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Summer in the center

Summer is a great season in the Student Writing Center, but not because it is a "less busy" time of the year. While there are proportionally fewer students taking summer classes, and SLCC is only open 4 days a week, we have a considerably smaller staff of writing advisers and student writers are often working fast and furious to complete their assignments on the compressed 11 or 8 week syllabus. One could argue (and I could research this statistically) that we are busier than a normal semester in the Student Writing Center.

The fact that we're busy, however, doesn't deter from the fact that we get more non-tutoring work (thinking about the Center, developing programs, creating advertising, etc.) done in the summer time than any other. Part of me wants to attribute this productivity to peer writing advisers being so busy that the energy from that work spills over into a desire to do more. I believe that may be the case for some of the work, but I must admit that I think the real cause of this productivity is that usually none of the staff are taking classes during the summer. The lack-of-class thing includes me as well, since I rarely teach during the summer (although I've been known to do it.) What I'm getting to is that taking classes and teaching them does take away from the work that one can give to a Center.

There is a discussion going on about teaching, load, and community college writing center directors on WCENTER. I am surprised at the loads that some folk's carry. For example, one person stated that she teaches something like 15 hours instead of the normal 18 hour load. 18 hours! Oy vey!

I hold firm in the belief that load can make or break a writing center and a writing center director. While I don't hold that a writing center should orbit around a director, I do assert that the type of collaborative leadership a writing center director should provide is severely hampered by being overloaded with traditional classes. A writing center is an alternative learning environment from the classroom. It is also a place where peer tutors can and do learn. Writing center work should be counted as teaching load for the director, not just some side-line (but necessary) administrative duty like doing the scheduling for a department. Directing a writing center is teaching.

Load is probably just as important a concern for peer tutors given that they are uber productive on other projects in the summer simply because they are no mired in their own course work, but I'll save that meditation for another time.

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