Interdependence can help writing center administrators shift their focus from the writer-as-client to the tutor-as-client because, technically speaking, writing centers don’t work with writers--our tutors do. It’s about culture, not service, and it’s about investing in our employees.
innovation, practice, training
Interdependence can help writing center administrators shift their focus from the writer-as-client to the tutor-as-client because, technically speaking, writing centers don’t work with writers–our tutors do. It’s about culture, not service, and it’s about investing in our employees. In “Naming and Negotiating the Emotional Labors of Writing Centers,” Costello urges us to expand our focus from sessions and campus-support services to “[prioritizing] care for tutors and [fostering] emotional health alongside intellectual gains” (2020). When the pandemic forced us to move all services and community-building events online, we were panicked. We had worked so hard to create a culture that we didn’t believe could transfer online. It was about being in person . . . or so we thought.
We have found that even in the midst of a pandemic, we can continue to find ways to build a culture that inspires tutors to move beyond competence and courtesy to compassion.
This presentation describes how culture remained at the center as our university writing center moved online, and we discovered that many of the things we were doing for and with tutors were made better in a virtual environment, which surprised us. Examples of practical topics that are covered include scripts, session observations, and live tutor-to-tutor chat support. Ultimately, the pandemic has challenged our notions of what is possible in maintaining and even improving a healthy and compassionate work environment virtually for our tutors, and now that we have the option to return to in-person tutoring, we won’t settle for returning to “normal,” because we don’t want to lose everything we have gained from being online.
Type of Source: Conference Presentation
Presenters: Katherine Schmidt and Sean Tellvik
Year of Presentation: 2021
Title of Presentation: Inspiring Writing Tutors to Move beyond Competence and Courtesy to Compassion Online
Conference: Online Writing Centers Association (OWCA)
Location of Conference: Virtual