Saturday, October 15, 2011


This week was insane! Second official week in the Center. While throughout the first week, we 303ers were only partially booked, we were fully booked this week (at least on Monday when the Center was bangin').

On Monday, I first had an appointment with a Freshman English 101 student living on Campus. She didn't have anything yet because she had started her paper before, but had scrapped it before coming into the Center. This was the first time I'd worked with someone on just brainstorming and trying to crank out a thesis and an opening paragraph! This was really fun, as her topic was a Pixar movie.
We started by bouncing ideas back and forth about the film (and how much we loved it, how it affected us, etc.) and she really got some great ideas about where she'd like to head. She wanted to emphasize that while the film was fun, and kid-friendly, that it also had deeper meanings, such as the loss of innocence, change is hard, etc.
After awhile, I asked if she'd feel at all comfortable trying to crank out a thesis while I got some coffee. She said yes and went to work for a few minutes. When I came back, she had an almost-awesome thesis that she felt comfortable with!

Honestly, this was tremendously difficult, to not feed her ideas or direct words too much. They had to be her own. So often, I would just repeat what she had said to me about the movie, and then say something like "that would make a great body paragraph, and it would tie back to your thesis really well."
She left, I think, really knowing where to go with her essay. She said she felt comfortable about writing in general, but that she was just having some kind of block about this one assignment. Her visit was non-required, and she said she'd be back.

Sooo, she was extremely easy. Up next was a very, very late student who was required to come for his math class. A lot of math students have been coming in with these 2 paragraph pieces on a famous mathematician. I asked if he thought we'd be able to get his needs met in just fifteen minutes, and he eagerly said yes. I really had to reserve my judgement, knowing it was a required session, and we just got to work on his paper. Toward the end of his session, I teased that we would have been able to kick way more booty on his paper if we'd had 30 minutes. He said he knew and claimed he would make another non-required appointment and be on time. Meh.

A couple of days later, Kelsey and I actually talked about this. It's something that frustrates her a lot. It didn't frustrate me so much, as just make me feel like I knew he was probably IN the session less than some of the other writers that come in, and I felt like he wanted the piece of paper more than he wanted the help. That's fine I guess... we did actually get quite a bit done in that amount of time, and he seemed to like working with me.

Right after him, came an ESL student that I had described in class. She was the one who I had seen Kelsey working with, who liked to flee after her grammatical concerns were addressed. We talked about articles a lot, and I showed her some examples of when they are necessary and when they aren't. Once her paper was "clean" though, she was ready for take-off. Next time I work with this student, I'm going to try and address global concerns as we go along, instead of completely focusing on grammar at first. Since that was what she had asked of me, I felt obligated to do this first, but from now on, I'm going to try and incorporate some ninja moves so that we can revise globally WHILE her grammar needs are being addressed.

I'm not quite a ninja yet.

The Center shockingly pooped out a wee bit on Wednesday. Deep breaths! The chairs are freaking awesome (sidenote).

Made a couple of appointments to some students who walked in and for some reason wanted us to make the appointments rather than doing it online. Maybe it feels more official to come into the Center to make them? :)

The Center is also rockin Halloweeny style.

Only had one appointment on Wednesday, and she came in quite early so I just took her right then. Another required math paper, but she was really engaged and seemed happy to be at the Center. I could be reading things too much, but she also seemed maybe surprised at how friendly the Center itself is. I don't know why but I got this feeling from her that she expected something more painful.
She came in saying that she knew MLA but that she needed a refresher. When I pulled out the sheets, she said she actually didn't really know it that well at all and that this seemed new! Just to show that when a writer comes in, what they say can mean ANYTHING. "I'm comfortable with MLA" could mean "I've heard of MLA," and "I don't know MLA!" could mean "Sometimes I goof up in my in-text citations." It's best to really let the writer kind of guide the session sometimes in terms of what they do or don't know. I just stayed extremely open to her questions and when we got to the bottom of it, she really needed MLA help.
MLA does seem like one of those things that we SHOULD just know as college students, but often don't, and that's fine! That's why there are so many freaking awesome handbooks :)

This week has been insane, and I really need to regroup my self and my brain. I'm feeling overwhelmed but not in a terrible way.

Lots of love,
Stephanie <3

1 comment:

  1. What a fun (and full) week, Stephanie! You had a interesting mix of required visits (MATH!), ESL students, and E101. First up: required visits... So, yes--required visits can be tricky, and many people (including our super sweet Kelsey) find them to be frustrating. I was never required to visit the Writing Center as an undergrad, but I suppose if I had been, I probably would have rolled my eyes and sighed at the thought of yet another to-do item on my already bursting list. I think it's not unreasonable for students to enter our door skeptical and perhaps a bit meh about the prospect. BUT, I also don't think it's unreasonable for them to leave with a completely changed attitude about the Center (and I believe that our wicked-awesome Halloween decorations do most of that work!).

    Next: ESL student who grammar edits and then ditches. Well, you certainly have a solid game plan in place for your next encounter, and it ought to do the trick. One of the fun parts of the gig is getting the opportunity to try all kinds of strategies (and sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't).

    And: MLA student. You are totally right: whatever most students say can mean just about anything. It's pretty amazing really! It helps to take everything with a grain of salt. (Especially those required students who say that they really don't NEED to be at the Center--they're the ones who typically need us the most!) And, her reaction to the Center is quite typical. Many students seem to expect something awful, something sterile, something more critical. As we've said before, the first few seconds after a student enters the Center are absolutely critical in erasing those negative expectations.

    I hope next week brings more fun adventures!

    Oh, and YAY for lobster cat! Squeeeal!