A while ago, I had a consultation with a nontradition (older) student, who needed advice on how to write an essay. Last week, I had a similar student, but the outcome wasn't nearly the same. And I'd have to say, it was probably the most difficult consultation I've ever faced.
She wanted help organizing her essay into an outline. Sounds easy enough (she knew the basics of writing an essay). But it seemed like she was struggling with the content and didn't realize it. The problem was, I tried helping her revolve her outline around a thesis--but she didn't have one. She was supposed to write an analysis, but what she had was a summary. She needed a point, and I didn't see how she could outline anything without a main point to it all -- a way to connect everything together.
Well, we kept going around in circles and not getting anywhere. There was just something blocking our communication. She wasn't understanding me, and she didn't think I was understanding her. But then I thought, well, if she doesn't have a thesis, and won't listen to me, then there's nothing I can do about it. So, I tried to help her form an outline, but without a thesis, that was pretty challenging. So, I kept wanting to go back, and kept pointing to her assignment, asking her what her thesis was. It was pointless and very frustrating. The consultation ended up lasting longer than an hour (I didn't have an appointment after her, so I think we went over like 15 minutes), and I really don't know if I helped her at all.
She said I did help (but I really don't know how). But we also made her another appointment with someone else--(so she could meet with someone after writing an actual draft). But, I just felt bad. I didn't know if I helped a lot. She could've said I was helpful, just to be nice. I don't really know.
So, out of the whole time I've been working at the Writing Center, I think this was my only "bad" consultation. Has anyone reading this, ever had an experience like this? I guess it's impossible to have every consultation be perfect. But for some reason, it's those imperfect ones I seem to remember the most. Maybe it's because I always wonder what the outcome was: Did she finish her paper? Was it good? I'll just pretend I was helpful. :)