Saturday, August 31, 2013


My Professor asked the question, "What role does the tutor play in helping the student learn about her writing?" One role is to act as a guide, the definition of which is (according to Webster’s Dictionary) is “one that leads or directs another’s way; a person who explains points of interest.” As a verb it means “to give advice and instruction to (someone) regarding the course or process to be followed.” I like those definitions. A tutor suggests courses of action to follow and lets the writer make the choice. We can do that by asking them what they think they should do instead of giving them the answers to their questions every time, let them hold something to write with so they can make notes about their thoughts, point out what they’re doing right, give honest advice, ask clarifying or probing questions to get them to think about their writing. Those are some suggestions. I’m sure there are more. The idea is that guidance gives the writer enough room to think for himself or herself without feeling like they’re being told what to do or how to think (like how it is in class sometimes). They know more than they think they know, they just don’t know they know it. 
It’s all easier said than done. If writing was a hike, what if the writer wanted to focus on the grass instead of moving forward up the mountain? What if they don’t move? What if they don’t want to participate and expect the tutor to make the hike for them or carry them? What if they don’t know the terrain well enough to understand the guidance we’re giving because they don’t speak the language? I think as long as we do our best to help with what we know at the time, that’s all that matters.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Seamus Heaney "Digging"

Considering the role of a tutor ( Or the many)?

The tutor’s role can be viewed differently from both the student and the tutor him/herself. From the student’s perspective they sometimes see them as an authority figure, someone that makes the rules and can pre-grade their paper. The tutor is far from it. When it comes to authority the student is in charge since it is their piece, the tutor is a guide or even assistant. Advice is given on thoughts, vocabulary, flow, and more to the student and that advice can be followed or disregarded freely. The tutor walks the student through the writing process and helps translate what they want to say versus what is currently being said or understood. Tutors are guides to a clearer, fuller, and or more interesting piece but a guide does not carry the student, we follow them and assist on the way.

Conflictions, questions, and even blocks can prevent a student from accomplishing a great paper. The tutor’s role tends to skew from a simple guide to a teacher or coach. Information is delivered in a relatable way, from personal experience to actual text book. Each and every student requires a different approach. The uniqueness requires tutors to be flexible, understanding, and most of all encouraging.

One generic role is impossible for a tutor to follow in order to help a student. Tutor’s need to be a guide, an assistant, a teacher, and most of all: a friend.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Considering the Role of a Tutor

     It is my understanding, after reading the first 3 chapters of "The Longman Guide to Peer Tutoring" by Paula Gillespie and Neal Lerner as well as observing and reflecting on two peer tutoring sessions, that a tutor's role is to facilitate discovery and ownership with the student being tutored. With Composition being a seemingly very complex process, I will illustrate by another example. When you are tutoring someone in U.S. Economic History because a test is coming up, you don't simply fill out their test review sheet and then leave. I suppose you could actually do that, and then they would look over it and hopefully retain enough to pass the exam. If you teach them the concepts, vocabulary, and even methods of effective study though, they will be better prepared to study for future exams themselves and battle the experience of higher education , not just pass the exam they have next week.
     As I understand it, tutoring in writing is similar to this, only more involved because we are not just teaching students a concept like indentured servitude, we are trying to give them the process of composition and help them discover their own useful process. Additionally, in working at a Writing Center sponsored by a School, ethics come in. In my belief, a school cannot provide a service where its students can have their work completed for them. Therefore, my main focus as a Peer Writing Advisor should be to ensure that the student is learning how to compose themselves, and more importantly, how to search for and use whatever tools they have to find solutions to problems and new experiences that they might come across in their own composition process.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Roles of a Tutor

            Tutors can play various roles when helping students learn about their writing. A tutor is obviously a form of teacher, but it is also very important to play the role of a trustworthy peer, equal, and even friend. Seeking help from tutors can be an intimidating task for students, though when paired with a compatible tutor, the student will find their time and courage well spent. All too often tutors come off as impatient and condescending, which may actually be true in some situations. The most important skill one may find as a tutor is viewing the student as an equal. Many times students are discouraged enough as it is, and they do not need further scrutiny from a tutor to further barrage their self esteem.

            As a tutor, it is very important to focus on the positive attributes of a student’s writing. When making suggestions or corrections, it may be wise to sandwich them between two or more positive and uplifting comments on the student’s work. Also, be flexible. Keep in mind that the work is not yours, it is the students, and if they choose not to take your advice that is their choice. Avoid stiff, black and white thinking. When it comes to the English language we all know that there are massive gray areas surrounding many rules, and that many “rules” are not in fact rules at all, but mere opinions on style and word choice.

            Always keep in mind that though you may be tutoring someone in writing, chances are you aren’t the next Hemmingway or London. Though you may have an English writing background, education, etc. you are not the all knowing. Even if you were, writing in English consists much of opinion and style, and sentences and clauses can be rearranged and ordered in many various patterns and still be considered correct English by the books.

Dear me...

Dear me, It's not about you, but it will affect you, this work. Expect that. Learn to embrace that--the fact that your writing voice ...