Looking through the previous posts, and based on my training I know that sitting side-by-side with my client provides important nonverbal information about our relationship. We are peers and I am not an authority figure. While this is true, there is another reason why side-by-side works, and it is purely a practical one. While people are often capable of reading upside-down, it is more difficult and less comfortable. I think tutors would be more apt to miss important corrections from this position, but turning the paper so that it faces away from its author implies that the tutor has taken total control of the work, which of course is the opposite of what we want.
So how do we convince our clients that side-by-side is necessary? Most times students will choose the across the table position and look askance at a tutor who comes alongside. Well, we could explain all the reasons why side-by-side is better – it implies equality, the tutor is not in control of the paper, etc., but that would take time and is probably not necessary. Instead, there’s a simple, sensible and honest explanation. All the tutor needs to say is, “It’s easier if we both look at this from the same angle.” Problem solved.