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A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 6–12, Revised Edition

Richard Kent

A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 612, Revised Edition is a how-to and, ultimately, a why-to book for middle school and high school educators as well as for English/language arts teacher candidates and their methods instructors. This revised and updated International Writing Centers Association 2006 Book of the Year shows writing centers as places where writers work with each other in an effort to develop ideas, discover a thesis, overcome procrastination, create an outline, or revise a draft. Ultimately, writing centers help students become more effective writers. Visit any college or university in the United States and chances are there is a writing center available to students, staff, and community members. Writing centers support students and busy teachers while emphasizing and supporting writing across the curriculum.


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Chapter 3: Staffing and Training


· 3 · staffing and training By year three, after our writing center was fully established, any student could select the English course, “The Writing Center,” and work as a student-editor. This course counted as a regular English credit and fit into the typical sequence of English courses. Eventually, this heterogeneous, cross-aged collection of kids occupied three of my six English classes. At our center’s peak, about sixty student-editors from my classes worked in The Writing Center, and a few students in my traditional English classes volunteered as staff members for extra credit. Other English teachers’ students volunteered for credit, too. At this point we had more than enough student-editors to staff every period of every day, including before and after school. Over the years, I found it important to recruit personable, highly organized students to lead our center. Usually, seniors served as directors and juniors learned the ropes as assistant directors. This arrangement helped with the center’s continuity and, to be honest, lightened my load as faculty-director. The more effective the student-directors, the freer I became to offer special writing center programs (e.g., SAT preparation) and to explore, reinvent, and write about my own teaching practice. I think it’s fair to say that my writing center student-colleagues pushed me to become more scholarly. Not unlike the graduate assistants I have now at the university, some of these high school student-directors became my teaching and research 38 a guide to creating student-staffed writing centers assistants. Their presence bolstered my interest in teacher...

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