This week, I had the chance to observe various tutoring sessions in my school's writing center. One in particular stood out to me.
It was this particular student's first time to the writing center. As we waited for her tutor to come bring her back, she was visibly and audibly nervous. She was talking to another student who just got out of a session, hearing all about what to expect. She was most nervous about the possibility of having to read her paper out loud.
Once in the session, the tutor nicely described what would happen in a session and the fact that she could get weekly tutoring if need be. The student knew exactly what she wanted to do with her paper, and was already on a second draft. Her reaction to having to read her paper out loud was "oh no, uhh do I have to?". The tutor kindly explained that it helps to hear one's own writing read aloud, because it is a good way to catch errors. When she started to read aloud her three page paper, the tutor seemed bored. He was slouched over and kept running his hands through his hair. This was distracting to me, as an observer. I can only imagine the student.
Also, we learn that the paper should face the student. This actually made the tutor less engaged in the session. Whenever he needed to reference something in the paper, he had to take it and read it. At one point, the tutor actually had to read an entire page to himself, leaving the student nervous. She was sitting awkwardly watching him, and biting her nails.
Although the session was overall a success, as the student left with a new draft, there were so many things that should have gone wrong. The "textbook manner of tutoring" was simply disregarded. He exhibited many signs of an unsuccessful tutor, but ended up doing his job. Perhaps this goes to show that we may learn many methods of how to tutor, but it really ends up being about the tutor's personality. This tutor seemed disinterested and frankly made the student feel awkward, but got the job done. All in all, all tutors are unique in the manner in which they help students.