The day is warm, the sky is blue and the smell of fresh pencil shavings are in the air. It's the start of another academic year and the anticipation is palpable on campus. Everywhere I look I see people scurrying around, laughing, bumping into old friends and making new friends. The Jammie Shuttles aren't running on time, the Sax Appeal has once again managed to offend a record number of people and there is no parking to be found after 8:30am on campus. Ah yes, everything is just as it should be and at the Writing Lab we are settling down to business.
Last week we ran training which is for both new and returning consultants. The training programme is fantastic, covering everything from the philosophical pedagogy of the writing centre to basic grammar, with everything from consultation strategies to the booking system in between. Just like cakes, writing centres have layers, and training week is one fat slice. Every time you do the training you come away with a deeper understanding and appreciation for what the writing centre is.
I really do love training week. Everyone is still fairly fresh-faced and excited about the year ahead. The new consultants are like girls at a high school party - desperate to join in, but oh-so-nervous. The returnees are endearingly earnest, nodding sagely with the weight of experience. But old or new, anxious or eager, we are all united by a passion for writing and a genuine desire to help others write better. By the end of the week, the consultants - like literacy superheros, armed with pens and fighting for social redress - are pumped and raring to go....
...only now at Health Sciences we are sitting around twiddling our proverbial thumbs. One of the challenges of starting a new writing centre is clearly that of making your presence known. As we are still waiting for our official premises to be built (watch this space!) we decided not to make a big song and dance about ourselves yet, but now I'm wondering if that really was the right choice? I suppose it's too early to tell and I'm sure that business will pick up soon, but each morning I log onto the system hoping to see some new bookings and it's hard not to become dejected when there are none.
But perhaps we must just cling to the principal behind the old writing centre adage that "Writing is a Process" and so too, it seems, is starting a new writing centre. So we will surrender to the process, keep our door open and our pencils sharp and try not to appear frightenly enthusiastic when students start to come knocking.