Showing posts from 2012

Where I'm Supposed to Be

I was scared when I started consulting. But like, for real. How was I, a junior Communication major, supposed to help undergrads and grads of all majors with any part of their writing? What if I didn’t have the words to say? Or worse, what if I told them the wrong thing? And then I just sucked it up and did it. And loved it. Scared freshmen with English 104 rhetorical analyses. International grad students working on their electrical engineering dissertations. Group projects and presentations and resumes and personal emails. I went to each session and gave myself to the cause: to help better communication and writing. I learned two major lessons: 1. teaching doesn’t have to be scary and 2. I love it. Teaching seemed like the one career choice I never gave any thought to. (In truth, there are many career choices I’ve never considered; never have I ever had a desire to be an astronaut, for example). My best friend was on track to become a teacher and I always thought: that’s pe

Working Alone for the First Time

Today I worked with a student alone for the first time. His name was M---- and he was required to be here for his class. He had a paper to work on about his Manifesto. He chose to write about his agnosticism. In the paper he discussed what he believes in, how people react to it, and how people should live life because of it. I had him read the paper out loud and then I asked him what he would like help with. He wanted help with adding one page and also wanted to work on grammar. I knew we could not work on grammar and so I told him that his grammar was fine. It was fine as well, but I don’t know how to respond for the next time when someone asks me that (I know someone will ask me that in the future so I need to be prepared). I suppose I could explain why we don’t really work on grammar here at the writing center; well we don’t work on it until the very last step in the writing process. I asked him how he wanted to expand. He wasn’t sure so I suggested that he talk about how h

Helping Someone Makes Me Feel...

Today I had the opportunity to help a walk-in student with the beginning stages of her paper. At first I could tell that she was nervous, but then after some time she was able to open up and feel comfortable with me. My goal is always to make the student feel as comfortable as possible. How would they be able to express themselves freely or do their best work if they’re not comfortable? Since I am just starting out in the writing center, I have many skills I have to develop; however, I am ecstatic that I was able to make this tutee comfortable. To me, that is the most important thing. When we were done with the session, the tutee asked when I will be here at the Writing Center again. I was so surprised at this and I told her my schedule. She said that she would definitely want to come to see me for her paper again next week. This gave me a feeling that I cannot describe. I was so glad that I could assist someone and make such an impact that they would want to come and see me aga

Session Reports: Who should write it?

                I have been observing many sessions in the writing center with different consultants. In general, they all have similar strategies for running the session; however, there is one thing that I noticed differs from to tutor. Who writes the session report? Should the tutor write it? Should the tutee write it? Should there be collaboration in constructing it?                 If a student is required to go to the writing center by a teacher, a session report will have to be written and emailed to the professor and a copy of it to the student. It serves a couple of purposes. It informs the professor how the session went and also serves as a record and reminder to the student when they work on their assignment later. After each session, I ask the tutor why they chose what they did with making a session report. Here are some answers that I received: “I always write the session report myself because usually the student won’t be able to tell me what we did in the sessio

My First Session

                 I went into the writing center, planning to observe a session or two and take notes; however, when I sat down to chat with my mentor Bob before the student arrived, he asked me how I would feel about running the session. I hesitated before giving him my answer. I had never tutored before and I was quite nervous.   Would I know what to do? Would I make a fool of myself? Would my advice make sense and be relevant to the student? Despite my fears, I was excited as well. This would be one step closer to doing the job that I have wanted to do. I also remembered one of the quotes I live by that was said by Eleanor Roosevelt, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” This most definitely scared me!                 “Okay!” I said enthusiastically. Amy, the student, arrived for her appointment and sat on the orange couch to wait, which is customary in our writing center. With a huge smile, I found Amy and described the situation to her. Thankfully, she was fine with bein

Perfection and the “One Big Grammar Mistake” Syndrome: A Shift in Philosophy

Every time I am in a foreign country where I don’t know the language or culture, I immediately end up wanting to climb into a UPS shipping box and overnight myself straight back to my home in Texas. Back home, I know I can effectively speak and write in English (which ironically is my second language), and I don’t have to feel embarrassed every time I open my big, foreign mouth.   Struggling to formulate simple sentences is embarrassing. Staring blankly back at someone who is trying to explain something to me that seems so simple and yet is so complicated is humiliating. Having my grammar corrected every other word is enough to make me want to be mute for the rest of my life. Let’s have a change of scenery and fast-forward to a typical day in the writing center—it’s your next session as a peer consultant is with an international student. You give a little sigh because you already know what’s next — all of the sudden you are listening to student struggle to formulate simple sentence

Other Side of the Track

Yesterday I walked into the Learning Studio with the perspective of a student, not that of a mentee or an observer. Simply changing my ambitions for showing up ultimately seemed to have an impact on how I felt coming in. I anxiously waited on a bench for my tutor to show up. I had not met this gentleman before and was curiously scanning the room to seek out my possibilities. I had only been there for two minutes and my tutor, introduced himself to me as we made our way to a cubicle he seemed to have been sitting at. We sat down and I gave him a basic overview of what I was aiming to accomplish with the four page paper I had written for my Writing Theory class, that I needed help revising. He asked me to read the paper and I began to read the paper out loud. Once I was done,  he appeared to admired the use of details I presented to make a specific tutoring session come to life with the actions of the tutor and the student.  It was then his turn to read the paper out loud. He cla
     I recently had the chance to observe a session with a student whose first language is nnot English, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that she's an ESL student, as her accent was thin, and she kept up in conversation. I have to admit, however, that as the session continued, the language barrier did become a bit of a focal point.      Upon arrivial, the student said that she wanted to "correct" her paper, and when pressed, admitted that correcting punctuation and vocabulary was her goal for the session.The tutor began to read through the paper and made small notes on the page. Meanwhile, the writer sat quietly and fiddled with various papers and looked generally disinterested. Upon noting this behavior, my initial thought was that this student, like others I've seen, had no desire to be at the writing center and only there to appease her instructor. Looking back, however, I realize that her fidgeting may have been related to the language (and, possibly, cult