumptions and ideologies regarding what it means to be an English-language user and writer.

1891 map illustrating both the geography and colonial ideologies prevalent during the colonial scramble for Africa.

The writing center is bound to receive international students like me – students from post-colonial societies where English functions alongside other languages but often with fraught political, cultural, educational, linguistic, and historical dynamics. These dynamics impact the way writing and reading are understood and enacted by international students. Some writing center scholarship has begun to explore these dynamics, particularly culture and its influence on language norms, to understand how they impact students’ willingness to apply methods like peer-tutoring which are commonly used in Western academic contexts (Miller, 2002). For example, Miller noted that methods like peer-tutoring were met with skepticism when they were proposed at a new writing center program in a Kenyan university. Both the faculty and students challenged the method due to their perceptions of power in the teacher-student and student-student relationship and their understanding of who was considered a qualified student-writer and could conduct a strong peer-tutoring session (Miller 2002, p. 8). However, if the writing center is to succeed in working with international students from post-colonial contexts like Kenya and Uganda, writing tutors and administrators have to first understand these international students’ unique experiences with the English language, reading, and writing. How do these students perceive reading, writing, and language in their post-colonial context? In light of the colonial history in these contexts, how is English incorporated, perceived, and used in the local education system alongside the students’ own languages? In countries like Uganda where foreign education systems are being used in private and international schools (Ssentanda, 2013), how are students and families who can access these schools adjusting to the different pedagogies related to reading and writing in English?

In this essay, I try to answer some of these questions by sharing the way I learned to read, write, and speak English as a student in post-colonial Uganda and an international student in Kenya. I describe some of the ways I was taught English grammar, essay-writing, and feedback-processing within different post-colonial local and international contexts. I also describe how language itself has played a role in my identity-formation as an international student and my ability to interact with and appreciate my fellow peers and instructors. My experiences are not representative of other foreign students’ journeys (even those with a similar background). Instead, they are meant to start a conversation about the need to appreciate the unique factors and experiences that influence international students as they learn writing and reading in American educational systems. Continue reading “Learning to Write in Post-Colonial Uganda: Reflections by a Multilingual Writer/Tutor/EAP Instructor”

Writing Center Journals Editorial Round Table || IWCA Collaborative @ CCCC 2019, March 13, 4-5pm, Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center

Writing Center Journal Editorial Round Table

Join WLN Co-Editor, Lee Ann Glowzenski, & WLN Blog Editor, Brian Hotson, for an Editorial Round Table with the four major journals in the field of writing center studies: Writing Lab Newsletter, The Peer Review, Writing Centre Journal, and Praxis.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center
Schenley 5-6
4:00 – 5:00 pm

From the conference program:

“This is a roundtable that brings together representatives from the four major journals in the field of writing center studies. Each person will talk for a few minutes about their particular journal’s mission and philosophy and will share recommendations for publication. Attendees will have an opportunity to speak with journal representatives in a Q and A format in the second half of the roundtable. This is a great opportunity for prospective authors to learn about publishing trends in the field of writing center studies and to meet some of the editors who help to shape these academic conversations”

IWCA Collaborative @ CCCC 2019 schedule now available

2019 IWCA @ CCCC Collaborative

Event Details

March 13, 2019

Wyndham Pittsburgh University Center, 9:00am – 5:00pm

 

Download the schedule as a pdf:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1LinN2OmnKvQZifcPw-m35qx7lX7q2HaKLzT54qVUJJE/edit?usp=sharing

Contact IWCACollaborative2019@gmail.com with any questions.

 

Registration now open || 7th CWCA/ACCR conference >> Writing Centre Multiverse | Vancouver 2019

Writing Centre Multiverse | Vancouver 2019

Emily Carr University of Art & Design
May 30-31, 2019

> REGISTER TODAY! <

Keynote:
Deanna Reder, Simon Fraser University
Plenary:
Steve Marshall, Simon Fraser University

Conference Fees

Before April 13, 2019, 11:59PM (Early Bird)
Conference registration fee: $125
Conference registration fee for students: $75

After April 13, 2019
Conference registration fee: $150
Conference registration fee for students: $100

CfP and Conference || 2019 CWWTC/RMWCA Tutor Con >> February 15-16, 2019 Auraria Campus, Denver, CO

2019 CWWTC/RMWCA Tutor Con

February 15-16, 2019

Auraria Campus

Denver, CO

CFP ends 12/7/18.

