By Sophie Morgan - Summer, 2019
We’ve all worked on an assignment and been unsure about where to go, how to end or, sometimes, how to even begin! I was in this very position a few weeks ago. I was in the final stages of a creative writing piece for a professional writing course and needed help revising. So, I decided to try out an online one-to-one appointment at the Writing Centre.
In today’s blog post, I’m here to share my experience at a one-to-one writing appointment with you, offer some tips I learned along the way and suggest some alternative writing resources!
What is a one-to-one appointment?
A one-to-one appointment is a 50-minute writing appointment where you work with a writing instructor on any aspect of your writing at any stage in the process. They are currently offered via online video chat.
During these appointments, you can address course-related writing assignments or other pieces of writing, such as graduate school applications, resumés and CVs. Below is a list of what you can work on with your writing instructor:
- Get started – interpret assignments, connect the topic to the course, develop a research strategy
- Organize notes – find main ideas, use support effectively, see patterns in your research
- Develop a point of view – form a research question, determine a hypothesis, create a thesis statement, formulate an argument
- Revise effectively – assess content logic, find grammatical errors, achieve clarity
- Document correctly – engage with and attribute sources effectively, use the citation style stipulated by your professor
What is a one-to-one appointment like?
The first step is to make an appointment for online one-to-one writing support. You can book up to two weeks in advance. Here are the steps I followed to book my appointment:
- Enrol at the Writing Centre or log in if you already have an account
- Select the term applicable to you (I chose “Writing Centre Summer 2020.”)
- Select an instructor and an available time slot
You can only book a time slot if it is white. If the slot is blue, it is booked, and yellow slots represent your appointment times. (Colours may be different in other terms.)
I also suggest choosing a writing instructor with expertise in the subject area in which you’re working. You can use the “limit to” function to narrow down your selection or read the bios of the writing instructors to find someone suitable.
- Fill in the “Create New Appointment” form
Once you select an instructor and a time, a form will appear. First, confirm the date, time and instructor at the top. After, you can list your course name and briefly describe what you would like to work on.
It’s also a great idea to upload any material you would like to share in advance, such as your draft, the course syllabus, the assignment instructions and relevant readings. This way, your instructor has the chance to read your work before the appointment. You can also return to edit your submission any time!
Note: If you’d like to cancel your appointment, log into the online booking system, click on your appointment, and select the “Cancel this appointment” option. To make a late cancellation (within 24 hours of your appointment time), please call Reception at 416-736-2100 x 55134.
When it’s time for your appointment, return to the Writing Centre schedule. Then, select your appointment and click “Start or Join Online Consultation.” To help make sure everything goes as smoothly as possible, I recommend using a webcam, a microphone, and Google Chrome, which is the browser most suitable for the video chat software. It’s also important to have a reliable internet connection and a quiet space to work.
Student Tip 1: I found that, before you join, it’s a good idea to have a copy of your work or notes ready so that you can copy and paste them into the common workspace. I also recommend being able to articulate what you think the issues with your writing are and being open minded—your writing instructor may see areas to work on that you may not!
Once I joined my online writing appointment, I was greeted by my writing instructor, Professor Peter Paolucci. We first spoke about the assignment prompt, what my understanding of the assignment was, and what my intentions were for my piece. Once Professor Paolucci had a good understanding of my assignment, we moved onto a writing exercise to help me identify key ideas. By doing this, we made sure that I was in fact ready to revise and didn’t need to re-write major sections.
In the final section of my appointment, we discussed style. Using the chat, he shared many online writing resources to help me evaluate the style of my piece, including a readability and gender-coding checker.
The appointment sure went by quickly, but I left feeling reassured. I also knew exactly what revisions I needed to make and had the tools I needed to do so!
Student Tip 2: Ask your writing instructor active questions, rather than passive ones. This means that you should include your opinion and understanding in the question. For example, instead of asking what an assignment means, try something like, “I think that the assignment is asking me to analyze this passage. Is that right?” Once the instructor sees what you understand, they can more precisely respond to your question.
After your writing appointment, it’s a good idea to reflect on your writing instructor’s suggestions. You can also fill out the feedback form that is sent via email to share your thoughts.
Any time after your appointment, you can book another one-to-one session. You can book up to one appointment a week (sometimes two, depending on how busy the WC is). When you re-book, I recommend sticking with one or two instructors so that you can develop a professional relationship with them.
Student Tip 3: Once you’ve finished your session, I encourage you to copy and paste the common workspace and chat into a separate document. This way, you’ll have access to all the work that you and your writing instructor did together!
What if I can't book a one-to-one appointment?
Whether the appointments are fully booked, you have a writing emergency, or are looking for a different type of writing help, the Writing Centre has a bunch of other resources for you, including:
- Online Drop-In: Ask a writing instructor waiting on a Zoom link any writing-related questions you have.
- Workshops: Enhance specific aspects of your writing skills from thesis development to paragraphing!
- Asynchronous Paper Submission: Submit your paper and assignment instructions to a writing instructor no later than three hours in advance of your appointment. Your writing instructor will then send you feedback within 24 hours. You do so by booking a paper submission appointment through the booking system
- Even as an upper-year professional writing student, I highly recommend booking a one-to-one appointment. No matter your year level, program, or piece of writing, working with a writing instructor is a great way to enhance your work, better understand your assignment, feel more confident, and build your skills as a writer!