Writing Center Observation #3

Note: Names have been changed out of respect to everyone involved.

Once again, I went into the University Writing Center to attend a tutoring session. I also observed a tutoring session between my Professor and my classmate afterwards. Both of these sessions were highly successful because they didn’t involve editing, but rather, dialogue and discussion. There weren’t clear roles defined between the tutee and the tutor. Moreover, the tutoring center sessions were “student-driven.”

In my final tutoring session with John, I made the decision right away that I wouldn’t let him try and take over the session. At the beginning of the session, I told him that I wanted to work on my pre-writing phase for an assignment in my Academic Narrative’s class called an “Ethnography.” As I was explaining the assignment to him, it dawned on me that I could write about the University Women’s Soccer Team, since I had just finished my senior season on the team. There are extremely interesting power dynamics going on between teammates, coaches, as well as between the teammates and the coaches. There is just so much going on.

When I decided what I wanted to write about (an obstacle in and of itself), we started discussing how I could approach the assignment, and specifically what I should pay attention to during my field research. I ended up with a full page of notes that developed out of thinking out loud, and us feeding off each other. The notes were extremely helpful when I actually sat down with my field research and wrote my paper. I thus concluded that the Writing Center was extremely helpful during the pre-writing phase. (I included these notes at the end of this post for reference, if you were curious.)

After my writing center appointment, I went to observe my professor tutor my classmate—who happens to be a brilliant writer. This session focused on the pre-writing phase as well. Mark explained to Professor Kelly what he intended to write his Ethnography on, and Professor Kelly gave him feedback and ideas. Mark decided he wanted to write about the Orange Post Office on Chapman Avenue and Lemon.

Mark went to the post office and met the postal workers a few days before, and they gave him an impromptu tour of the facility. Mark spent about 15 minutes narrating his experience in the post office, which happened to be a historical landmark of Orange. The post office was filled with antiques and collectibles, unceremoniously placed in the post office’s basement. The postal workers were enthusiastic and talkative—as if they were ecstatic that someone was interested. One of them had worked in the post office his whole life, and so had his mother and his grandfather. They both seemed unconcerned about the future of snail mail. Mark’s entire story was interesting and intriguing.

When he was finished, Professor Kelly advised him to ask the postal workers specific questions about their history, and their relationship with the postal office. She said that there are multiple dimensions he could approach the topic with—I forget the details specifically—because I was so engrossed in Mark’s details. Mark took notes as he and Professor Kelly went back and forth with questions and thoughts. They acted like colleagues as opposed to “Professor and Student.” The conversation was engaging, helpful and dynamic. It was an extremely successful conversation about writing, and I know that Mark left feeling motivated and satisfied—he told me so himself.

Tutoring sessions are so efficient when the focus is to discuss ideas. When we focus on grammar errors, the writer isn’t stimulated or taught what to improve on—the writer merely gets overwhelmed and frustrated. Through thoughtful dialogue, we can bring out the writer’s own thoughts and potential.


The following are the notes I took during my Writing Center Appointment


Ethnography pre-Writing

  • Hierarchical relationship between the coaches and the players
  • The cliques on the team and the dynamics between the teammates
  • Favorites
  • Assistant Coaches to head Coaches to Goalie Coach
  • Practice players to starters to subs
  • Coaches don’t treat you as an adult. You are treated like a kid until it works to their advantage for you to be an adult
  • Defense pitted against Offense à element of competition and not supporting your teammates
  • Your competing for playing time, your competing for coaches’ affections
  • Offense verse Defense
  • You want to love your teammates but coaches purposely will create a conflict for you to simulate competition and “bring out the best in you”
  • They want you to compete
  • Locker room talk
  • Relationships outside of practice and how that affects playing on the field
  • How do personal relations translate on the field? Do they translate? Are they mirrored?
  • Does the person’s personal relationship with their teammates affect their performance?
  • They’re trying to mediate their own personal bias beliefs/ opinions on people with their abilities to play soccer and then also they try to do what’s “best for the team” but they frame heir actions as “objectively best”
  • Like there’s no disputing
  • But ultimately, they are people and it comes down to their opinion
  • They try to establish in people’s minds that there is an absolute and objective value system or path or avenue to reach their goal. These players are just the best. It’s written in the starts. It is metaphysical. You have to believe that and agree with them.
  • They assume everyone has the same goal—what is their goal? What are their motivations?

o   Win games? Do they seem there is an absolute game?

o   What is the goal? Is the goal agreed upon by all? Or is it assumed by the coaches? Do they assume there is one objective path to achieving that goal?

  • Star players
  • They have their assumptions of the best methods/ ways to win games and try and establish an “absolute value system”
  • Coaches need to legitimize their decisions and they do so by trying to convince the girls that what they believe is right. This makes them feel better. If you’re not playing, it’s because you’re not good. If everyone agrees, no one challenges them. Coaches don’t like to be challenged.
  • Avoid the confirmation bias as much as I can.
  • Also have to acknowledge spring training is different than fall in-season.
  • They could be very kind, cause it’s very spring.
  • Hypothesis and your own personal experience.
  • College coaches want you to view yourself they way the\y view you. They make you give up your identity. They dictate your identity and your self-esteem.
  • CHAPMAN WSCR as a case-study
  • Not to prove or disproved There is a grey area. Chapman WSCR falls in that grey area.
  • It’s more complicated and that’s the reason why girls play all four years despite all the emotional turmoil/ adversity. Because it’s hard. But they love it.
  • What do they get out of it?

o   Character growth

o   Self- confidence

o   But it can go both ways.

o   I’ve seen girls break or triumph


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