The University of Colorado Denver, Metropolitan State University of Denver, and Community College of Denver are pleased to host the 2019 Tutor Con, a joint conference of the Colorado and Wyoming Writing Tutors Conference (CWWTC) and the Rocky Mountain Writing Centers Association (RMWCA).

The theme for the 2019 Tutor Con is “Interdisciplinarity, Diversity, and Collaboration.” The conference begins on February 15, 2019, with interactive workshops both for tutors/consultants and professionals/administrators. On February 16, 2019, Dr. Tobi Jacobi, Director of the Center for Community Literacy, Research and Outreach in the Department of English at Colorado State University, will deliver the keynote address before a full day of presentations and special sessions.

The deadline for registration is January 18, 2019. Learn more at either cwwtc.org or rmwca.org. Contact the conference chair at Justin.Bain@ucdenver.edu.

WLN Webinar #2 || Scholar’s Journey to Publication >> video and slides

Interested in publishing in the WLN? Miss the seminar?

The second the WLN webinar, Scholar’s Journey to Publication, hosted by Elizabeth Kleinfeld, Sohui Lee, and Julie Prebel, was attended by over 20 eager writers, both in the US and internationally.

This event covered strategies for drafting an article for WLN, including how to find time to write, how to understand the lit review process, and how to find or start a writing group.

If you couldn’t attend, a video recording is available, as are the slides from the presentation.

If you have any questions, please use the reply form below. Thank you!

 

CfP || CWCA/ACCR conference — The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver May 30-31, 2019

The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver May 30-31, 2019

For our 2019 conference, the Canadian Writing Centres Association/L’Association canadienne des centres de rédaction welcomes proposals on any writing-centre-related subject, but particularly invites proposals that explore how Writing Centres navigate, respond to, and negotiate the “multiverse” we all inhabit—in our spaces, our practices, and our research.

How, for example, do any of the following multis inform, enrich, and/or limit our work in the context of our own institutions? How do they intersect or overlap with practical, political, and/or personal concerns around training, pedagogy, administration, decolonization, or wellness? How do we as writing centre practitioners respond to, negotiate, or resist, any or all of these?

Continue reading “CfP || CWCA/ACCR conference — The Writing Centre Multiverse: Vancouver May 30-31, 2019”

New Associate Blog Editor – Stephanie Dreyfürst, Director, Academic Writing Center, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

Please welcome to the blog our new associate editor for Europe, Dr. Stephanie Dreyfürst – editor.

 

Dr. Stephanie Dreyfürst, Director, Academic Writing Center,
Goethe-Universität Frankfurt

I became interested in genre during my studies of German literature of the early Enlightenment period and have been doing research about historical genres as part of my job as director of the Writing Center at Frankfurt’s Goethe university.

Stephanie Dreyfürst

I began working in the writing center universe during my PhD in 2009 when I had the honour to open up the first German speaking writing center at this institution. In 2018, I founded the (now English speaking) Academic Writing Center at Frankfurt. Continue reading “New Associate Blog Editor – Stephanie Dreyfürst, Director, Academic Writing Center, Goethe-Universität Frankfurt”

Note from the editor || Rethinking academic writing again and again

Brian Hotson is the editor of Connecting Writing Centers Across Borders.

 

Welcome to a new semester and a new academic year.

I’ve been reflecting on “rethinking academic writing,” a subject that often comes up in conversation this time of year, with a new semester, new students, and old assignments looking for new life. A conversation with some colleagues on this jogged my memory of a Scientific American piece, The Scientific Paper is Obsolete, which caused a stir in this spring. This lead to more research (aka, the google rabbit hole): Death of Scientific Journals after 350 Years (FEMS Microbiology Letters, 2018); Revisiting: Why Hasn’t Scientific Publishing Been Disrupted Already? (Scholarly Kitchen, 2016); and Blogs v. Term Papers (NYTimes, 2012).

