By Blanche Reading
On October 9th, a group of aspiring peer tutors took a field trip to the UMass Writing Center. As the Frontier Regional School year progresses, this group of individuals hope to initiate Frontier’s first writing center–The Redhawk Writing Center. The mission of this space will primarily be invested in the personal growth of the writer–guiding them through the revising process, but without constraint on their creativity and individuality as a writer. Meeting up with coordinators (professionals with experience and degrees in english), student tutors, and tutees, the Frontier students had the opportunity to question and experience the tutoring process.
The UMass Writing Center was founded in the 1990’s and, through a process of trial and error, the center became what it is today. The mission of the UMass Writing Center was similar to that of Frontier’s. The space will act as a hub for students, teachers, and learners alike. The center sees everyone as a writer and will assist learners in cultivating their individual writing skills and styles.
At Frontier, we strive to utilize the space and resources in a way that is cohesive to the mission of the center–making it feel both welcoming and professional. By exploring the design concepts of other centers, this gives insight on the spatial relations in accordance to the function of the space. For example, one talking point included tutoring sessions for group projects–how could we create a center that was customizable and adaptable? In the Writing Seminar class, discussion of the fluidity of furniture has been discussed, but it was valuable to view the physical facets of the center in order to coalesce prior knowledge and realistic limitations.
Additionally, students were able to witness tutoring sessions conducted by UMass students and peer tutees. This was perhaps the most valuable component of the trip- Frontier students could scrutinize the various methods and dynamics that make the sessions most productive. As the center will be a space for writing across the curriculum, tutors need to be well versed in the skills of listening, asking questions, and various styles/ genres of written work. Every tutor structures their sessions differently but the steps and general formatting remains relatively consistent (with variety in subject, student, genre, time, feedback, etc.).
At Frontier, we hope to change the school wide conversation of writing by enunciating its purpose, power, and place in a demographic of diverse and creative individuals. The knowledge that was gained from this expedition will further the advancement of the center and will provide a baseline mission that the group can further develop and expand upon. The students aim to create a space that acts as a community–a place where individuals can feel supported and strive to be the strongest writers in their abilities.