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Writing Fellows Program

Because we know how challenging first-year writing can be, the Writer's Workshop offers faculty and students the opportunity to work with a writing fellow in Montserrat seminars. Faculty can rely on fellows to help provide more contextualized writing support for students than is offered by the Writer's Workshop alone. Students have the opportunity to build a year-long relationship with one writing consultant.

General

Who are the writing fellows?

Fellows are experienced consultants who have worked for the Writer's Workshop for at least one year and who are embedded in a Montserrat seminar for one academic year. All the writing consultants who work for the Writer's Workshop have successfully completed a 300-level English course, Composition Theory and Pedagogy, where they read about writing theory, write about writing theory, and conduct case study research on writing at Holy Cross. In this course, consultants are trained in the collaborative learning and peer review techniques of questioning and holding non-directive discussions about writing to guide students through the writing process—while making sure they maintain ownership of their own papers.

What do writing fellows do, in general?

The short version is that each writing fellow is paired with one Montserrat faculty member and collaborates with him or her to guide first-year students toward good writing habits. Fellows have five main tasks: 1) attend class once per week to gain a context for the writing assignments; 2) meet with the Montserrat instructor on a regular basis (whether that is weekly, biweekly, or just before each major writing assignment) to gain an understanding of the instructor’s goals for his or her students; 3) hold small-group sessions once per month for the instructor’s students on topics related to the writing process, such as: outlining, writing a thesis statement, and proof-reading strategies, among other topics; and 4) hold a reserve number of appointments each week in the Writer’s Workshop for the instructor’s students; 5) write session reports after individual meetings with students, which may be shared with instructors if students give permission to do so.

Students

What can writing fellows do for students?

Fellows, who also took Montserrat seminars not too long ago, can offer a friendly presence in a first-year student’s writing life. They can help students develop long-term writing goals and then assist them in working incrementally toward them. Since fellows are embedded in the course for a full academic year, they often develop strong bonds with students. By making sure students are active participants in monthly small-group sessions and in individual Workshop sessions, they can help students take ownership over their own writing. Fellows can help students at any point in the writing process, whether they are struggling to find an idea, revise a first draft, or polish a final draft. Fellows call on students to be active participants in discussions of their writing and review papers with them, not for them.

Does my Montserrat seminar have a fellow?

You will find out in the first few weeks of class if your Montserrat seminar has a fellow. Not all Montserrat seminars have fellows, but if you are unsure about whether or not your section does, you should contact your professor or the Associate Director of the Center for Writing, Kristina Reardon. Special small-group sessions on topics related to the writing process will be available for all Montserrat students on a first-come, first-served basis, so be on the lookout for announcements. All students are invited to visit the Writer’s Workshop, and Montserrat students will find that all consultants are willing and able to work with Montserrat assignments.

Faculty

What can writing fellows do for faculty?

Faculty report they enjoy working with fellows because they offer another support and resource for first-year students at all levels of writing ability. In class, a fellow gets a deeper understanding of the course content so they can guide students to a better understanding of the writing assignments in individual sessions. Fellows build guided peer review into the Writer’s Workshop sessions he or she runs with students. A faculty member could call on a fellow to help lead peer review in-class as well. A faculty member might find that a fellow asks a question about an assignment that alerts him or her to potential areas of confusion for students. The monthly workshop that fellows offer encourage students to think critically about writing outside of class time and to develop relationships with other writers on campus. While there is an initial investment of time in meeting with the fellow, most faculty will find that they gain that time back twofold if their fellow is successful in reaching out to students. Combined, all of the things a fellow does often leads to improvement in the quality of drafts that faculty read from their students—and can allow their students to develop into more confident writers. One note: while fellows can give feedback on students’ progress, they cannot grade or evaluate any assignments.

What should faculty do for their fellows?

Faculty should give their fellows a copy of the syllabus and add them to any online groups (such as Moodle) so that they have a fuller understanding of the course. Faculty should allow fellows to give a brief (5-10 minute) presentation in the beginning of the semester on their role in the course. Periodically, they should allow fellows to pass around sign-up sheets for monthly workshops. Faculty should encourage students to make use of their fellow’s time in the Writer’s Workshop—but should also take care to note to students that this often means planning ahead. Fellows are students, too, and cannot be expected to meet with every student the night before an assignment is due. Faculty should understand that fellows are there to speak to the writing (and revision) process and to help first-year writers develop good writing habits. Fellows review papers with students, not for them.

Who supervises the fellows?

Fellows meet biweekly with the Associate Director of the Center for Writing, Kristina Reardon, for additional training and to discuss their ideas and reflect on their own work. Ms. Reardon and the fellows plan the monthly workshops together, and she checks in on the fellows’ notes and reflections.

What can faculty do if they have more questions?

Kristina Reardon, the Associate Director of the Center for Writing, coordinates the fellow/faculty pairings and can answer any specific questions about the fellows program. Laurie Ann Britt-Smith, the Director of the Center for Writing, is available to provide guidance and coaching on productive ways to integrate writing into a Montserrat syllabus. She can give feedback on writing assignments, and both Ms. Reardon and Prof. Britt-Smith can offer in-class workshops on peer review.

How do I get a fellow?

Calls for fellows are distributed in the spring and summer and pairings are made in August. Contact Kristina Reardon, the Associate Director of the Center for Writing, with any questions or if you would like to get on the list for next year.