Continue reading “Note from the editor || Rethinking academic writing again and again”

Always in Beta: Incorporating Choice and Encouraging a Sense of Ownership by Revamping Tutor Training in a Secondary School Writing Center

Kate Hutton is the President of the Secondary School Writing Centers Association (formerly CAPTA) and co-director of the Herndon Writing Center at Herndon High School in Fairfax County, VA. Kate has presented on two IWCA-sponsored panels of Secondary School Writing Centers: “Writing Centers as Sites of Advocacy” (2016) and “Writing Center Revolutions in the Contact Zone” (2017). She is looking forward to presenting on her third IWCA-sponsored panel and leading the Writing Center SIG at NCTE 2018.

 

My mantra as co-director of the Herndon Writing Center (HWC) has long been “we’re always in beta.” Each year presents a unique challenge either within our center or our larger school community that we seek to address through the work of our center. Some years, we’ve sought to make our space more inviting for our school’s growing population of English Language Learners, while other years, we’ve worked to develop a community of writers and a culture of writing in our school.

This year’s challenge? How do we offer quality, ongoing tutor training and foster a sense of ownership in our center when we have an abundance of enthusiastic, dedicated tutors and a scarcity of time to formally come together to discuss tutoring best practices and make plans?

The Herndon Writing Center is a student-run, teacher-directed space where all students at our very large, very diverse suburban high school in Fairfax County, Virginia can work with a peer tutor on their writing. While there are many models of implementation for SSWCs, which include opening all day thanks to tutors who give up a study hall period or opening only before or after school, the HWC operates through a course called Advanced Composition, an advanced writing elective that was originally revised and repurposed by Amber Jensen of Edison High School to house writing centers in Fairfax County Public Schools. Students may apply to become tutors and enroll in Advanced Composition beginning in their Sophomore year, and once accepted, they may enroll in the course every year until they graduate.

HWC Tutors at CAPTA 2017

Continue reading “Always in Beta: Incorporating Choice and Encouraging a Sense of Ownership by Revamping Tutor Training in a Secondary School Writing Center”

Toward an Anti-Racist, Translingual Writing Center

Dr. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski is the Co-Curricular Programs Coordinator for Writing and Languages at Penn State University, University Park Campus. Her research interests span affective neuroscience, trauma studies, queer theory, and writing studies—really, she loves the intersections of critical theory and embodiment. Karen’s particularly interested in how Writing Centers can work to engage/combat/heal the lives writers live before, during, and after their writing process: can we heal trauma through writing? She’s an Associate Editor for WAC Clearinghouse, serves on Executive Board for the Mid-Atlantic Writing Center Association, and was recently appointed to co-lead the first-ever International Writing Center Association Digital Content Team. Residing in Pine Grove Mills, PA, with her wife and their badly-behaved cats (Tag and Samoa), Karen loves riding her bike and singing out of tune.

 

Before I Begin…
I’d like to own that much of this post is a narration of a person journey wherein my experience is what’s being centered—though the issues challenging me throughout the post are areas of scholarship (and, yes, life) that can and should be centered in their own right whenever possible. I am conscious that this blog post may feel like “Here’s a white person explaining their whiteness, and how they’re challenging themselves to change”—and maybe it is that, in a way—but my pedagogical and intentional reason for crafting my post this way is to show an evolution of thought, self-reflection, and to model the type of calling out that more white academics and administrators need to do with ourselves and with one another.

I’m writing with full acknowledgement that my whiteness, my privilege, and my context have shaped how I interpret, express, and address the information I’m sharing—and that it’s scholars of color, not white allies or accomplices, who have done the most powerful and productive work on pushing the fields of rhetoric, composition, and writing center studies towards anti-racism and equity. (And I’ve included endnote references throughout to share moments of connection with my musings here today and the scholarship that informs them, as a blog post isn’t perhaps the best genre to go full-on, MLA8 in-text on ya’ll.)

Dr. Karen-Elizabeth Moroski

I’m grateful to scholars like Vershawn Ashante Young,[i] Suresh Canagarajah,[ii] Asao Inoue,[iii] Aja Martinez,[iv] bell hooks,[v] and others who have given again and again the opportunity for white academics to learn from their work and to then act upon that learning. I write that sentence while wishing that the academy did not require scholars of color to write about and defend the dignity of their identities so that we could use their scholarship as teaching tools. That said, again, I want to express gratitude that it is work many scholars of color have done and continue doing as that work has challenged and engaged an entire field of study.

I am a work in progress; the writing center where I hang my hat is a work in progress; we hope to keep learning more and doing better, and we wish we were faster at that process.

