2016, Archives, March 2016, The MFA Years

The Writing Center

Image: Bruce Guenter

I work at the Writing Center this semester, instead of teaching, which has been a quiet relief. I don’t feel the rush, almost manic sense of urgency like I did last semester, juggling teaching, my classes, and my writing.

I am a tutor at the Writing Center for 10 hours per week. Students make 30-minute or hour-long appointments or they just walk in. I meet with them one-on-one to help them at whatever point they are in the writing process, from organizational strategies to grammar and mechanics improvement on the sentence-by-sentence level.

I work with students from a variety of backgrounds. Some are undergraduates, graduates, or PhD candidates. I’ve read English 101 papers to history papers to civil engineering dissertations.

As the semester progresses, some students have set up regular appointments with me. I like this part of the job because you can build a relationship with the student, get to know their writing style, and track their progress.

Working one-on-one with students has made me feel like I’m meeting more of these students’ goals. It’s harder to feel whether or not you’re making an impact in a classroom filled with 25 people. I’m unsure of their progress or if they’re even making any with their comprehension and writing.

The sense of focus with these appointments is also nice because I’m detail-oriented. Last semester, I was very busy and felt all over the place sometimes. That was one critique my students gave me when teaching evaluations were handed back.

I am curious about next semester and how teaching will take form. My peers say the second and third years are more manageable. I know I’ll be taking less classes, but teaching has me feeling a little apprehensive. I’ll enjoy my time at the Writing Center for now.

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