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Showing posts from March, 2013

Writers, Tutors, and the Humanity That Exists Betweeen Them

What do they need? Did I help? Did I give too much? Tutors often spin out with these questions and doubt themselves because there is much confusion on how to best help students or what qualities make a good tutor. Effective tutors possess empathy for tutees, focus on writers versus papers, model positive behaviors, and foster growth in students.

In order to sense and understand what students need, tutors must first empathize with their tutees. By doing this, tutors can better understand what state of mind their tutees are in, and this allows assessment of what approach may be most beneficial. On a daily basis, anxiety, lack of confidence, and the complete shutdown of the overwhelmed brain enter our center. There are many reasons students that feel these ways. They may be experiencing problems outside of school. They may believe that they are bad writers because of the red pen culture that is so associated with education. Regardless of the reasons, tutors must first acknowled…

Confessions of an Antisocial Peer Tutor

I don’t particularly like people. Which is odd, considering I love my job as a writing consultant. I work with multiple strangers each day, cultivating and applying interpersonal skills with an agility that few other professions require. I can’t stand people, yet I love working with people on their writing. How does that even work?

This past semester, I worked eighteen hours a week at our writing center. However, I only consulted four of those hours and did administrative work the rest of the week. During this time, something happened that I never imagined possible.

I began to dread going to work.

After some introspection, I realized I sincerely missed working with people. Whatever it is that happens in those sessions, that was the reason I loved—and still love—coming to work. That, whatever that is, is why I do what I do. Although I may have a bit of an aversion to people in general (call me an introvert), I need that connection that comes from discussing, dissecting, reincarnating n…

WRITING LABS: The Expanded Edition!

Writing Lab? Writing: the process of putting one’s thought on a page, or, in an academic context, making content as boring as possible Lab: a place where people with white coats conduct dangerous experiments
            Seriously, though, what is a writing lab? Stigmatized as a resource for struggling writers, or a as a place where a messy paper is magically put through a grammar machine and comes out perfectly spotless and consequently boring, writing labs are often viewed from a skewed perspective. This skewed perspective can often be negative or limited.             Yes, writing labs can help struggling writers, but they can also help extremely skilled writers who might mistakenly believe that a writing lab would have nothing to offer them. Yes, writing labs provide help with grammar, but realistically, not all grammar errors can be fixed in the span of 30 minutes. Nor should they all be fixed in 30 minutes, because student writers need time to learn about grammar and become independ…

Transcending Beyond

A paper with wonderful content may actually be a really bad paper.  So many college students are taught to present a well supported argument, and these well supported arguments are considered to be all that matters in an A grade paper. But what happens when a student, a student with profound thoughts and interesting points, has difficulty presenting his or her ideas clearly and concisely? As a peer writing consultant, I have often encountered students who could be described as deep thinkers who care about their writing, but their sentences are just too confusing to fully understand their argument.  To the writing tutor it seems like a simple argument to solve; simply identify the subject and predicate of each sentence and eliminate all unnecessary words and phrases.  However, is it really just that easy? It is easy to say it should happen that way, but I have found that intelligent students often care a lot about their writing, and therefore spend a lot of time on every sentence bef…

Experiences with ESL Students

This is my first semester as an ESL tutor, which has been really challenging for me. As a bilingual person, I can attest that learning English as a Second Language is not an easy task to achieve. First, the most important thing to learn is language rules and vocabulary. When ESL writers can understand the grammar rules, and they have a broad knowledge of words, theirs ideas come out more fluently when they write a paper. Second, once students learn grammar and vocabulary, they learn how to build sentences. Then, they work on cohesion, clarity, coherence, and diction. At the writing center, I have been exploring different techniques to simplify the learning process for ESL students, which takes time and hard work. In addition, I have been facing criticism from some ESL students; some of whom have the wrong impression that because of my accent I am not able to help them with accuracy. Nevertheless, the hopes to become a good ESL tutor are still strong, and definitely I am not going to …

PeerCentered Meet the Author Discussions

PeerCentered is now sponsoring a series of discussion groups with various authors of recent (well mostly recent) writing-center-related texts. The discussions listed below will be held in PeerCentered’s TinyChat space. TinyChat allows audio and video but you can also participate via text chat.

We hope that attendees will have read the books and come prepare with questions to ask or topics to discuss. A moderator will coordinate the discussion and kick us off with some questions, but the driving force behind the discussion will be you.

The purpose of PeerCentered is to promote and foster peer tutoring, so please invite any peer tutors you know to attend.


April 8, 2013 2/1/12/11/19 (E/C/M/PDT/GMT: Tell Me How It Reads: Tutoring Deaf and Hearing Students in the Writing Center with Rebecca Day Babcock (Moderator: Clint Gardner)April 15, 2013 4/3/2/1/23 (E/C/M/PDT/GMT): Researching the Writing Center authors Rebecca Day Babcock & Terese Thonus (Moderator: Clint Gardner) …

Perception and Tutoring

This is my first semester as a peer tutor. I've learned a lot about my job and about myself in the last seven weeks. One thing that I've learned is that our perceptions color our reactions. A week or two ago a began my day with an unexpected obstacle; a young man with suggestively violent facial tattoos entered the writing center. I suspect that the tattoos were designed to intimidate, and they performed that function rather well in my opinion. 
      I'm going to admit that these thoughts ran through my head: What is this person doing in college? What job does he hope to get with those tattoos?
      I surprised myself there. I generally try to reserve judgement on people until after I've at least spoken with them. As a tutor, I realized then, I was doing this human being a disservice. I knew that my perception of this student would affect how I dealt with him during our session. I did not want to let this tutee down, so I checked my first reaction, …