Let’s Get To It, Then.
I’ve been thinking a lot about translingualism and writing centers. I’ve been wondering what I mean (or should mean) when I say translingual, and I’ve been wondering how the answers to this question shape how I write about it, how I ask my tutors to engage with it, and how our writing center can explain its investment in translingual pedagogy to the university community. I’m wondering, too, how my context as a white academic person shapes these questions and their answers. At Penn State, we’ve been working on a grant proposal to create a Scholar in Residence for Translingual Learning and Tutoring, seeking to unite our language and writing tutoring programs to more effectively serve translingual writers—and over time, our writing center administration’s definition of translingualism has shifted from solely focusing on global languages and global Englishes to a wider, more equitable lens that embraces domestic Englishes, too. Continue reading “Toward an Anti-Racist, Translingual Writing Center”

Transnational Collaborations and Writing Center Development at an English-Medium University in Lebanon

Anna S. Habib has an MFA in Creative Nonfiction (2006) and is near completing her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric from George Mason University. She served in several positions in the Mason Writing Center, from graduate tutor to Acting Director. Currently, she is the Associate Director of Composition, managing the undergraduate composition courses for multilingual students at both the George Mason University home campus and at the branch campus in Songdo, South Korea. She also coordinates and teaches the Graduate Writing across the Disciplines courses for INTO Mason, Mason’s pathway program for graduate and undergraduate international students.

WLN blog: Can you share some of your story?
Habib: I was born in Beirut during the civil war[1] to an American mother and a Lebanese father. At the age of four, when the war began to escalate, my parents, sister, and I fled the country on a small boat with other refugees who had found an illegal way out of the country. We made our way to the island of Cyprus where I grew up in a community of immigrant/refugees from Lebanon, Kuwait, Iraq, and the former Soviet Union. My father’s family opened a branch of their Lebanese school in Cyprus for this community of displaced students. The school followed the French Lycée curriculum, meaning all subjects were taught in French (a consequence of Lebanon’s post-colonial history), but the curriculum also included Arabic literature and language and English and Greek as required courses. When I turned 15, my family emigrated to the US to live with my mother’s parents. The shift from a tiny Mediterranean island surrounded by my native languages and my community of friends to a North Jersey high school in a wealthy community was extremely jarring.

I managed to find my way through high school, and then moved to Virginia to attend George Mason University as an undergraduate student. The campus felt a lot more comfortable than my high school environment—I was surrounded by other students from the Middle East and North African region and began to form friendships again with peers who also spoke Arabic as their first language or who had had similar international experiences.

View from University of Balamand

WLN blog: What was the role of writing centers in your academic experience in the US?
Habib:
I didn’t encounter the concept of a writing center until my undergraduate studies at Mason. In the Lebanese school/French lycée system, writing was not taught as a process. Students were often required to write decontextualized essays in class or at home that demonstrated their mastery of literary/philosophical concepts without any feedback or conversations on drafts. During my undergraduate studies at Mason, I visited the writing center once, but couldn’t appreciate the possibilities of the peer-feedback approach yet. It wasn’t until I was hired as a graduate research assistant for Terry Myers Zawacki and Chris Thaiss’ book, Engaged Writers, Dynamic Disciplines (2006), that I learned about the work of writing centers. I sat in the back hallway of the writing center and transcribed dozens of Terry’s and Chris’ interviews with faculty across the curriculum describing their own experiences as writers, and how those experiences informed their writing pedagogy. As I typed and typed for hours, I watched students and tutors interact in thoughtful conversations about writing projects. Through listening to faculty perspectives and observing tutors and students in action, I began to understand pretty clearly that the role of writing in the US academy was significantly different than its role in non-US academic contexts like the one I grew up in. Continue reading “Transnational Collaborations and Writing Center Development at an English-Medium University in Lebanon”

Working Towards the Trifecta: A WLN Special Issue on Wellness and Self-Care

Genie Giaimo, Ph.D., is the current Director of The Ohio State University Writing Center. Before her arrival to OSU, she was Assistant Professor of English and Director of the Writing Centers at Bristol Community College. Her research applies RAD-based methodologies to large-scale and often systemic issues within writing center administration, such as perceptions of the writing center in open access institutions, or the impact of ordinary and extraordinary stress on writing center workers. She has published articles in peer reviewed journals such as Language and Literature, Literature and Medicine, European Journal of Life Writing and Praxis: A Writing Center Journal. She is also the special editor of the WLN issue on Wellness and Self-Care. In the time that she doesn’t manage a staff of 52+ graduate and undergraduate consultants, she practices yoga and volunteers at Colony Cats—a volunteer-run organization dedicated to trap and release, as well as the treatment and adoption of stray and surrendered cats, in Columbus, OH. 

