Some Sessions Can be Short and Sweet

My session at the Writing Center was short and sweet. I asked for help looking at a final draft of a cover letter for a job I am applying for. I came in a couple minutes early and found my consultant reading some information on cover letters, which I found very comforting. I knew that my tutor might not know much about the genre of writing I was bringing her, so I was glad to see that she cared enough to do some research in order to help me. When I sat down she greeted me in a genuine manner and made sure that I was signed in. She then began to ask me questions about the cover letter. What was it for? Was I applying for a job? What did I want her to do to help me? She asked me to read my letter, and as I did, she took notes about things I was doing well and places that weren’t necessarily clear. When I was done reading I asked her advice about a couple of spots, and we made changes. Then she praised the things that I did well and recommended some changes I could make. Not only did she mention the spots that needed work, but she partnered with me to come to a correction. Together we working through all the problem places to tidy up my letter.

My session with my consultant made me feel much more confident about the work that I was doing. Not only did it make me feel better about writing a cover letter, but it reassured me that I was doing everything I could to obtain a position that I really wanted. This was the power of the writing center at its finest. It helped me to take a step that could change the rest of my life. I also really enjoyed the way my consultant used an equal dose of praise and suggestion in our session. It reminded me that while I have worked very hard on this letter and did a lot of things well, there are always areas where I can improve.

Since I’m a senior Education major, I know that I need to take what I have learned and use it in my future classroom. Students learn so much about how to write, but not always why it is important to write. It is important for me as a future teacher to give instruction on how to write professionally and explain skills that will help them to obtain future careers. Once they know how writing can affect their future lives, they will become better writers in the end. I also want to give my students the understanding that all writing can be improved. There is never a draft, whether it be the first or last, that is completely perfect. It was important for me to seek help from many different sources instead of seeing one and thinking my work was complete. I will encourage my students to continuously work and revise their writing in hopes that it will always become better.

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Remembering that Writing is an Art: Reflections on SWCA-KY 15

Last Friday our Bellarmine Writing Center was able to attend a conference with profIMG_2235(2)essionals and undergraduates from other university writing centers in Kentucky. The SWCA Writing Center Conference at the University of Kentucky was the first writing center conference I have ever attended. I have been to many conferences before, but never one that focused on the role of writing centers. The theme was Creativity, Collaboration, and Community, and each presenter touched on these aspects of a writing center in unique ways. As a staff, we gained valuable new insights on presentations from other writing centers on such topics as their success and downfalls of different social media projects or dealing with stress (for writers and consultants).

We had the chance to share our own experiences as well. We presented on one way we approach addressing misconceptions about academic writing at Bellarmine. Specifically, we introduced the Prezi presentation that we created for Freshman Focus classes. Analyzing our presentation and outreach helped us to look at our community here at Bellarmine and how we have embraced these themes of creativity, collaboration, and community without necessarily realizing it.

While it was extremely exciting and valuable to bounce ideas off of the other writing centers as we shared common and different experiences, my moment of real clarity came during the keynote speaker presentation. This “speaker” was not one individual but a collective panel of creative minds sharing their art and experiences with us. Everything from paintings of cakes, to poems, to free verse hip hop and acappella performances was displayed in the name of creativity, collaboration, and community.

But how does all of this relate to writing centers? It reminded me that a writing center is not a hospital. Writing assignments are not wounds. Students that come to see us are not patients, and we are not nurses or doctors. In the stress and complications of being a student, we often lose sight of what writing is and all of the beauty behind it. Whether it is a scientific report, persuasive research essay, or fictional narrative, our writing is a work of art. Each of us is an artist with something beautiful to create when we write, even for academia. As consultants, it is not our job to fix writing, but to uplift and help it be appreciated in the best way possible. Our collaboration with fellow students can help us all reflect and develop as writers, and we can build upon our campus community by helping appreciate and grow our creativity through our writing endeavors.

Our misconceptions of writing come from many places, but perhaps the most important one for a writing center to combat is the lack of realization that every single thing we write is a creative expression worth appreciating. We are all writers, and it would be a shame to never acknowledge that even the most mundane of assignments truly is a unique and beautiful thing we have created. A writing center exists to help improve writing, but it should also serve as a reminder that writing is a work of art and acknowledge the artists, our students.

Dara Ricketts

More photos from SWCA-KY 15

Being a Writer

Alexis
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!