December 12, 2005

Writing Consultancy Class

I thought about writing this blog after our class period on December 8th, last Thursday. I guess I just really enjoyed that class period very much. I think it is very good that as a class we can discuss pretty much whatever we want. I must say that as a student, that is very motivating. This is going off of the blog we read in class about people not utilizing the time provided for in class consultations. I think that was pretty much due to lack of motivation for everyone in the class. I don’t think it was that surprising that this happened.

I am willing to bet that if we had done our consulting sessions on Thursday, we would have seen much of the same unwillingness to work as had happened previously. Thus I believe it was a very good thing that we had the discussion that we did. Instead of getting nowhere, I believe we accomplished a great deal, not only personally, but as a group. I think it says a lot that we were able to engage in such a thoughtful discussion instead of doing the prescribed activity. It is not very often that this happens, in fact I can’t remember it happening in my career at the U of M. Usually things are so strict in my classes.

Thanks for letting us get digress into the discussion that we had. It was really a good experience.

Posted by at 9:29 PM

Blogtastic!

Before this course, I have never regarded the world of blogging. I always thought it was so stupid. Seriously. When I was younger and the internet was new to me, I used to post on message boards and I had quite a bit of fun doing it. I was posting on pretty pointless sites though, just arguing over dumb ten year old stuff with people. When I heard of blogging I was like 'what the hell is the difference between a blog and a message board.' I never thought it was worth investigating though. I must give thanks to this class for introducing me to the world of blogs though. I know I have been a pretty lame participant in this activity, but I do value it. The thing is, since we started this blog, I have started to investigate other blogs and have been quite active in posting on some of them. For the most part the ones I post on are poliltical in nature. I find it fun to blast people that post on these blogs and list themselves as political analysts and whatnot. They think they are so smart, but really they aren't. Just thought I would let you know. I am always thinking about the blogs, I just can't bring myself to do homework most of the time :(

Blogs really are a great way to have a discussion, assuming that people are actively participating in them. I liked our little discussion we had in class the other day about the blogs. I think it is a good idea to have a prompt as an optional way of doing the blog assignments. I think it would also be good to maybe have one person do the post each week and the rest of the students comment on that one post. That way everyone would be much more in tune with one another. Overall though, I think the blogs are a very good idea.

Posted by at 9:05 PM

Procrastination is an Addiction

For me procrastination is an addiction. I seriously can't ever bring myself to do anything until it is the last possible minute. These blogs are a testament to that. The thing is, my procrastination has gotten worse and worse over my career here as a student. I find myself doing anything possible besides homework until my only choice is to do the assignment or fail my course. I find myself getting a strange sense of pleasure from this. There is nothing like the feeling of standing on the edge of a cliff.

I think I really came to realize my potential as a procrastinator during the first semester here. I was taking my freshman comp class and it was the last paper. Up until this point, I had recieved B's on all of my papers. I had tried to do everything that the instructor had told me to do and had put a lot of effort into all of my papers. I was basically sick of it at this point. It was the night before the paper was due. I decided the best thing to do was put off the paper to the last possible second. I think I finally started writing the paper around three in the morning. I was so tired, all I wanted to do was go to sleep, but I had to finish the paper! I plowed away at that thing so fast, just so I could rest my eyes. It probably took me forty five minutes to write the thing. What do you know, I got my only A for the course. LOL! what a joke!

Over the summer, I was working on a bunch of correspondance course assignments. I found myself producing crap when I had all the time in the world to do it. I did so many revisions of my written work, and rethought it in my brain so much, that finally I couldn't take it anymore and would just print off my assignments and hand them in. I didn't end up getting A's on these assignments much to my dismay. As time has progressed and I have basically run out of time, I have had to start pumping out these assignemnts, and ever since then I have gotten A's on all of them. Pretty amusing if you ask me. I think the issue is that I can focus my thoughts much more coherently if I absolutely cannot let myself think of anything else, and the only motivation to do that is failing school.

Posted by at 8:50 PM

Appointments vs. Walk-ins

I would like to discuss the issue of scheduled appointment sessions vs. walk in sessions. This isn't really a topic that we have discussed in class, however, I think it is an important one to think about. As you may know the General College writing center where I work is exclusively walk in based. As I understand it, the writing center in Lind Hall is pretty much appointment based, although some students are allowed to walk in if there is a cancellation or an open time slot.

