I remember sitting in front of my laptop, searching, “How to be a good manager.” Not only was the title of “manager” itself contributing to my fear of the role, but self-doubts began to rise in my mind. Would I be able to live up to our staff members’ expectations? Would my lack of experience in such a position decrease the Writing Center’s professionalism? Despite the weeks of training I received, these thoughts lingered as I walked into my first day as the Student Manager. Yet now, as I sit reminiscing over the past year that I have spent working in this role, I can see only blessings and lessons to share.
First Year Seminar (CORE 101), First Year Writing, and AIS professors often include Writing Center appointments as a portion of their course. You might meet this with a feeling of dread or stress; life is hectic and having yet another required meeting or appointment can feel like an added weight. You may feel like you don’t “need” to go to the Writing Center or the idea of sharing your work with an unfamiliar face may feel daunting. So, how do you make the best of it?
I have an adage in my life: when one has an excuse to chat with Dr. Alison Gibson, one should not pass on the opportunity! Thankfully, I recently had the wonderful chance to interview Dr. Gibson, Director of the Writing Center, about her history with writing centers, her experiences expanding the one at Wheaton, and her vision moving forward.
From the school newspaper to club-run coffeehouses, Wheaton writers have options when it comes to sharing our work. But sometimes those options can be overwhelming, and we’re at a loss for where to submit. This post will explain the differences between the various campus publications, what kind of work they accept, and how to get published in them.
Before my first Writing Center consultation ever, I was quaking in my boots. After spending a week going over the best practices and principles for consultations, I felt as ready as I could theoretically. However, as soon as I received the inaugural email–an automated copy of my first client’s appointment confirmation–I promptly did what any healthy, self-regulating individual would do: I called my older sister to fix my problems. Thankfully, Lindsay was a fellow Writing Center Consultant and knew what to do to assuage my fears. Two years older than me, she was the Writing Center Manager that year and the holder of all wisdom in my eyes. I frantically picked up the phone, waiting for her wisdom to flow over me, for all my fears to be alleviated.
Three years later, it is my senior year, and I would like to pass on what I learned much as she did. My roommate and fellow senior Writing Center Consultant, Meghan Kwong, has helped me accrue a list of insights for newer consultants. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it to be followed in every case. Every client is unique, which is part of the beauty of working at the Writing Center–each session will bring someone and something different!
So, what are some things I’ve learned in my time at the Writing Center and how has that shaped the way I hold appointments?
Student teaching taught me to view the Writing Center as a place to interact with human beings, and not just fix papers.
Student teaching is, as they say, a once in a lifetime experience. A single semester of trying to teach a class that’s not your own—designing and teaching lessons for someone else’s students, grading homework and projects for someone else’s class, writing tests for students you will soon leave. It is the limbo between being a student and being a teacher: a time to make mistakes, a place to be corrected.
For me, student teaching was a lot of making mistakes and a lot of being corrected.
Writing? In the sciences? Strange, I know. Even at a liberal arts college like Wheaton, we often think of science and writing as belonging on opposite sides of the academic spectrum, as if there is a great distance between STEM and the humanities. However, as an English major and former Pre-Med student, I have seen firsthand that they are not quite that distinct. Writing isn’t just for the aspiring novelist or literary critic; it is a skill that can serve you in nearly every facet of your life.
This interview was recorded via Zoom on Monday, February 14th, between DePaul University’s writing tutor Ishika B. and Wheaton College’s Writing Consultant Eunice R. DePaul’s Writing Center Blog Editor, Miriam C., prepared and asked the bold questions. Wheaton’s Online Operations Coordinator, Maggie R., supervised the process. We hope you enjoy this conversation between peer writing tutors!
Many students can feel hesitant entering the Writing Center, but one graduate client, Caitlin McNamara, has just the advice for them.
Caitlin is a graduate student in the M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy program, and she has frequented the Writing Center regularly for two years. We interviewed her to see why she keeps coming back–and why she recommends that others do so too.
I have a confession to make. On day one of Writing Center training, I learned to avoid the metaphor of a “fix-it shop” when describing my job. But I still find myself saying things like “I help people fix things that don’t work in their papers” when I’m explaining the Writing Center to other people.