WLN blog: Why is this an important issue?
Giaimo: Writing Centers are not just spaces where writing occurs, or where education occurs; they are also spaces where emotionally charged exchanges happen and where burnout can occur among workers.

WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship

WLN blog: Who are the writing centre people writing on wellness and self-care?
Giaimo: Right now there are very few published pieces on this very broad topic. Degner, Wojciehowski, and Giroux’s piece “Opening Closed Doors: A Rationale For Creating a Safe Space for Tutors Struggling with Mental Health Concerns or Illness” (Praxis 2015) is perhaps one of the most cited; however, Mack and Hupp’s recent article (2017) on mindfulness in a community college writing center—also published in Praxis—is another that is unique in its own right. In the larger field of composition, Paula Mathieu studies writing activism and mindfulness and contemplative practice to bring about social justice. Research on the emotional aspects of tutoring and writing center labor have also been studied. There’s a great MA thesis by Christina Rowell on this topic, as well as Alison Perry’s “Training for Triggers: Helping Writing Center Consultants Navigate Emotional Sessions.” So, while it is an emergent field, in writing centers studies, there are certainly a lot of folks interested in the topic and conducting research on it. Also, the 2018 East Central Writing Center Association’s conference—hosted by The Ohio State University—focused on wellness, self-care and labor in writing center work.

WLN blog: Do you see an increased need self-care and wellness in students?
Giaimo: It’s hard to say, I think, anecdotally, that the recent Presidential election and the attendant uncertainty surrounding DACA, and other policies set in-place to protect vulnerable populations among us (such as persons of color, LGBTQ+, graduate students, among many many others) certainly has had an effect on the experiences and emotions of a number of students on campus. However, statistically speaking, Degner et al.’s piece noted the increase of mental health concerns, self-diagnosed or professionally diagnosed, among student populations entering college. So, yes, I think self-care and wellness is something that a number of universities are interested in fostering for their students and that student populations (as well as those outside universities) could benefit from being supported in this work. Continue reading “Working Towards the Trifecta: A WLN Special Issue on Wellness and Self-Care”

CfP || WLN Special Issue: Wellness and Self-Care in Writing Center Work, with Dr. Genie N. Giaimo

Read Dr. Giaimo’s post on this special issue.

WLN: A Journal of Writing Center Scholarship

In coordination with the 2018 ECWCA conference theme on occupational hazards: writing center labor, self-care and reflection, we welcome submissions that explore the multi-faceted ways in which writing center labor demands, deserves and enacts wellness and self-care practices. To date, research on tutor well-being—a perennial concern for writing center administrators—is relatively under-explored in writing center scholarship. While mindfulness in the writing center has been the topic of a number of presentations at regional and national writing center conferences (and a popular discussion thread on a recent Wcenter listserv email), there is relatively little published material on this topic (Mack and Hupp; Dueck). Similarly, Degner et al.’s 2015 article “Opening Closed Doors: A Rationale For Creating a Safe Space for Tutors Struggling with Mental Health Concerns or Illness” calls for more explicit training on self-care and tutor mental health after uncovering that 65% of survey respondents identified the lack of discussion on these subjects in their writing centers’ trainings.

Wellness and self-care, then, while popular topics both in writing center academic conversations, as well as in popular culture, are poised to become a mainstay of tutor preparation and training. Similarly, this topic is becoming monetized through for-pay productivity workshops and trainings. What, then, does the academic writing center community have to say on these subjects? How do we currently integrate wellness and self-care into our practices? How might we want to incorporate these practices into our centers? And what does our desire to do so say about the labor that we preform? We encourage contributors to consider, as starting points, current and local iterations of wellness and self-care trainings in writing centers, as well as potential best practices for developing these kinds of programming for our tutors, our administrators, and our clients. Continue reading “CfP || WLN Special Issue: Wellness and Self-Care in Writing Center Work, with Dr. Genie N. Giaimo”

A Year and a Half Later: A Humble Reflection || St. Cloud State University’s Writing Center Administration Certificate Program

This post is a followup from Carol’s piece, Two Provosts Later: Establishing a Writing Center Administration Graduate Certificate Program, from February 2017, with reflections on the program from students. Carol Mohrbacher is a Professor of English and former Writing Center Director.

