Into the semester we go . . .

It’s week four of the semester in the Writing Center, the week in which I usually exhale a sigh of relief. There are so many moving pieces in this large and busy place, so much to do to “get the show up and running,” to quote our wonderful program assistant Terry Maggio. By week four, the foundations have started to settle: the TA schedules are set, our many satellites and Online Writing Center are up and running, our first classes have come and gone. This is the time I allow myself to look around and ask where we are now, to see who or what needs a little extra attention. This is also the time when I feel extra proud of the work I’m privileged to do: along with Brad, Nancy, Terry, Emily and over 100 talented undergrad and graduate student instructors, I’m part of a unit whose mission is to support a strong culture of writing at UW-Madison. Together we help make this university a better place, one student writer at a time.

May your fall 2010 be filled with rewarding work, frequent moments of joy, and words on the page!

Melissa Tedrowe
Associate Director
The UW-Madison Writing Center

Welcome to a New Writing Center Year!

WAC workshop for writing-intensive TAs

WAC workshop for TAs teaching writing-intensive courses

From all of us in the UW-Madison Writing Center programs, welcome to a new academic year!  We’re off and running on an exciting new year.

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New Podcast Interviews with Neal Lerner

lerner_idea_writinglaboratory_coverWe’re delighted to share three new podcasts from our research and professional series, featuring Neal Lerner, who is the director of training in communication instruction for the program in writing and humanistic studies at MIT.  Neal is a long-time writing center director and tutor, a former co-editor of The Writing Center Journal, an award-winning scholar and researcher, and the author of The Idea of a Writing Laboratory (Southern Illinois University Press, 2009). These interviews were recorded during the March 2010 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Louisville, KY.

If you’re interested in writing center history, in the history of science education, in the history of educational reform, or in archival research, you’ll really enjoy hearing Neal Lerner talk about his research.

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Yes, we’re open!

Come on in!If you’ve braved the humidity early this past week and found a way through the dust balls of construction lining Park and University to Helen C White, you may have noticed that YES! The Writing Center IS open for the summer. Actually, we have already finished our first, and surprisingly busy, week of appointments. Personal statements, cover letters and resumes have been filling up our half hours, while new and returning ongoing dissertators and thesis writers have been establishing relationships with instructors they will be spending a quality hour with for the next eleven weeks (or more…).

After a week of swiveling around in my chair at the desk, I’ve already started to notice a couple of things that I really enjoy about working in the summer. First, escaping the humidity for a couple glorious hours of air conditioning has been nice  – as a reminder, our computer lab is open whenever we are open this summer if you need a cool and quiet place to get some work done.

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An Open Letter to the New Writing Fellows

It’s been busy for the Writing Fellows Program, and I’m pleased that our annual recruiting of new Fellows has come to a satisfying end.  We received 70 applications and at the end of last week—after a round of face-to-face interviews—our director, Emily Hall, sent congratulatory emails to the 28 undergraduates who will join the program in the fall.

The process of reading applications and interviewing candidates has been bittersweet for me, since I’m graduating and leaving the program this semester.  I’m very excited for the new Fellows and the adventures that await them, but disappointed that I won’t get to know them. Since I can’t resist offering a few last gems of Assistant Director didacticism, the letter that follows is meant to caution, but uplift.  I hope it’s useful to its intended audience. (more…)

Reaching Out Across the Campus & the Curriculum: A Brief Introduction To Writing Center Outreach

Hi everyone. In this post I wanted to give a brief overview of Outreach for instructors, students, and teachings assistants working in the Writing Center (WC) as well as others interested in Writing Center teaching. My hope is that my post will interest all these audiences, be it by helping an instructor learn more about us and how to contact us to arrange an outreach or to inspire TAs in our own writing center to become a member of our Outreach staff.

In a nutshell, Outreach plays a small, but important, role in Writing Center’s mission to help undergraduate and graduate students in all disciplines become more effective, more confident writers by visiting classes and organizations across campus. Below I’ll list the fundamental ideas about writing we discuss during an outreach visit (no matter the topic) and then give an overview of our different Outreach options. But, I first want to list a few of our “co-teaches” from this semester—quite a variety and the most exciting part of our work in my mind!

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Cultivating Potentials for Social Change Through Writing Center Talk

image002 This week I invite you to join in a discussion I’m facilitating through the Madison Area Writing Center Colloquium. On Tuesday, April 6th (5:30-7:00pm, Helen C. White Hall 6176, the University of Wisconsin-Madison), I’ll be facilitating a workshop titled “Cultivating Potentials for Social Change,” and throughout the week, I’ll be responding to and inviting readers to discuss these questions:
arrowPoint Why do you value writing center conferencing, and what do you see as exciting possibilities in this talk?
arrowPoint What might “social change” look like in a writing conference?
arrowPoint Have you, for example, through writing center conferencing, built a cross-racial relationship, come to better understand and redistribute power, come to think more critically or with commitment about issues of injustice and equity?

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The Future of Writing Centers

Each semester, instructors at the UW-Madison Writing Center sign up to participate in one of several “ongoing education” meetings on a topic they find interesting or pertinent to their professional development. As an extension of Katie’s ongoing education last semester on the history of writing centers, Melissa and I recently co-facilitated an ongoing education on (cue scary music) the future of writing centers (cue menacing laughter). The topic—and parenthetical remarks—were inspired by Terrance Riley’s (1994) “The Unpromising Future of Writing Centers,” which we read along with Christina Murphy’s (2006) “On Not ‘Bowling Alone’ in the Writing Center, or Why Peer Tutoring Is an Essential Community for Writers and for Higher Education.”

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