Thursday, October 18, 2007
the dual roles of teaching and consulting
I have been tutoring in writing centers for a couple of years, but this semester for the first time I am also teaching an English 101 class. I know that this is a situation a lot of English grad. students find themselves in, and wonder if anyone else has any reflections on this--I feel a little bit like I have a bizarre split personality. When I teach I try to look teacherly by wearing blazers and turtlenecks (because physically I look about age 12) and when I tutor I wear jeans and a hoodie. I knew that I responded differently to writing in these two situations but didn't realize how big the split was until yesterday, when I realized that a student from my Eng 101 class had scheduled a consultation with me. I hadn't told my students they were forbidden from conferencing with me in the writing center--I don't want them to be in any way dissuaded from using the center--but I hadn't prepared myself for actually consulting with them. He was working on a paper for his music history class, and the writing center visit was a requirement made by the teacher. We talked about the paper, and different directions he could go with it, but I felt like he was responding to me as a teacher, not a peer, and I was guiding him like a student, not a peer. Another weird twist to the situation was that he had actually been absent from my class that morning, so when he came in to the writing center and saw that I was the same Elizabeth that taught his class he proclaimed right away, "I was sick, but I slept it off." After we had finished discussing his music paper, he asked me what he had missed in class that day, and we had a mini-teacher/student conference. So--teacher/peer conference/consultation fusion--can it happen? should it be avoided? any awkward/inspiring experiences out there?