Monday, April 18, 2005

One Best Thing

One Best Thing

Since the close of the Pacific Northwest Writing Centers Conference held over the weekend, I’ve been trying to decide the one Best Thing about writing center work. I’m bumfuzzled. In so many areas of my life, I can decide the best thing. The best spouse — mine, of course. The best parents — again, mine. The best guinea pig —also mine! The best food — well, this is harder, but as long as I narrow to a genre (Thai, Italian, etc.), I can choose. Since I can’t pick one best thing about our work, I’m going to cheat. Every day, I’m going to pick a new Best Thing. And I invite you to do the same.

Today’s best thing — Western Washington University’s Writing Center Assistants. Two teams of three assistants presented at the weekend conference, and three gave closing remarks to the entire crowd. Wow! These guys are good. I remember when they first started, two of them 3-4 years ago. Then they were bundles of raw talent, but they didn’t know it. Suffering from low writing center scholar esteem, they really couldn’t have done what they did this weekend — not because they were incapable, but because they didn’t believe they were. Now these months and years later, these folks are bundles of sophisticated competence. They listen well, think thoroughly, adjust to on-the-spot challenges, and exude a confidence that just makes you know that the world is going to be okay if these folks get to run it. They are truly prepared for what Nancy Grimm calls The New Work Order.

As much as I may want to be proprietary — these are my tutors, mine — I can’t, darn it. They get to claim the fruits of their own learning. But I got to watch. And today that seems like a bigger and better Best Thing than I deserve.

Roberta Kjesrud
Western Washington University


At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Rebecca Fraser said...

Okay, I take the bait. Having just attended NEWCA's conference, today I think my favorite thing about writing center work is the comradery I feel with other wc folks. I am lucky enough to have a deep and rich group of friends from grad school who have ended up as WC directors, so it is fun to reconnect with them.

In addition, though, it is always good to recognize faces from last year's conference, and to make a new friend because we sat together in a session, or shared a panel, etc.

As I mentioned to a new friend just this morning, one of my favorite parts of a conference is the "conversating" that happens between and around sessions.

Lots of fun.

At 1:14 PM, Blogger Lisa said...

Hmmm. Do I really have to limit myself to one best thing? I don't think I can, especially since Roberta's and Rebecca's comments resonate so very strongly with me.

The opportunity to work with writing assistants is certainly something that I treasure about writing center work. I love it that our writing assistants are so committed to writing and to working on writing with others--but they remain very much themselves.

They're not graduate students on their way to a professional identity in rhetoric and writing. Though many are English majors, many major in other areas, from economics to math to history to foods and nutrition.

They're passionate about writing--but they're passionate in their terms (if this makes sense). I am constantly learning with and from them.

As soon as I write this, though, I think about how much I've enjoyed learning from and with colleagues and others in the Writing Center community.

What a rich world to inhabit!

Lisa Ede

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