Adventures at the Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference in Nashville, TN
I know it's everyone's dream to go on a nerdy English adventure with three faculty members. Well two weeks ago, I got to live that dream by presenting at the Southeastern Writing Center Association Conference in Nashville with Daniel White and Lingshan Song. Our good friend Nathaniel Stickman tagged along to give his own presentation because he thought he was too cool for us. At the conference, we got to mingle with big-wigs in the writing center community and navigate Music City right after a snow and ice storm. Our presentation was about the research the three of us have been doing about how prepared tutors feel to work in the writing center after completing the tutoring training class. After lots of talks with other tutors and then presenting our concerns to Lingshan and Dr. Steve Price, Writing Center Director extraordianare and Oscar winner, they realized how under-prepared we as tutors felt when working with international or non-native speakers.
Once Lingshan and Dr. Price heard our cries for help, they decided to back up the anecdotal evidence they had so far with facts. Mr. White and Lingshan decided to send out a survey to get those facts, which is where I came in! I tested the survey then wrote a note introducing it to the other tutors so they wouldn't feel a need to be polite with Lingshan and Mr. White. Once all the data was collected, we coded it and made some generalizations about the information in order to utilize the advice and suggestions from current tutors on improving tutoring training. After we rocked our presentation we got to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference, listening to other presentations about identity and culture within writing centers and getting cool ideas about fun things we can do in our center to engage writers!
Although the conference gave me great experience to include on my résumé, what I'll remember most will be the lively (and incredibly nerdy) discussions the four of us had about analysis, phonetics, and sorting the English faculty into Hogwarts houses. Mr. White would be mad if I didn't also mention the great Loveless Cafe, a necessary stop for any traveler making their way to Nashville! I learned how much fun teachers can be outside of the classroom (
they're actual human beings if you can believe it!) and would highly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to jump at the chance to attend conferences such as these.
-By Hannah Fields, writing center tutor