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Wednesday, October 02, 2013

From Confident to Discontented

For my service learning project this semester I will be volunteering hours at the S.W.C. at S.L.C.C. Over the past few weeks I have had the privilege of getting a taste of writing center culture through doing five observations of student-tutor sessions. After making these observations I felt as if I would be very comfortable when the day came that I would be executing these sessions on my own. Making many notes and writing reflections on each observation made me feel very prepared to enter the domain of tutoring students solo. It was yesterday that I was called upon to begin my service learning duties.

Walking from my prior class to the writing center, I felt feelings of excitement and anxiety, though it was a "good anxiety." Even when I sat down at one of the tables awaiting my first appointment I felt  a "good anxiety." It was nearly immediately after sitting down to wait for my first appointment that a "walk in" student strode through the door of the center and somehow I knew she was going to be assigned to me. Sure enough, briefly afterward, I heard my name called to assist this student. At this point, that feeling of "good anxiety" that I mentioned earlier flipped into a frenzy of fright and anxiety that could be titled anything but "good." Suddenly all the notes I had made, all of the sessions I had observed, all of the reading I had done about tutoring swirled in a blank vortex down some type of mental rabbit hole, sort of like a toilet flushing. I sat down (probably teeth chattering and knees knocking) as all that confidence I had developed from note-making and observing withered from my consciousness. I simply made actions that would've come naturally had I not done any observations or reading at all, asking her about the assignment, beginning to read it, asking why she wrote the things she did in her chosen manner. Finally, I found myself in a cloud of calm content as the fundamentals I had learned and noted began finding me again.

The rest of the session went smoothly, though I still wonder if the student could sense my uneasiness in the early stages of the session. In the end, I am confident that I helped her fine-tune her piece by suggesting she add a conclusion, elaborate on a couple of bare two to three sentence paragraphs, and adding more information to support her main ideas. After loss of my writing tutor virginity, I believe I will be much more comfortable continuing my services in the writing center for the weeks to come.

7 comments:

  1. "After loss of my writing tutor virginity . . ." Oh my gosh: I can't believe you said that. Anyway, that's good your first session worked out. I don't remember my first session, but I do remember that I had "bad anxiety" in a sense: wondering if I was doing well enough, thinking I didn't know enough. However, from your perspective, this can also be "good anxiety" in the sense that it keeps us humble and willing to improve; as a tutor, I don't think you ever get to a place where you've "made it" or "finally arrived" (unless you're Clint). Try to keep going, doing your best. What you've learned from training is always an excellent fall-back.

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    1. I thought people might enjoy the humor in that statement. :)

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    2. I know I did xD Actually, my favorite was, "Suddenly all the notes I had made, all of the sessions I had observed, all of the reading I had done about tutoring swirled in a blank vortex down some type of mental rabbit hole, sort of like a toilet flushing."

      Anyway. Like anything, anxiety subsides through repetition (unless you're an air traffic controller, perhaps). It's like playing the piano, only instead of musical notation you're working with a language you already have experience with--though I don't claim to know where your musical talents lie.

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  2. I'm a bit confused :O When she sat down you just blanked? Got incredibly nervous? What about that particular session do you think caused it? I know I've had a similar experience but it was on a subject I was unfamiliar with like a methodology. I'm glad it went okay! Keep it up Jordin!

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  3. Jordin, I appreciate your honesty here. It's reassuring to me, as one who is soon to begin tutoring, that you have been able to navigate past the obstacles and nerves that come with being a first-time tutor. I'm looking forward to working with you in the SWC.

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  4. I agree with Alex, I am jokingly appalled at that statement Jordin. That's cool though it sounds like you gave that writer some good feedback. I also agree with Alex about Clint, the guy is like Yoda, and not Darth Sidius because the act of Peer Tutoring can only be considered to be on the good side. Why is that? It's because We are trying to improve ourselves, we're trying to work hard, learn, and we only succeed when we are helping someone succeed as efficiently as possible. It's like we're either always saving Ewoks in the wilderness or working on our lightsaber chops to take out some drones or droidekas (aka HOC's and LOC's respectively) in a more efficient and boss manner.

    In all seriousness though, I think the role of Peer Tutor is a fun, rewarding, and worthwhile path to trod.

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    1. And I am grateful to be able to walk that rewarding path.

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