 

Carol Mohrbacher

In spring 2017, St. Cloud State University’s Writing Center Administration certificate program offered its first two courses, “Writing Center Theory and Practice” and “Issues in Writing Center Administration.” Students became bonded early on. Friendships and collaborations for research projects and conference presentations grew during that semester and continued into summer term with the final two classes, “Staffing and Training” and “Case Studies in Writing Center Administration.” Because the program is delivered entirely online, I was surprised at the strength of the community, which was much more than I’d hoped for during the 2 ½ years it took me to slog through the morass of bureaucratic speed bumps on the way to program approval. As I said in the earlier article/interview, I’d had to secure approvals from 14 different individuals and committees along the way. This was an intense, real-world lesson in discovering audience expectations, a topic we discuss throughout the WCA program in all of the courses.

The most significant challenge in designing the WCA program has been providing sources, instruction, and assignments that allow students to personalize a learning experience most beneficial to each one of them. Last year’s students represented a range of experience from zero to nine years in WC administration. Some were new MA students; some were PhD students; some were professionals in the field. They represented public and private institutions at the high school, 2-year, and 4-year college levels. One student had developed an independent writing center and had tax-exempt status and a board of directors in place. One, a high school teacher, had never worked in a writing center before and knew just a little about them, but hoped to help build one at her school. This year, there are more graduate students and fewer professionals; however, we have, for the first time, an administrator from a private high school boys’ preparatory school and also an assistant director from a writing center in China. Caswell, McKinney, and Jackson note the development and variety of non-standard writing centers in their book, The Working Lives of New Writing Center Directors, a longitudinal study of nine new writing center directors.

That our participants include writing center directors in a charter school and in a European boarding school is emblematic of the times. Writing centers have been sprouting up in secondary schools and in non-US settings at a growing rate. As this happens, we think we’ll see that more alternatives to the US university model will emerge as different though effective, ways to do writing center work. (199)       

To reflect this diversity in the WCA certificate program, course materials cover a variety of common contexts and issues pertaining to writing center administration, like navigating institutional relationships, researching the writing center, creating assessment activities and reports, grant writing, hiring, training, and other shorter units. Assignments are flexible enough so students can create individualized documents that might be included in an application portfolio or provide a model for their home institution or for the type of writing center setting they are most interested in.

Now that I am in my 2nd year, I view at the program with a perspective emerging out of a year and a half’s experience. I’ve learned that cohorts differ from year to year. The first year’s class was energetic and immediately collaborative; this year’s cohort is quieter and less bonded than the first—but they are similar in their creative energy and commitment to writing center administration studies. Continue reading “A Year and a Half Later: A Humble Reflection || St. Cloud State University’s Writing Center Administration Certificate Program”

“Did I Cross that Line Yet?”: Moonlighting Outside the Writing Center

Vanessa Flora-Nakoski is the Writing Center Director & a Lecturer in English at McDaniel College.

When people ask me what I do for a living, I don’t know what to tell them. Do I say that I’m a professor? A tutor? An administrator? A writer? A scholar? Yes, but everyone in our profession knows that each of these labels is insufficient. These days, I typically answer that I’m the Director of the Writing Center.

Secretly, I remind myself, “I am an entrepreneur.”

Of the possible labels, it is the only one broad enough to connect all the aspects of my professional life, although not one that anyone in any of my graduate programs understood. I learned quickly enough that to reveal to the various fund managers in my Strategic Management classes that I was a tutor—or even at one time, a soapmaker—was to inspire incredulous looks. I learned equally quickly how dangerous it might be to seem too business-minded among my faculty colleagues.

This made me wonder why so few people outside our field readily accept the label of entrepreneur as a descriptor for writing center work. It occurs to me that it may be because so many of us, through institutional mandate or personal preference, who draw a firm line between the work we do as writing center professionals within institutions and the work we may do privately as professional tutors.