The thing that I get hung up on concerning the scheduled appointments is mostly the forty five minute time slots that the schedule is based off of. I don't see anything wrong with the time itself, except for the lack of flexibility that this system affords. Personally, most of my consulting sessions do not last forty five minutes. I think my average is somewhere around twenty five minutes per session. I have talked to a couple people in class about the forty five minute time period, and it appears that most of the time the whole time period is not usually utilized.

This is not to say that a walk in system is completely better than the appointment based approach, it has its downside also. One of the main drawbacks to this system is overload of people and feeling rushed. The GC writing center is in one big room wth various tables scattered about and is completely open. There are times when the center becomes very crowded with people, and at these times it get a little nerve wracking. I often get anxious when working with someone because I can see all of the people waiting to work with a consultant and I can't focus on the person I am tutoring.

This being said, I think it would be nice to see a writing center combining both of these approaches. Something like 5 or so consultants doing scheduled appointments, while 2 or 3 work on a walk in basis.

Posted by at 8:26 PM

No I won't 'correct' your grammar! &*$##@*($%^(%

Today was probably the most frustrating day I have ever had working at the writing center. I couldn't keep track of the number of individuals that asked me today if I would 'edit' their paper for grammar. In the GC writing center this is a pretty common request, one that I get almost every day that I am consulting. In the usual scheme of things it doesn't really bother me all that much. I am never thrilled to hear it, but I usually attempt to put a positive spin on it and turn it into a genuine learning experience for the student. At least that is what is supposed to happen. It is a lot easier though when there are not hoards of people waiting for your attention on their paper and when they just want something they can turn in that looks good. It seems at the end of the semester most people have given up on learning and only care about handing in something that looks pretty.
The first few people I worked on grammar with today were pretty cooperative. You could tell they were a little bit annoyed that I wasn't just racing through and correcting all of the errors in their work, but we were able to identify some trouble spots and these students seemed comfortable putting some of their own effort into fixing these issues. As the day wore on though things just went downhill. At one point I was reading a paper to a student who started staring at the ceiling and nodding off. I proptly brought that one to a close without getting anything accomplished much to the dismay of the individual I was working with. During another episode a girl asked me directly if I would edit her paper for grammar. When I inquired what she meant by edit, she clarified that she wanted me to specifically correct her grammar. When I told her I wouldn't correct her grammar, but would be willing to work on it with her she got pretty upset and left.
I am wondering if this happens very often over in Lind Hall. Do you guys have to deal with such demands of people just coming in for the sole reason of correcting their grammar? I hope not! In my opinion grammar is a plague and should be banished forevever!!!@!!! &*7($%^....my thoughts exactly!

Posted by at 6:15 PM

Finals Really Stink

All I have to say is, finals smell like poo! Until this semester I was overjoyed to have a written final; a paper to turn in for a final grade or a take home essay question to complete and turn in. That was until ALL of my finals were that way. It really is not enjoyable to have written finals in seven classes worth 21 credits total. Trust me, it is a lot of writing and not something anyone should ever attempt to do. Of course my procrastination is partly to blame, but not solely. I must add in here that being a writing consultant during this season's finals makes it that much more difficult. I don't have two seconds to think about anything but writing. I do however get some satisfaction from working with other people on their writing, however, only because it can take my mind off of my own. It is really unbelievable the amount of wriing I have to do in the next three days. I found myself worshiping my Anthropology final the other day. I get extremely excited when I think of a multiple choice test and know that I only have to get 70% of the questions correct. I can basically not study and use some rediculous test taking strategies. This is the first time in my life I have looked forward to taking a test worth 40% of my grade.

Good luck to everyone this week! I hope everything goes well for you all, it has been a pleasure being in class with all of you. I will definitely be scheduling some sessions over at the writing center next semester and I hope to see everyone around.

Posted by at 3:20 AM

December 8, 2005

Frequent Flyers

I started thinking about “frequent flyers,? or clients who come in to see the same client repeatedly, after my last consulting session in class on Tuesday. Basically throughout the semester, I deal almost exclusively with the same clients over and over. At first during the semester I really enjoyed this because it gave me the chance to work on a paper more than once with the student and really see the progression of the work. However, for me this quickly lost its novelty as the same five students became basically the only students that I saw. These students also in the commanding English class I T.A. for. At this point I interact with these students four times a week consistently.

I really enjoy each one of them on a personal level, however, on a professional level, some days I have come to dread seeing these people. I dread seeing them not just for myself, but for their own personal benefit as well. I believe that I help these students with their writing; however, I also believe they need more than my perspective. There are times when I might be consulting with someone other than these frequent clients and all the other tutors are busy that I will purposely drag out my consultation so that the frequent client will be forced to work with someone else. I suppose this is because of my indirect nature.

