I think a big lesson to take from the experience is that tutoring is by no means a science. While we may come up with theories about how the ideal tutorial looks like, we really can never rest on one idea over another because two things will always remain true: there are many ways to teach and there are many ways to learn. Because of these two truths there can never be an ideal tutorial, in my eyes. Sure, we aim to be as thoughtful and considerate as we can, but a tutor will rarely hit that perfect pitch within a 30-minute period; the situation just isn’t built for this.
This may be a weird way to characterize this process, but I’ll stick with it: the writing center process seems akin to one’s experience on a roller coaster. Riders vary greatly; some can’t wait out get on the roller coaster and feel that thrill and come out a more experienced person; others may be afraid of fast machines they don’t understand. They may wonder, "Will the car flip when it goes careening through a sharp turn, or will I make it out alive after being tossed and turned and suspended upside down and then set straight again?" The great thing is that roller coasters, much like tutors, also vary in shapes, sizes, speeds, twists and turns, so the rider has many choices.
Getting back to the tutor not being able to match the style of the writer within 30 minutes: the flip side is that writers are free to sign up for as many appointments as they want with the same tutor; over repeated sessions, the tutor can get to know the writer, how they write, and what they’ll likely need help with. I experienced a similar situation with a writer who came in to me for tutoring. He had visited the SWC previously and received help specifically with his organization, so when I began helping him I could tell he focused on his organization and didn’t need help with it; this allowed us to work on other areas in which he did need help.
I enjoyed doing my observations, especially because I can apply it to my work in the SWC. They allowed me to see the different ways I could approach a tutoring session. The experience gave me good ideas about what to do with my own sessions because I could sort of cherry-pick the things that I thought worked from the different tutors I oversaw.