Certainly, many colleges and universities have strict policies regarding work performed in the field but outside the institution. Even when these policies are absent, it can still be awkward to discuss private tutoring among professional colleagues. When I was first approached about the possibility of writing about this issue, I had a moment of panic where I thought, “Am I writing this as a member of the college or am I writing this as sole proprietor of my company?”

Both. Continue reading ““Did I Cross that Line Yet?”: Moonlighting Outside the Writing Center”

Boiling Down the Essentials: Transferring Tutoring Skills Beyond the Writing Center

Mike Jacoby is the Tutor and Mentor Coordinator for the Athletics Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Previously, Mike worked at the Northern Michigan University Writing Center for many years.

 

When I graduated with my master’s in writing in 2015, I was fortunate to find a position coordinating a tutoring program for student-athletes at the University of Wisconsin. I had just completed my second year of managing a writing center as its associate director, and writing center administration was work I found both fulfilling

Fetzer Center for Student-Athlete Excellence

and challenging. My writing center experiences anchored me, but the move into student-athlete support as a tutor coordinator brought me into unfamiliar waters: I hadn’t worked with student-athletes before, and I didn’t (and still don’t) personally care about sports. In addition to being out of my element in that way, I also waded into another unknown dimension: the realm of multi-subject tutoring.

The Athletics Tutoring Program is funded and housed completely through the UW Athletic Department (we have an Office of Academic Services within the athletic department). We exist apart from campus and from any other department, which has more pros than cons. We’re funded through the (well-off) Athletic Department and thus aren’t pressed for resources in ways we might otherwise be. Our program employs over eighty tutors to support over five hundred student-athletes per semester in plethora of courses (we have usually over eight hundred student-athletes enrolled but not all student-athletes make use of our program). Continue reading “Boiling Down the Essentials: Transferring Tutoring Skills Beyond the Writing Center”

加入写作中心在中国起步的浪潮 (宋凌珊) (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)

宋凌珊是密西西比学院写作中心的副主任。她也教授写作课与学生辅导的训练课程。凌珊的研究领域包括写作中心理论与实践、ESL辅导、文化研究与国际合作。她目前的研究项目致力于写作中心在中国的推广与建立。凌珊还同时兼任美国东南部写作中心协会的外事协调员、写作中心基督徒协会的TESOL代表、密西西比写作中心协会秘书、以及2018中国高校英文写作中心国际学术研讨会策划委员会成员。

[Joining the Momentum of Writing Center Establishment in China]

写作中心在美国的学术界已经有长远的历史并具有规模,然而在中国情况却有所不同。在中国的高校中,“写作中心”是过去十余年才开始引进的概念。在过去12年,从2006-2017年,有一小撮中国高校走在了建立写作中心的前沿,开始提供针对于英文写作的辅导。2017年6月9-11日,位于中国苏州的一所中英合办大学­­—西安交通利物浦大学举办了有史以来第一次的中国写作中心会议,这对于在中国的写作中心具有里程碑意义。

宋凌珊

写作中心在中国的建立进程是令人振奋的,可是迄今为止还没有学术研究专门针对中国现有的写作中心,也未开始探讨这些写作中心能够建立起来的关键促成因素。换言之,这些写作中心是如何开始的?关键因素有哪些?2017年9月-11月我开始了一项初始研究,致力于研究在中国内地现有的写作中心:这些写作中心存在哪些共性?考虑了哪些国情和本土因素?这些共性是否可以为将来其他写作中心的建立提供可参照的模型?

尽管每个写作中心有自己的特色,但我发现过去十年中美高校之间合作的蓬勃开展给写作中心在中国的建立提供了历史性的契机。“全球化”、“使中国高等教育与世界接轨”的概念深入人心,敦促中国高校与海外的大学开展两种形式的合作:1)与海外的大学合作成立交换学生项目;2)鼓励教师出国到合作院校访学。

例如,中国第一个写作中心(成立于2006年)就是得益于西安外国语大学与位于美国俄亥俄州的鲍林格林州立大学之间一个长期合作的交换项目。在西安外国语大学教授吴丹的一篇文章中,她介绍了中国第一所写作中心的建立并且强调说“西安外国语大学写作中心是借鉴了鲍林格林州立大学写作中心的模型,但是拥有自身的特色”(139)。另外,根据吴丹教授的研究,“这种模型【借鉴美国写作中心但是针对中国国情和地方特色作出调整】已经开始在全国的范围内被采纳。”北京师范大学珠海分校写作中心也借鉴了同样的模型。这个于2016年9月建立的写作中心就借鉴了几所海外大学的经验,包括波斯顿学院。 Continue reading “加入写作中心在中国起步的浪潮 (宋凌珊) (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)”

