By Dr. Bonnie Devet, College of Charleston
The coffee was hot; the doughnuts (a southern favorite from Krispy Kreme) were sweetly enticing, and fall temperatures had arrived, at last, to the LowCountry. It was time for the 5th Annual Tutors’ Retreat of the Palmetto State Writing Center Association (PSWCA). Hosted at The Citadel by Dr. Pat Hendrix, Assistant Director of the Academic Support Center, the October 22, 2016, retreat welcomed thirty-two attendees from seven different S.C. schools, including The Citadel, Charleston Southern University, Claflin University, the College of Charleston, Coastal Carolina University, Francis Marion, Furman University, and Winthrop University.
Scott Pleasant (S.C.’s representative to the Southeastern Writing Center Association–SWCA) opened the Fall 2016 Retreat by reminding attendees that the next SWCA conference is scheduled for February 16-18, 2017, in Oxford, Mississippi. He explained that S.C. directors are also invited to Converse College on April 1, 2017 for their annual PSWCA Directors’ Meeting to be hosted by the Converse College WC Director Emily Harbin.
Pleasant’s keynote “When They Go Low, We Go High” stressed that tutors and directors need to re-examine their assumptions about using certain tutoring techniques, such as higher-ordered concerns (hocs) over lower-ordered concerns (locs) or of abandoning instruction in the modes, especially at the paragraph level. Pleasant also provided the peer tutors with advice on how to help clients with paragraphs, like asking, “What type of paragraph is this?” and “Can you sum up the next paragraph?” Re-examining tutors’ approaches helps tutors serve student writers.
Then, sessions were conducted by both peer tutors and their directors, allowing the attendees to share ideas from across the state. Winthrop University’s interim WC Director Devon Ralston with her peer tutors Josh Mangle and John Moi discussed “How to Approach Victims of Abuse in the Writing Center.” Furman University’s director Jean Schwab and her consultants Kathleen Smith, Kate Baule, Ashlan Jackson, and Hristiyan Savov described what it feels like to be a consultant who uses the center’s services, reading a paper aloud to a fellow worker in “I’m Also a Client: A Round Table Discussion.” From the College of Charleston, two peer consultants Anthony Garruzzo and Alaina Rink discussed a vital tutoring technique “Analogies: Building a Bridge,” stressing that analogies help clients conceptualize a idea, such as a run-on sentence is like urban sprawl or ibid. is like saying “ditto.”
After the break, attendees learned from Christina Xan (Francis Marion) the pros and cons of on-line synchronous tutoring, while Claflin University consultants Amber Ravenell and Amori Washington with their Director Candace C. Kelly detailed the use of Writing Fellows in “Bridging the Gap Between the Writing Center and the Classroom: A Glimpse into the Claflin University WC Writing Fellows Model.”
The meeting room at the Citadel’s Altman Athletic Center is adorned with plagues honoring athletes who have had their jerseys retired and those who have gone on to play in the pros. Certainly, at the 2016 Tutors’ Retreat, everyone attending was also such stars, sharing ideas and encouraging fellowship among S.C.’s writing centers.