Writing Center Update: The Good, The Bad, and The Tricky

My IB teaching partner dropped a calendar page on my desk yesterday morning that reminded me–in its stark black-and-white boxes filled with Easter vacation, early release days, and special schedules–that we have very few weeks left in our semester. That somewhat panicked calendar also means that the Triton Writing Center, the fledgling dream I committed to back in September, has almost survived the school year! If you’ve been thinking about starting a writing center program at your school, this post is for you! Here is what I’ve learned and witnessed in my seven months of creating and managing a very simple student-staffed writing center.

The Good…

  • Every little bit helps. Though it has been difficult to schedule many tutoring appointments, even the briefest tutoring session can make a difference for a writer. Since my freshmen started working with peer tutors, their writing has become clearer and more confident. Though grammar is not meant to be the focus of a tutoring session, writers have appreciated the one-on-one conversations about grammar that happen during these sessions. As one freshman told me, “My tutor helped me to recognize when I was switching verb tenses, and now I’m a lot more conscious of it and can fix it on my own.”
  • To paraphrase Whitney Houston, “I believe the tutors are our future.” Want to find your future teachers? Check out peer tutors’ phenomenal reports. A few of the brave beta tutors in the program have become shining stars, giving up weeks of study halls and lunches to meet with individuals or classes. The reports they fill out in our tutor report Google form demonstrate patience, care, and their own lessons learned. 

Continue reading

Starting a Writing Center: A Risk, a Recipe, and an Invitation

Vulnerability–in life, in writing, in yoga class, you name it–is really tough for me, so you can imagine how moved I am when another teacher in this amazing community is willing to share a challenge in the classroom, a well-intentioned project gone slightly askew, or a new endeavor in its wobbly-legged infancy. Reading about those moments makes me feel a bit braver, so this month, I’ve decided to take a big risk, be a little more vulnerable, and tell you about what seems like a half-baked project right now but what I hope–with hard work and perhaps some of your help–will turn into something delicious. (Can you tell I’ve been watching a lot of The Great British Baking Show?)

Our school’s chapter of the National English Honor Society and I would like to start a student-staffed writing center.  Continue reading