Discussion Questions for Readers

Sparrows, Sparrows Family, Birds, Chats

The contributors to this collection developed discussion questions for their chapters. We hope these questions can help to guide discussion among students, tutors, and administrators on topics related to wellness and care in writing center work. 

1. A Matter of Method: Wellness and Care Research in Writing Center Studies by Genie Nicole Giaimo
  • How do the approaches to researching wellness in a writing center differ?
  • What kinds of data generated in your writing center might help you examine issues of wellness in your center?
  • What are some unique challenges and opportunities for conducting a study in a writing center?
  • Where do you see issues of inequity in writing center, or educational work, intersecting with potential wellness interventions?
2. Naming and Negotiating the Emotional Labors of Writing Center Tutoring by Kristi Murray Costello
  • Name the emotional labors you perform in your position and the strategies you use to negotiate them. You may find it helpful to refer to Table 1, in chapter two, for a list of some emotional labors of writing center work.
  • How can you and your colleagues work together to establish your center as a community of care or enhance your existing community of care, especially during the more stressful times of the year?
3. Imposter Syndrome in the Writing Center: An Autoethnography of Tutoring as Mindfulness by Benjamin J. Villarreal
  • Brainstorm some ways you can engage in writing as a mindful practice (you can refer to C. Brown’s suggestions for inspiration).
  • When you find yourself losing track of or getting stuck on an idea, how might you go about reminding yourself to accept your experience non-judgmentally and resume writing?
  • Think about a time you felt like an impostor. Without necessarily sharing details of the moment, share what other feelings accompanied it as well as what might have contributed to those feelings.
    • What do you notice about what others share?
    • What do your experiences have in common with the experiences of others?
4. The Hidden and Invisible: Vulnerability in Writing Center Work by Lauren Brentnell, Elise Dixon, & Rachel Robinson
  • Look around your writing center or think about the last writing center in which you worked. Where are the hidden moments of vulnerability (like dying plants, not-yet-unpacked boxes, and/or “alarming” magnetic poetry sentences), and what do you think these moments signify for your center (the space itself) and the consultants and writers in it?
  • How has your understanding of a “worst case scenario” for your writing center work been changed by local, national, or world wide emergencies like the COVID-19 pandemic?
    • What have you learned about vulnerability throughout this time?
  • In what ways are your vulnerabilities different from your colleagues’ vulnerabilities in the writing center?
    • How can you account for these different kinds of vulnerabilities?
    • What do you do when these different vulnerabilities create conflict or collide?
5. Cultivating an Emotionally Intelligent Writing Center Culture Online by Miranda Mattingly, Claire Helakoski, Christina Lundberg, & Kacy Walz
  • What aspects of writing center work are most difficult to manage emotionally?
  • In what ways might you mitigate the stress and emotional labor associated with writing instruction and tutoring?
  • What role does emotional intelligence play in a writing center’s health and culture?
  • How might discussions around emotional intelligence, and related topics like self-care and mental health, enhance administrators’ and staff’s ability to respond to changes in organizational culture (e.g., shifts in tutor offerings, team dynamics, administration and leadership, budget, COVID-19 response)?
6. Tutors as Counselors: Fact, Fiction, or Writing Center Necessity by Sarah Brown
  • How do you find ways of balancing between acting as a tutor and as a “listening ear” in writing center sessions?
  • Think about a time when you had a session where you felt your tutoring methods were ineffective. Do you think that implementing motivational interviewing techniques would have improved that session, and if so, which particular methods would you have used? Explain your reasoning for using/not using a particular motivational interviewing strategy.
7. “A Triumph Over Structures That Disempower”: Principles for Community Wellness in the Writing Center by Yanar Hashlamon
  • What elements of writing center work necessitate care and wellness practices?
  • How do we delineate where wellness should be practiced individually and where it should be enacted through structural changes to how the writing center (or broader university) works and is run?
  • What does it look like to apply principles of community wellness in your local context?
  • Consider the ways that wellness can extend the ways you have incorporated or have planned to incorporate anti-ableism and anti-racism into your own writing center through professional development and training. If these scholarly/activist commitments aren’t present in your context, how can an attention to wellness bring them into your writing center?


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Wellness and Care in Writing Center Work by Genie Nicole Giaimo; Kristi Murray Costello; Benjamin J. Villarreal; Lauren Brentnell; Elise Dixon; Rachel Robinson; Miranda Mattingly; Claire Helakoski; Christina Lundberg; Kacy Walz; Sarah Brown; and Yanar Hashlamon is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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