When Your Puzzle Is Missing Pieces

By Jessica Gach

I cannot start thinking about my 16-week journey in ENG 260 and the Writing Center sixteen weeks ago. That is not enough. I need to start when my journey really started and no, I am not talking about the fall of 1988, when I started kindergarten. This journey started on January 19, 2021.

When I started my Legal Research and Writing course, I had no idea what I was getting into. At this point I had only written a handful of papers since graduating high school 20 years prior, and this was LEGAL writing which I had no experience in or even any idea what it was. Throughout the semester, I learned how different legal writing was versus English 121 writing and I loved it. It was research based; it wasn’t based on creativity or even my own opinion. It was based on fact, on historical cases and current cases, and current events. I felt like I found a part of myself (a puzzle piece if you will) in this class that I didn’t know was missing.

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CLC Tutors Participate in Virtual Writing Center Conference

On February 25th and 26th, members of the CLC Writing Center staff took part in the Midwest Writing Centers Association (MWCA) 2021 virtual conference, “Creating Common Ground: Crosstalk and Community in the Writing Center.”

This conference was a reboot of the three-day event that had been scheduled to take place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, in March 2020.  CLC writing tutors actually travelled to Iowa and took part in pre-conference workshops before the decision was made by MWCA to cancel the full conference.

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All I Really Need to Know (about teaching) I Learned in the Writing Center

jenny-amanda(with apologies to Robert Fulghum)

In English 260 (Intro to Writing Center Theory and Practice), new tutors write a tutor philosophy at the end of the semester, expressing their ideas about tutoring and writing centers in any format they choose. Tutors have created everything from poems to skits to songs/raps to paintings, as well as a range of texts.  A few years ago, I decided it was time for me to tackle this task along with my tutors and here’s the latest version of my “tutor philosophy.”

Lesson #1. Writers need to be active participants in their own learning

My writing center work has taught me that Stephen North didn’t get the quote quite right when he said, “our job is to produce better writers, not better writing.”  The grammatical problem with this sentence is that the subject doing the “producing” is still the tutor and/or the writing center.  For a tutoring session to work and learning to happen, both tutor and writer have to be involved. In order to improve, a writer has to write and think and write some more.  A tutor can be involved in this process, but they cannot be the sole actor in it.  We all have had sessions like this—where the student pushes the paper across the table at us or demands, “Tell me what to write,” and the fundamental problem with those moments is that if one gives in, nothing changes.

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