The View from Various Sides

Right now things are quite slow in the center. I am mostly just completing prep work for the fall. Some of that prep work includes hiring tutors and adjuncts for our developmental writing workshop. I have to say, it is very strange sitting on the other side of the desk asking the questions and making job offers. I sometimes feel a bit of a phony, and keep wondering when someone will wake up and question why I have any authority. Authority in the classroom I’ve become accustomed to, and in my short time teaching I feel like I was finally starting to negotiate a balance between being an authority figure that my students trusted and respected, but also giving my students room for their own agency as thinkers and writers. Yet, authority over other professionals, this is something I will have to get used to. However, with each task completed, I feel a little sense of “I’ve got this,” and I must admit I’m getting more and more excited for the school year to start.

Some of the other work I am doing is creating resources and promotional material for the writing services here. With the formal integration of the writing center with the learning center, I’m finding it hard not to seem like I am separating my work from the rest of the center—that was part of the issue that prompted the formal integration of these services and for that matter my job in the first place—while still not compromising the unique needs of writing center work. I think this negotiation is helping me, though, to more clearly conceptualize and articulate what work is done in the writing center and how it benefits student success at large, but also the challenges that must be met for this to be an effective service. One of the things I want to really work on with the start of the school year is to increase faculty knowledge and buy-in of the work we do. Hopefully, the work I am doing now and the conversations across the center that I am having about that work and how it’s situated within the larger goals of the learning center will help prepare me to meet this goal.

In contrast to the authority and ability to more clearly articulate my work that I experienced at my job this week, I experienced the all too familiar self-doubt and uncertainty that plagued my grad school self as I attended a mixer for English PhD students and faculty for the program I will begin this fall. It hasn’t been that long since I was in grad school, but in that short time I forgot the necessity of having your “elevator speech” prepared when going to academic functions—i.e. the quick and dirty, yet masterful articulation of your scholarly interests and what it is that you “do.” I found myself uttering vague phrases like “rhetoric and composition” and “technology” again and again. Now to be fair to myself, I was one of the few people who had not actually started the program yet who was in attendance, and though my current area of interest is rhetoric and composition, my master’s was primarily in literature so I don’t have much course work background to narrow my focus to specifics just yet. But I guess it did remind me that I have a long way to go and a lot of deep thinking to do before I will be in any state to write a dissertation. I guess my hope is that the work I do and the confidence I am gaining through my job, will translate into my graduate work. Here’s hoping.

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