Being a Writer

Alexis is a sophomore Education major. This semester, she’s taking English 251 Writing Center Theory and Practice in preparation to work as a writing consultant in the fall.

I went to my scheduled Writing Center session with a not-so-typical writing piece. I wanted to see how much help I could actually get on a children’s literature book evaluation. The consultant welcomed me warmly and seemed very interested in the assignment I brought to the session. Although I thought she would think it was a silly assignment, the amount of assistance she was able to offer me was fantastic!

I had two book evaluations; one was on a Yiddish folktale and the other was the tall tale of Paul Bunyan. She asked me to read aloud some of the sections on the evaluation sheet. As I read aloud, I felt a bit silly when I ran across my own errors, but the consultant simply smiled and reminded me that often times we do not catch our own mistakes until we make our writing collaborative. She was very helpful without being overbearing. She did not make any suggestions until I was done reading a section, and even then reminded me that they were simply suggestions. Throughout the session, she pointed out things that she found interesting and praised the amount of analysis done on these short stories.

After we finished an evaluation, the consultant reiterated a few key points and asked if I had any concerns with how I could go about making the corrections on my own. I asked for an example on how I could specifically elaborate on one of the story’s structure and she was more than willing to help me! Overall, the consultant did a great job at easing my anxiety from before the session began by showing interest in my assignment. She was never controlling of my writing, and allowed me to be in control of reading and writing on the paper for nearly the entire session. Reading aloud helped me self-correct errors and the consultant helped me brainstorm ways to strengthen other areas of the evaluations.

My session with the consultant can help other writers who are apprehensive about going to The Writing Center, as well as students who already visit The Writing Center for help. In addition to welcoming and friendly consultants, I believe The Writing Center is a great place for resources, additional perspectives on writing, and strengthening overall writing. By taking in an assignment that was not a simple 3 page summary paper (although they can help with those, too!), I feel as though I received a new experience that opened my eyes to even more ways The Writing Center could assist me!


Writing Center Observation

Alexis Higgs

ENG 251

4 February 2015

Writing Center Observation Blog

            Arriving more than a few minutes early to the appointment I planned to observe, I noticed how great The Fishbowl is for Writing Center Appointments. There is an open feel, inviting colors, and a comfortable, dedicated area to work. The consultant walked in with the student for their appointment about five minutes before it was scheduled to begin. The consultant and the student both welcomed me appreciatively when I asked to observe the session. She had worked with this writer many times, so they were already familiar with each other’s names and made friendly small talk for a few minutes before they began to look at what the writer brought to the session.

As the session began, the consultant asked the writer what it was that he had brought with him and he took out what he described as a “very rough draft” of a short essay. The paper was for an introductory psychology class; the main point of the assignment was to write down what you planned on writing a longer research paper about and why you chose the topic. If I were to ask any additional questions, one may have been to ask how formal this assignment was and how much support he needed to have for why he chose the topic. This was the perfect appointment to observe, because it may show a writer who is apprehensive about using The Writing Center that the consultants are there to help at any point during the writing process.

As the consultant spoke with the writer about the piece, it was on a table between the two of them, facing the writer as he spoke about what he had written. The consultant had good non-verbal communication skills, looked at the writer when he spoke, and restated/summed up some of what the writer said to assure him she was understanding. I would definitely consider her an active listener! The consultant let the writer do most of the talking and explaining at the beginning, so to establish a genuine interest in his piece and to respect the work he had already put into the assignment. As a writer in an appointment, I would appreciate the active listening and take advantage of a person willing to listen to me talk about my writing!

The consultant proceeded to set an agenda with the writer for the session. She asked the writer what it is that he wanted to get out of the session for this specific piece of writing. He voiced his concerns with certain reoccurring grammatical errors and making sure his paper “flowed.” The consultant had the writer read his paper aloud, and she quickly stated how he did a great job fixing what they “talked about last time!” She established rapport by asking him if he felt a strong connection to this topic and why. He had a personal connection to the topic, so he felt compelled to talk about it more, leading him to consider his own revisions. The consultant made the appointment both friendly and collaborative; she helped him realize he knew a lot more about his own writing than he thought.

I would say for this specific session, the consultant filled the role of a listening peer. She listened to his concerns and helped him come up with more information on his own that would contribute to the flow of his writing piece. The consultant then asked if there were any specific parts of the paper where he wanted to go over grammatical errors they had previously discussed. The consultant then recommended a resource that could help further explain how and why to use prepositional phrases, which I thought was great! The Writing Center may be able to offer insight to resources you may not have previously considered.

Finally, the consultant asked the writer how he felt about the piece now, and he felt positive about it. She praised the corrections he made on his own before coming to the session and told him how excited she was to see him write about something he is passionate about. The writer stated that he would “probably be back with another assignment within the next week or so.” I thought it was a great session to observe, it gave me a better understanding of what The Writing Center has to offer that I would enjoy sharing with others!