Another thing that bothers me about working with these clients has come about as I have gained more experience as a writing tutor. When I work with different clients, I tend to try employing different tutoring strategies to test out how they work, and as I have gained experience I have tried to change my practices quite a bit. However, with these frequent clients this is hard. They get used to interacting with me in a certain way, and if I try to switch things up I can see that it doesn’t always have a positive effect on the student. They come in expecting something and if I don’t deliver, they are disappointed.

I guess what I am trying to get at here is that, while it is nice to get to know a particular client and develop a certain understanding with them; you might not want to get too involved. I am very personable with people; however, I believe my experiences this last semester have taught me to attempt keeping that trait in check while on the job, at least this job.

Posted by at 1:29 AM

Hearing Impaired Writers

Over the past few weeks, I have had the opportunity of tutoring a hearing impaired student. Basically he is completely deaf and has been since birth. Usually when he comes in for a tutoring session, he has an interpreter with him so we can communicate easily, other times we just type back and forth to each other on the laptops. I have found these sessions to be quite frustrating though for one simple reason. I don’t know how to really give him knowledge about English. When he comes in, he always wants to work on grammar, and for good reason, his grammar is definitely in need of some help. During our sessions, however, I just end up doing all of the work and making grammatical changes in his writing. He has a lot of problems with word forms and verb endings. He likes to make everything pluralized when it is completely out of place. During one session, I was trying to explain to him why his words were wrong, he was always turning verbs into adverbs with –ly endings and such, and adding –s endings all over the place. However, when I tried to communicate this to him, the interpreter mentioned that deaf people commonly do this in their writing because they have no way of expressing these things in sign language. Apparently from what she told me, there are no plurals in sign language. So how am I supposed to help this guy out? I feel that I am just correcting this guys paper and doing all of the work for him without him gaining any useful knowledge that he could apply in his future writing. Is this even something I should be doing? or should I just refuse to do his grammar corrections for him.

Posted by at 1:00 AM

October 31, 2005

Halloween!!

Hi everyone, how was Halloween weekend for all of you? Anything spectacular? Please post any good stories as comments if you have them. My weekend was going good until the end Saturday night when it was ruined by a perfectly ignorant police officer. We were at this awesome party which pretictably was busted up by the cops. This idiot comes in yelling for everyone to leave and then shouts at the top of his lungs, "Do you realize REAL people live here, people with jobs!!!" This really got me going along with a lot of other people. I promply marched up to this moron and introduced myself as indeed a REAL person with a job, thank you very much! So did quite a few other individuals. Why is it that law enforcement always has to be disrespectful! Having a nice gathering on a Saturday night is not illegal and certainly does not warrant such disrespect. Now I have traveled and lived in quite a few different countries and I can say from my experience and knowledge that this crap coming from an officer of the law would not fly in any of those places? Why is it so common here? In other places, young adults have an extreme advantage over those in the U.S. when it comes to respect. I remember talking with this girl from Vancouver about the subject of partying, she was astonished when I told her police always came to disrupt private parties, so were my Swedish, French, German, Italian, English, Danish, Norwegian, Greek, Spanish, Icelandic, Swiss, Austrian, Australian, and Brazilian friends that I have met during my travels. What is the deal here? Why is law enforcement such a pain in this country? Do you know in Denmark police cant come into your home for any reason unless you let them? In Norway if you lay on the ground a police officer cannot physicaly touch you in any way, if he does he will be promptly fired. Police brutality and disrespect towards citizens does not occur in these places. I am riled up now, sorry for subjecting you all to my anger. see you guys soon

Posted by at 1:11 PM

A moment of Success

I am feeling really blog happy today for some reason. I have done a pretty poor job of posting the required number of blog entries. Anyway, I was walking into work today when a student I have worked with previously stopped me in the hall. She was all smiles as she ran up to me and thanked me profusely for working on a paper with her. Apparently she got an A on it and is now in my debt :) It is such an awesome feeling to have someone do this and to know you actually helped someone out. At least it is for me. I hope this happens to everyone at some point in time through your work. I feel quite privelaged to be involved in this work in general, it is quite trying at time, but when the rewards come like this one, it is extremely worth it. It is nice to know that there are some people succeeding in their writing, even if it isn't me. (So far my research project is a bust, no responses to my questionaire). See you guys later.

Posted by at 12:46 PM