Sunday, November 27, 2016

"The Herndon Writing Center Does CAPTA 2016: A Recap" by Jessie W.

A harsh wind kicked up the scattered leaves across the empty parking lot. Almost the entire writing center had gathered by door 3, decked out in our Herndon Writing Center shirts, excited for what was about to unravel at George Mason’s Arlington campus. The third year tutors stood laughing in the large circle as the newcomers shuffled their feet, unsure what to expect.

27 HWC tutors, Ms. Hutton, Ms. Brown, and Ms. Sneed, attended CAPTA 2016.

Flash forward to 9:00: CAPTA had a keynote speaker, Dr. Jennifer Wells, a professor at New College in Florida and author of The Successful High School Writing Center: Building the Best Program with Your Students. Dr.Wells had one main message: if you believe that you are capable of achieving your goals, you will be able to. She explained that one’s perception of himself is the ticket to succeeding in the future. Over 500 students, from 48 schools across 10 states, sat shuffling in their seats, excitedly whispering about what presentations they were attending.

One big improvement from last year to this year was that all attendees were able to choose their presentations they attended. This is an improvement from being placed in sessions without any choice.

500 Tutors, Directors, and Administrators listening to Dr. Wells' Keynote
Presenters broke off first, rushing to their designated room to set up. For my first session, I attended Tutor APtitude, a presentation on how to tutor AP essays, lead by tutors from Oakton High School, and its joint presentation on managing stress from AP courses, lead by HWC tutors Sofia Caballero and Jo Luttazi. The contrast of the two presentations was perfect because I could relate to both AP course stress and tutoring these challenging essays. The best part about each presentation was how useful and applicable I found them to be. Seeing peers give presentations like the ones at CAPTA is so inspiring to me.

The next session was on advertising and bringing in more people to the writing center. I loved this presentation because it was really similar to a topic I presented on last year! Everyone in the audience was given a chance to suggest our own marketing strategies,creating a huge collaborative discussion. I love hearing about how other writing centers operate and getting new ideas to test in our own.

Hundreds of peers flocked the steps outdoors in a variety of colorful writing center shirts. Lunch time was full of bonding between other centers and setting up more dates to meet and chat about tutoring. The lunch was delicious and we even had time to do our own mannequin challenge! My partner and I snuck back upstairs a bit early to begin setting up for our own presentation that was to come.

My partner Laura Wycoff and I presented on tutoring ESOL students and how we could make them feel more comfortable in the writing center. Our solution was digital tutoring! After giving our presentation, we had the rewarding experience of being asked to present again on a later date at Northern Virginia Community College. Another woman who viewed our presentation asked if I would share my material with her so she could share it with her colleagues. It was a great opportunity to make connections and get feedback on what we had worked so hard on.
Jessie and Laura after their presentation
The last session I attended was on setting up a writing center. The presentation answered all of my questions on Google Classroom and got me even more excited to test it out in the Herndon Writing Center!

After staying late to get my questions answered, I ran down for the closing ceremony. After a day full of excitement, all 500 students piled back in for congratulations and treats. I scanned the crowd full of tutors and saw the Herndon Writing Center sitting together and sharing new ideas. After a long day of meeting people, I settled back in with my friends as we cheered on Mrs. Hutton and the other CAPTA directors at the podium.

Who had fun at #CAPTA2016?

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