CfP || IWCA/NCPTW Ideas Exchange >> Deadline: Monday, 8 July, 2019

IWCA/NCPTW Ideas Exchange – Call for Proposals

We are pleased to announce the fourth annual Ideas Exchange forum at the 2019 International Writing Centers Association/National Conference on Peer Tutors of Writing (IWCA/NCPTW) Joint Conference in Columbus, Ohio.

This forum is designed to showcase innovative writing center strategies and initiatives and invite conversation about what has “worked” in various writing center contexts. Strategies or initiatives may focus on any aspect of writing center work–tutoring, administration, training, outreach, advocacy, activism, etc. Participants in the Ideas Exchange forum will be listed on the conference program. In addition, Ideas Exchange presenters may also participate in the “Works in Progress” session and have one additional speaking role on the conference program.

The Ideas Exchange forum will follow a resource/orientation fair setup. Each presenter will have their own table space and conference attendees will float through forum. Presenters will determine the best mode* (i.e. poster, PowerPoint, Prezi, short activity) for sharing their writing center strategy or initiative. With this format, presenters should be prepared to repeat their 3-minute or so strategies/initiative and to engage attendees in conversation.

Presenters are required to provide a handout, pamphlet, or link so that exchange presenters and conference attendees leave with a collection of strategies to try in their own centers.

150-200 word proposals should include a working title, a brief overview of the strategy or initiative the presenter(s) will focus on, the mode of delivery that will best communicate the strategy, and at least three keywords that will help the session chair organize the tables/participants thematically.

Please complete this form (https://forms.gle/9CgL1iX2zNLdxN3ZA) to submit your proposal for the 2019 IWCA/NCPTW Ideas Exchange in Columbus, OH. Proposal decisions and presentation invitations will go out by the end of July.

Deadline: Monday, 8 July, 2019

Evaluation of proposals: relevance of strategy, proposed audience, connection to conference theme

Acceptance Notifications: by the end of July (anticipated)

Please contact the IE Chair, Kat Bell, Ph.D. (kbell@coloradocollege.edu), with any questions.

*Please note that presenters will be required to provide their own computer/technology.

New Resource for Writing Centers || Writing Lab Newsletter’s Digital Edited Collection

Karen Gabrielle Johnson is an Associate Professor and Director of the Writing Studio at Shippensburg University. Ted Roggenbuck is an Associate Professor and Director of the Writing and Literacy Engagement Studio at Bloomsburg University.

 

WLN Blog: This new WLN resource will be very helpful. What is the progenitor of the project?

Karen: The Digital Edited Collection (DEC) developed over a two-year span in response to our call for proposals for a WLN special issue on tutor education. This project began in the spring of 2016 when I responded to an email sent by Mickey Harris through the WCenter listserv. In her email, Mickey invited colleagues to contact her if they were interested in serving as guest editors for a WLN special issue. I conversed electronically with Mickey about the logistics of serving as a guest editor for a special issue on tutor education, noting Mickey’s prediction that this topic might generate a great number of responses that could possibly result in a monograph.

Excited about a tutor education special issue and a possible follow-up project, I contacted Ted Roggenbuck to join me. Ted and I had previously collaborated on several projects, conference presentations, and joint tutor education seminars, so I was hoping he’d agree to join me on this particular project. I’m so glad he did. My natural inclination leans toward collaborative professional projects rather than solitary ventures, and Ted’s energy, fresh perspectives, and organizational skills made the work enjoyable and invigorating.

Writing Lab Newsletter co-editors, Karen and Tod

 

Mickey was correct; we received an overwhelming number of viable proposals for special issue articles, making the selections for one special issue incredibly difficult. We began to consider two special issues and entertained the idea of a monograph. Yet, when we began to research the possibility of publishing a WLN monograph that laid the groundwork for future monographs to follow, we encountered a number of challenges that included high printing costs and complications in disseminating the monograph. These roadblocks seemed to impede sharing of the exceptional scholarship we found in the proposals we received. But because we believed the authors had such good research, praxis, and resources to share, we felt compelled to identify alternative forms of publication. Through many conversations, informed by our belief that scholarship should be free and available to the public, we decided to pursue an open-access publication that is digitally available and could take advantage of digital affordances. After identifying how such a collection of research could be published, we contacted Richard Hay who graciously offered to support us as we worked to create an online, multimodal publication that offered numerous possibilities for engaging readers, sharing resources, and incorporating visual and audible elements on the WLN website. As we worked with authors, we collectively imagined how to transform largely text-based chapters into multimodal ones. During this process when we realized our technical skills were not sufficient to match our idealized vision for a multimodal publication, we contacted Crystal Conzo, who agreed to become the Design Editor and make our ideas become reality. Continue reading

CfP || Join the International Researcher’s Consortium workshop at CCCC 2020

For the twelfth year, the International Researcher’s Consortium will host a workshop at the annual College Conference on Composition and Communication (CCCC) conference located in the U.S. We are inviting brief proposals for up to twenty-four researcher-participant roles focused on international or transnational research about writing in higher education from all over the world (see details below about what this might include). By research, we mean a project with a focused research question, an identified methodology (qualitative, quantitative, ethnographic, historical, discourse analysis, corpus, etc), and the collection of data in some form. This research can be at any stage and does not need to be final. Your role in the workshop would be to provide a draft text about the research by the end of December 2019, to read the other workshop facilitators’ texts before attending the CCCC conference, and to participate in the day-long workshop by leading a discussion about your project and participating in discussions of a subset of others’ projects.
 
We know that researchers around the world are interested in finding sites for serious cross-national conversation that includes multiple research traditions. This workshop is designed to make space available for extended time to read, process, think through, and discuss in detail each other’s work at the College Conference on Composition and Communication, March 25-28, 2020, in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. See the overall conference Call for Proposals theme here. Though your research is not required to connect to conference themes, this year’s theme is about inclusivity, tradition, innovation and the commonplace. We see this kind of workshop as a form of “inclusivity,” a means of articulating the commonplace to become more aware. Making research about writing connect across cultures, higher education systems and languages is an activity that pushes the boundaries of tradition and enables inclusivity. It leads to the creation of many different kinds of texts and informs our future scholarly and praxis-based efforts toward inclusivity.

Continue reading

Building international partnerships opportunities || IWCA International Partnership Initiative Committee

Dear Colleagues,

The International Writing Centers Association invites you to register for an international partner! At this point, and as a first step, we (The IWCA International Partnership Initiative Committee) want to partner writing centers in the United States with international writing centers as part of IWCA’s attempt to build international partnerships.

The partnerships can take various forms depending on each other’s needs and capabilities, including but not limited to mentorship, hosting visiting scholars from the partner center, and explore collaborative research opportunities, etc. In addition, writing centers outside U.S. work in contexts very different from ours; through the potential partnerships, we can learn a lot from them about their writing center practice and their innovative approaches to gaining/promoting buy-in in their institutions. Therefore, we anticipate the partnerships to be mutually beneficial!

So, if you’re interested in getting involved in this initiative, please register through this Interest Form: https://forms.gle/xY6BVswsd65bUtUk7

Thank you,
IWCA International Partnership Initiative Committee
Joseph Cheatle
Georganne Nordstrom
Lingshan Song

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.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“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