Talking Writing: Peer Tutors Share Their Craft at Conference

Pitzer Writing Center Fellow Tessa Tweet ’16 knew she was speaking to an audience of her peers when she joked about helping undergraduate students understand the labyrinthine language of the French philosopher Michel Foucault—and everyone laughed. Tweet riffed on Foucault at the keynote panel at the 2016 Southern California Writing Centers Association Tutor Conference, which drew more than 300 writing tutors and writing center leaders to Westmont College on February 27.

Tessa Tweet was one of seven Pitzer students who presented at this year’s conference. Pitzer Writing Fellows Will Duke ’16, Amelia Haselkorn ’16, Doug Lewis ’17 and Lena Tran ’18 led a workshop called “Suspending Disbelief: How Taking a ‘Leap of Faith’ Influences Writing Center Interactions.” Fellows Jordan Jenkins ’17, Anjuli Peters ’18 and Tweet shared a presentation on how to incorporate Peter Elbow’s “believing game” theory into individual tutoring.

Writing Center Director Andrea Scott, who attended the event along with Writing Center Coordinator Jenny Thomas, said the conference allows writing center tutors to explore their field through “scholarly conversations about writing and learning.”

“Students put into practice the principles they teach on campus, using their writing to ask ambitious questions and transform the terms of academic debates,” Scott said. “Writing is, after all, a means of engaging with communities of readers. Conferences render those audiences visible in powerful ways. ”

Pitzer’s Writing Center fellows hone their skills and share their insights with peers across the country and, at least once, across the Atlantic—in 2014, Tweet, Jenkins and Andy Wright ’16 won Institute for Global/Local Action & Study fellowships to attend the European Writing Center Association Conference in Germany and Poland.

Tweet, an anthropology major who will graduate this spring, began working as a fellow in fall 2013 and has served as a tutor for seniors applying for post-graduate fellowships. The conference’s keynote panel was a capstone of her tutoring career.

“The presentation was a great end to my time working at Pitzer’s Writing Center and participating in scholarly discussions about student writing and peer tutoring,” said Tweet. “And meeting tutors from around the state and from the other Claremont Colleges was a really eye-opening and gratifying experience!”

To learn more about Pitzer’s Writing Center’s programs, resources and staff, visit the Center’s website.