Showing posts from November, 2012

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

The First Year Seminar Rationale

I know that I'm only a sophomore, and that this project should still be relatively fresh in my memory, but for some reason I have been having great difficulty remembering what my First Year Seminar class had to do for our rationale papers. I remember the project that I did for it, and then that I had to write a paper explaining myself, but the instructions that my professor gave were particularly vague and hard to follow, and I sort of stumbled my way around the assignment. I know that during the summer the new tutors got together for a pre-class meeting and talked about these papers, but I don't live in Chicago during the summer and could not attend. Is there some website that I could go to if I wanted more information on these papers? I've googled them, but I keep coming up with results from random places that don't look as though they have anything to do with the project that I did last year. I'm asking because I had a student come in last week who asked for advi

Students with disabilities

A few weeks ago I had a student come in who I am almost positive had a learning disability. I of course didn't ask her about it or mention anything, which would have been rude, but it was turning over in the back of my mind during our entire session. I wasn't really sure how to handle her. The ideas that her paper was trying to portray were strong, but it seemed as though she was unsure of how to communicate them to the reader. I didn't really know how to handle her. I don't know a lot about different kinds of learning disabilities, but I thought that there might have been a social protocol that I should have followed. I know that we aren't allowed to try and mentally diagnose our tutees, but it's hard to ignore it when the person is sitting directly in front of you. I wasn't trying to dig into her personal life so much as I just wanted to have a better understanding of her situation so that I could be a more helpful tutor for her. I hope that before the end

Who Me?

I've been working in the WRC for about a month and a half now and can not become accustomed to the calling of "hey! are you an english person over there? I need help" to which I promptly reply, "Ok! Do you have an appointment?" "No" says the student, "Ok well we're a strictly appointment based system and right now we're completely booked but we do have a waiting list." I usually wait for the heavy sigh or the ensuing eye roll to smile cordially and thank them for their patience. We're offering a free service to the student body and yet students think that we can simply look over their work and have virtually no feedback for them. As long as they get their WRC slips to show they were there then everything's okay but when we can't accodomate their every need we are the bad guys. I should be used to this feeling of demonizing from working at starbucks during a white chocolate shortage but it still gets under my skin to be tak

No Show

I started working at the Writing Center a month ago, which makes today my fourth Thursday as an employee. I have had a student who made a weekly appointment for Thursday morning at 9am, and then will not show up. Every few weeks her appointment would be cancelled, but she continued to reschedule and then not come in for tutoring. I thought about asking Net at the front desk to help me permanently cancel her appointment time, but I hesitated for a while. What if she had some external conflict which forced her to miss her appointments which she could not help? I didn't want to cancel her appointment permanently if she had a perfectly reasonable excuse why she kept missing them. After she missed her fourth weekly appointment in a row however, I decided that four was too many to ignore, and I asked Net to cancel her appointment. I realized that she hasn't called to give any excuse for herself, and in my mind that gave me the right to let her appointment time go to someone else.

They exist!

Through my observations at the Writing Center, I have very clearly and regularly seen the prophecy of "every session is different" fulfilled. Each session has provided me with insight and direction, and has added to the formation of my personal tutoring process. However, when I walked into the WC Tuesday morning, I was unexpectedly presented with a very special gift: The Perfect Tutee. It might have been nine A.M., but this tutee was raring and ready to go. The second the tutor brought her back into the booth, she laid out her paper and proclaimed, "I need help creating a thesis statement!" From there, the two effortlessly collaborated to create a thesis statement that the tutee was very proud of. She was very committed and present in the session; her body language (chair close to the table, elbows lounging on the table, hands working quickly to scribble notes in the margins) clearly illustrated that she meant business. By the end of the fifty minutes, the tutee c

Ron Maxwell Leadership Award Acceptance Speech

Your humble PeerCentered Editor-in-Chief was honored with the Ron Maxwell Leadership Award  at this year's National Conference on Peer Tutoring in Writing  (NCPTW) held in Chicago, Illinois. PeerCentered has long been a supporter of NCPTW and has regularly posted materials in various formats from the conference.  With that explanation, i beg your indulgence in posting my acceptance speech for the Maxwell Award. 2012 Ron Maxwell Leadership Award I want to thank the selection committee and especially my good friend Jon Olson as well as the Maxwell family for continuing Ron’s legacy.  I also offer my humble thanks to Harvey Kail who nominated me for the award.  It is truly an honor to be listed among those who have contributed such excellent work to the field of peer tutoring in writing.  When Jon first notified me of the award, I was taken aback.  It was something I never expected, but am truly honored to receive. I also wish to thank and offer my appreciation of the peer w

First Session

Recently I tutored my first session and luckily got a student who actually wanted to be there. The student I worked with had been coming to get help with her papers throughout the semester, but by choice rather than requirement. The paper she brought in for this particular session was one that she had worked on previously with other tutors and was really only looking for someone to double check her use of citations.   After reviewing her in-text citations and works cited pages I found little to be wrong; I suggested a few corrections, but this probably took all of ten minutes. Not wanting to end the session early, I asked the student if she would mind reviewing over her paper once last time with me. Though she had already worked with several tutors on the assignment and read it aloud a million times, she agreed.   After discussing the main points she made in the paper, we began to go through it sentence by sentence. She seemed to have no problem getting her ideas on paper and the


This tutoring thing is becoming more intense. I dont know if its the fact of making sure we have the hours or the overwhelming observations, or just the anxiety of becoming a tutor next semester. As I sit in these sessions I begin to ask myself (I'm sure we all do) if I could handle it, because the tutors that I have observed seems so calm. Any advise or can someone relate?

The Distance Across the Table

I’m new at this. In fact, I technically haven’t even started tutoring officially yet. That starts Wednesday for me. It’s Friday. So I may not be the best person to talk about friendship in the tutoring session. Perhaps I can look at this post as a temporal document, something to refer to later when I have experienced the development of relationships with writers from across the table. For now, I’m just pulling from some observations I’ve made and some theories I’ve bounced around. The essential question here is, “Is it okay to be more forward– more directive– as we get to know the writer more?” My version of the short answer to this question is this: “It depends.” What a cop out, right? As soon as we get comfortable in any arena, we start to slack. Whether it’s not dressing to impress as much or putting less of an effort in, we find this a trend in social culture. In the tutoring session, this is just as much important for the writer as it is the tut

Three Girls & One Tutor

I was fortunate to observe a session that involved multiple students and only one tutor.  Three girls greeted the tutor kindly and pulled up some chairs to sit down and discuss why they had made their way into tutoring world. One of the three girls promptly discussed this was their first visit to The Learning Studio and that they needed help adjusting a collaborated piece so that it flowed smoothly, despite their various types of writing styles and authorial tones presented. Another girl chimed in and mentioned that the transitions were like a fly stuck in bubblegum: going nowhere. The tutor laughed pleasantly and reassured he was there to help. The tutor then asked each girl to read the portion they had written. In the voices of each girl, it was highly evident they connected to the words they had placed carefully within the eight and a half by eleven pieces of paper.  The tutor himself then began to look over the piece with a pen in his hand, and the girls chatted amongst thems