Joining the Momentum of Writing Center Establishment in China (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)

Lingshan Song is the Assistant Director of the Writing Center at Mississippi College (MC). She also teaches freshmen composition courses and the tutor training course at MC. Her research interests include writing center theory and practice, ESL tutoring, cultural studies, and international collaboration. Her ongoing research projects involve advocating for writing centers in China and supporting writing center establishment there. Lingshan also serves as Outreach Coordinator on the Southeastern Writing Center Association (SWCA) board, TESOL Representative for the Association of Christians in Writing Centers (ACWC), Secretary of Mississippi Writing Centers Association, and Member for the International Symposium of English Writing Center in Chinese Universities planning committee.

[加入写作中心在中国起步的浪潮]

While writing centers have a long history in American academia and are well established in the U.S., in the past decade, writing centers have just started revealing their values to higher education institutions in China. In the past twelve years, from 2006-2017, a batch of Chinese higher institutions have started writing centers to provide tutoring for English writing. Another important step in writing center development was the inaugural conference of Writing Center Association of China, held from June 9-11, 2017 in the Sino-British university, Xi’an Jiaotong Liverpool University, located in Suzhou, China.

Lingshan Song

With the exciting progress of building writing centers in China, there is yet to be a study about existing writing centers in China and their contributing elements commonly observed. In other words, how did these writing centers get started? What elements are essential to their establishment? I conducted preliminary research from September to November 2017, aiming to investigate existing writing centers in mainland China and discover commonalities among them and explore possible models for future writing center establishments in China, considering local adaptations.

Despite local adaptations, I found that as international partnerships prosper between U.S. universities and Chinese universities in the past decade, it has created a historical timing for writing center establishment in China. The “globalization” concept, bringing China’s education more in line with international practice, urges Chinese higher institutions to form international partnerships with oversea universities in two forms: 1) by developing exchange student programs with partner universities; 2) sending faculty to partner universities as visiting scholars. Continue reading “Joining the Momentum of Writing Center Establishment in China (Part 2 of 5, Writing Centers in China)”

Call for proposals || 2018 Canadian Writing Centres Association Call for Proposals >> due Monday, January 15, 2018

The CWCA/ACCR conference committee invites you to submit proposals for our 2018 conference.

 

Submit your proposals by 11:59pm (EST), Monday, January 15, 2018.
Please note that this is a firm deadline, and will not be extended.

All submissions are to be made online.


Conference details:

Where: University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon

When: May 24-25, 2018

Keynote: Dr. Sheelah McLean

Plenary: Jack Saddleback

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

In Canada, a recent focus on reconciliation and Indigenization are revitalizing conversations around anti-oppression pedagogy (Kumashiro, 2000), a series of approaches which focus on how traditional educational systems and practices reinforce existing hierarchies and contribute to the disenfranchisement of marginalized students. Nationally and internationally, post-secondary institutions are seeing students affected by the rising tide of extremist right-wing politics and dubious news sources, calling for renewed attention to social justice and literacy-building.

An International Writing Centres Association (IWCA) position statement states that writing centres are particularly well positioned to “uphold students’ rights, as we work in the everyday-ness of literacy” (as cited in Godbee & Olson, 2014). As Nancy Grimm (2009) said in her IWCA keynote, “Although some might claim that the work of a writing center is ‘just’ to teach writing, the teaching of writing is never a neutral endeavor; it is never devoid of political motivations or outcomes.”

At the 2018 CWCA conference, we invite you to join us to exchange knowledge, share challenges, and ask questions about the ways our teaching and tutoring can and should engage in anti-oppressive educational practices.

Keynote speaker Dr. Sheelah McLean — a founder of the Idle No More movement and recipient of the Carol Gellar Human Rights Award (2013) — will discuss anti-racist, anti-oppressive educational practices. Closing plenary speaker Jack Saddleback will discuss the topic of resilience, drawing on his personal experiences with mental health activism, student politics, and gender and sexual diversity. Continue reading “Call for proposals || 2018 Canadian Writing Centres Association Call for Proposals >> due Monday, January 15, 2018”