Earlier this month, a couple Writing Center Advisors along with Dr. Mike Mattison traveled to Washington state for the National Conference on Peer Tutoring and Writing. In addition to learning more about writing center work, they presented their own research. But they learned much more from the experience and are forever grateful for the opportunity to travel out west:
Let me first say that Washington state is beautiful; the pictures do not do it justice! We flew in on Thursday morning and then explored the city of Tacoma in the evening. There were so many beautiful pieces of art scattered around the city! Some of my favorites were the glass bride and ceiling pieces.
Friday was the start of conference presentations. We all did amazing! Some of the
Advisors sessions that I saw besides ours were about helping autistic writers and using social media in the center. On Saturday, the keynote speaker gave her speech about inclusivity and letting everyone have a chance to tell their stories. There were more sessions again, and I got the chance to see one about different cultures in the center. All the information was really interesting, and I know that we are talking with Mike about some changes to make to the Wittenberg Writing Center to make it more inclusive to all students and advisors.
– Anna Aylor
NCPTW, as I discovered earlier this month, is made up of a supportive and energetic crowd. When I finished my presentation on email sessions, a group of fellow writing tutors came up to me to tell me they enjoyed it, and we talked about email sessions for a while. This enthusiastic support was delivered, it seemed, at the end of every presentation.
When I browsed the conference program for presentations to attend, a title caught my eye: “The Therapist’s Guide to Tutoring: Applying Therapeutic Approaches to the Writing Center.” As a psychology major who enjoys writing, I jump at the chance to blend my two passions, so I went to the presentation. It was lead by three graduate students obtaining their masters degrees in Family Therapy, and they discussed therapeutic strategies they’d used in the writing center. Their presentation didn’t aim to suggest that writing center sessions could act as therapy; rather, they highlighted elements of therapeutic techniques that could help writers improve. What I liked best was the idea of keeping writing center sessions solution-based. Advisors might ask questions such as, “What can you do next time you have this same problem?”
If a writer consistently doesn’t use commas, for example, writing center advisors can suggest that he or she read the paper out loud and look for natural pauses in the sentences instead of just pointing out all the places where a comma is needed. This allows writers more autonomy and the ability to leave their sessions with a plan for improvement. The presentation also brought up focusing on the positive. At the Wittenberg Writing Center, advisors often ask some variation of, “What do you want to work on with your paper?” Another peer tutor I met at the conference suggested asking first, “What do you like about your paper?” To me, it’s important to let writers know what they’re doing well, but it’s easy to forget to do so. The presentation inspired me to bring the supportive atmosphere of NCPTW to my work in the Wittenberg Writing Center.
– Libby Bauman
The few days I spend out west for NCPTW were filled with adventure and discovery. I was in awe of Mt. Rainier – a gleaming giant in the distance over the city of Tacoma and its gorgeous local sculptures and blown glass. The conference itself was also a multifaceted experience. It was a little intimidating to be surrounded by so many seasoned center directors, but I always felt welcomed. What stands out strongest to me (and that I think will remain strongest in my memory) is the large amount of pride I felt to be there as a part of Wittenberg’s Writing Center. My fellow advisors all faced presentations that provided their audiences with invaluable new perspectives. We had the privilege to stand and cheer for Professor Mattison, who was nationally recognized for his outstanding work as our director.
I am so grateful for the sense of community that I felt that weekend – a feeling that continues to resonate with every additional day I spend in the Writing Center.
– Madelyn DeVore