Sometimes All We Need Is Non Judgmental Support

As of this week, I have had my first round of observing various writers at Columbia College Chicago’s Writing Center. It is rather intriguing how each and every student has a different feeling towards writing, learning about their own writing challenges, and how to fix those challenges.

The first session I observed was one that involved a girl who came in to the tutor to help revise a draft of an essay she had due for the upcoming week. She appeared to be a bit antsy but the tutor reassured her several times that everything was bound to be successful if both of them cooperated. Both the tutor and the girl sat side by side, looking over the paper. A small frown appeared over the girls face as she said, “This is so embarrassing!” as she flipped quickly through the pages. The tutor put a smile across his face and once again, trying to reassure her that he was there to help her to the best of his abilities, not judge her. It turns out the girl had an issue with using text language/slang in her papers.

“I don’t get why my brain has a hard time converting the words into normal English. It’s not like I talk like this or anything! Just when I’s more convenient to make words shorter...” the girl said as she kept her eyes glued to her paper. The tutor gave her a suggestion that I was not expecting. He suggested she try texting using full words instead of “u”, “kk”, and “thnx” to get back into a healthy habit of properly spelling. The girl frowned a bit but eventually said, “I can try. I do want to get a good grade on this paper! I’m willing to take any help I can get”. The tutor nodded his head and mentioned she had good points in her essay, just she needed to go back over those issues with text chat slowly and carefully. As the session came to an ending, the girl left smiling and thanked the tutor for his time and help.

The other two sessions I observed within that day were much more straightforward. The writers of those sessions were just looking for one idea that they could form into either a short essay or a one-page assignment. They were recommended by their professors to visit the Learning Studio and see a Writing Center tutor to sort out their ideas. The tutor, just as he treated the girl with the texting slang issues, treated these writers with much respect and had a positive attitude with helping them resolve any issues they may have had.

Seeing these tutoring sessions made me feel like the challenges of being a tutor in training will disappear once I’m actually out and about practicing. In certain situations, I strongly feel all a writer needs is someone to support them without judging them. I’m hoping to observe more tutoring sessions soon and perhaps some that may be a little less straightforward. I’m hoping to see how a tutor will handle a student who may be a little bit less cooperative or feel that they have no need to be there.


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