Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Don't ask me, don't ask me . . .

I was studying at my table when a student walked in who didn't have an appointment but wanted to meet with a tutor. I heard my bosses voice say: "We have lots of tutors available. Lets see . . . there's Alex and Arthur--" I sat at the table trying to study for every subject possible thinking to myself "maybe if I don't look up someone else will meet with him. Yeah: Just look busy. . . Don't ask me, don't ask me, don't--"
"--Alex! Would you be willing to meet with so and so?"
"Of course!" I never disobey a direct command. Usually. Besides, not helping him would've been a huge mistake.

The student had never been to the writing center before but needed help with organization. After telling him about the Center, I clarified "You just need help with organization?"
"Yeah. That's all."
I pulled out a piece of paper and asked him what assignment he was working on.
"An essay for this class, but I just need help with organization."
"Okay." I said. "Do you have you're assignment sheet?"
A puzzled look came over his face. "Yeah . . . well, no. No, I don't have it." I asked him to explain the assignment to me; he did, then I asked him about the outline for the assignment, which he gave me.  
Maybe he just needed to see it on paper. Organization: Check. 

Or so I thought.

"Well" he said, "this is nice and all, but I already know how to write the paper. I just need help with organization."
"Wait, what do you mean by organization?" I asked.
"I need help organizing my folders and stuff--do you do that?--cause I keep forgetting my assignments and I'm failing my classes because I'm not organized so can you help me?"

Oh! Organization! The realization hit me like . . . like . . . a realization! I get it now! "Yes. I can help you with that." I'm pretty OCD when it comes to organization: I told him how I organized my binders, how I limited a binder to one or two subjects each; I showed him how to plan a weekly schedule of assignments (by using his classes) and break studying down by day, shared an app with him called "Task and Cal" that's greaT with a capital T; I talked to him about other organizational stuff, and by the end, I think he felt more prepared. For me though, I realized all the things I knew but wasn't doing! I mean, yeah, I plan sometimes; I organize my stuff every now and then, but I realized I could be doing so much better.

I got home today, did what I showed the student for my classes, and here I am. Telling this story. Life has a strange way of teaching you what you need from where you least expect it.

1 comment:

  1. Hahaha thanks for being so funny. You bring up a good point in my mind about my role as a writing tutor. My first reaction when I read about your student asking you to help him with his organization was "We don't DO that kind of tutoring here." Reading on though about how you actually did help him with his organization and how Clint didn't barge in and put an end to the madness and how that in turn helped you and was a positive experience for all, I'm reconsidering my role as a tutor in the Writing Center. I guess my real questions are "What are we qualified to tutor in?" and "What does the constitution of the SWC allow us to do?" In my Level One Tutor Certification Course, we've learned about how we aren't allowed to provide any psychological counseling or advice to a student, and understanding that helping a student with organizational practices is ok and is a much more mild form of behavioral adjustment than psychotherapy, I guess I'm just left wondering where the line is, and left appreciating your skill at story telling.