PeerCentered is a space for peer writing tutors/consultants or anyone interested in collaborative learning in writing centers to blog with their colleagues from around the world. Bloggers here will share their ideas, experiences, or insight.
What we have here is an over-eager tutor who appears to be hyped up on coffee and seems unable to give the writer the space and time she needs to answer his questions. The tutor is talking so much and so quickly that the writer simply can't get a word in edgewise. I would advise this tutor to start by taking a few deep, calming breaths before he even walks into the writing center. When sitting down with the writer, the tutor should be more aware of the writer's personal space and not lean in and start physically handling her paper right off the bat. The tutor needs to get comfortable with the idea of pausing to give the writer time to collect her thoughts and respond to his questions. Writing and conversing are reflective activities that require time for mental processing. The tutor needs to sit back, relax and take the time to ask some more ice-breaking questions about the assignment — and wait for the writer's answers — before he jumps in and starts talking randomly about the technical aspects of writing in general without knowing much about the specific situation at hand. I'd tell this tutor, "Great enthusiasm! I see you really have a lot to offer as a tutor, but the writer will get even more out of the session if you can give her some time to think and respond to your questions. You don't need to have one of you talking at all times in order to know that you're accomplishing something."
I would let this tutor know that while his enthusiasm to mentor writers is admirable, he is trying to control too much. He isn't allowing the student enough time to think about the question, let alone respond to it. While silence can sometimes be uncomfortable, it can give the student necessary time to reflect on the assignment and questions the tutor asked, as well as allow the tutor a moment to decide what direction to head in next with the student.
This reminds me of tutoring session I observed at the writing center when the student writer didn’t talk much. It came to mind not because the tutor didn’t give the writer time to answer—like this tutor—but just the opposite. When the student writer was silent after the tutor asked a question the tutor waited. At times, the student writer was a little uncomfortable with the silence, but the tutor told him to take his time and think it through. I recently had my first tutoring experience and I’m thinking know about how I could have used those words. My session didn’t have any long silent lulls, but my tutee commented, rather quickly, a number of times that he didn’t know the answer to my question. At that point, I jumped right in with his options, when instead I could have told him to take his time and think it through.