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Everyday Writing Center

Everyday Writing Center: A Community of Practice

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 152
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  • Book Info
    Everyday Writing Center
    Book Description:

    In a landmark collaboration, five co-authors develop a theme of ordinary disruptions ("the everyday") as a source of provocative learning moments that can liberate both student writers and writing center staff. At the same time, the authors parlay Etienne Wenger's concept of "community of practice" into an ethos of a dynamic, learner-centered pedagogy that is especially well-suited to the peculiar teaching situation of the writing center. They push themselves and their field toward deeper, more significant research, more self-conscious teaching.

    eISBN: 978-0-87421-662-2
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Preface and Acknowledgments
    (pp. 1-4)
    (pp. 5-14)

    Walk through a morning with us—we’re out the door, heading to campus, strolling into the building, pulling out the office keys, and flipping on the lights. You know, the routine: turn on the computer, take off the coat, get to work. The voice mail message light blinks “Good Morning” in its own Morse code; the computer sings as it powers up, dinging one, two, twenty-five new email messages received. The clock continues its steady march toward the first class, and payroll must receive an accurate accounting of tutors’ hours by noon today if checks are to appear in their...

    (pp. 15-31)

    Walk with us now through another doorway, this time not into the physical space of the writing center, but into the mythical space of Trickster. Doorways represent, in fact, crossroads for Trickster figures, sites of contingency and leakage. Lewis Hyde writes, “All Tricksters like to hang around the doorway, that being one of the places where deep-change accidents occur” (124). We like to think of our writing centers as places where deep-change accidents occur, of the doorways to our writing centers as something other than the familiar gate-keeping devices; and we use this chapter to explore the application of the...

    (pp. 32-47)

    Think about how time works in your writing center. When does your staff—when do you—have too little time? Too much? If those questions are too abstract, try these: When do you think of time being wasted in the writing center? Why? How often do you check to see how many appointment slots are full and how many are empty? Do you allow students to schedule appointments any time they like, or do you, as one writing center we know, have a public policy that states: “If your paper is due in two hours or less, you cannot meet...

  5. 4 ORIGAMI, ANYONE? Tutors as Learners
    (pp. 48-71)

    A chapter on tutors as learners may, at this point, seem redundant, since we try throughout this book to highlight the ways in which we are all learning all the time as we engage in our work. Nevertheless, this chapter is designed to highlight the need for a mindfulness to the work of teaching in a writing center environment and to call for an attention to functional leadership that can result in rich communities of practice. While we may assume that writing centers need little defending as sites for learning on our campuses, promoting the kind of learning environment we...

  6. 5 STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT: Writers as Tutors, Tutors as Writers
    (pp. 72-86)

    In this chapter, we build from the impromptu, from the idea of saying yes to the gift. The writers who come to our centers and the tutors who work in them bring us everyday gifts of themselves and of their communities of practice, communities where they live outside of “normal” school time (and where they experience that “eternal ‘now,’” places where writing occurs in epochal time). Sitting in the office with the door closed, we don’t expect a knock, but we do expect the “ding” of the instant message program as Katie logs into the writing center computer and writes,...

  7. 6 EVERYDAY RACISM: Anti-Racism Work and Writing Center Practice
    (pp. 87-109)

    As we have drafted the chapters of this book, we have had the benefit of being in conversation not only with each other but also with the network of tutors and directors brought together and sustained by organizations like the International Writing Centers Association (IWCA), National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing (NCPTW), Summer Institute, and various regional writing center associations. Through those interactions, we have discovered that neither being a long time activist nor a well-intentioned and principled individual inoculates any of us or the spaces in which we work against racism. Everyone has a story, many stories, to...

    (pp. 110-132)

    Do you lead like Gandhi? Bill Clinton? Mother Theresa? JFK? In developing scholarly arguments about administration and leadership for our manuscript, we stumbled on a very important data collection instrument: the Famous Leader Test.¹ We five took the challenge, and our results are listed above. (It will be up to you, reader, to guess which one of us is the sexually-charged glad-hander and which is the self-sacrificing martyr.)

    While the leadership quiz did provide some comic relief during a particularly trying time of the semester, it wasn’t all in fun, as it did bring to light some very real differences...