After a full weekend of training and role-play, I did my first shift as a consultant at the Writing Center on Monday morning. I admit, I was a bit nervous and excited, but I figured nothing gets college students out of bed before noon on Monday anyway, so my first shift was likely to be just critiquing online drafts and doing basic “housekeeping” tasks like xeroxing fliers and watering the plants.
Instead, the operating principle seemed to be that anyone who cared enough to use the writing center in the first place was the sort of conscientious student who did their homework over the weekend and came in first thing on Monday to work on it. We had a line out the door from the moment we walked in, even the two program administrators dove in to help cut down the wait time, and I went from one consultation to the next without so much as a moment to catch my breath.
I loved it. I went two hours straight without even noticing time pass, and afterwards I spent an hour with one of my new coworkers coming down from the high, talking over what we did right, puzzling over what we might do better next time.
I’d say I did most things really well; I think I helped people and left them feeling good about their writing and confident about the rewrites they were going to do. But the two skills I need to work on are questioning students Socratically and letting them figure things out themselves (working in a time crunch, it’s hard to let someone slowly puzzle through the answer when I can tell it to them in two seconds, but I have to remember that I’m teaching people to fish, not handing them a salmon fillet) and complimenting people more to build their confidence.
All in all, I think it’s going to be a lot of fun, and teach me a lot about teaching. It’s going to be a great semester.