A humbling observation
Yesterday I observed a tutoring session between a writing center Tutor and an amazing student. She was from Africa and spoke several languages! They both sat down and calmly went over what she wanted to do with her writing. At that moment I became nervous, even though I was just observing. English can be very difficult to those who have not grown up surrounded by the language. The experienced tutor calmly smiled and translated what she wanted to do. "I don't know where to start. What to do." The Tutor read aloud and broke down the instructions piece by piece, then slowly simplified each fragment so the student could understand what the assignment was really asking. I think it was a great way to approach the situation, possibly too simple for an advanced writer, perfect for one who is struggling writing English.
I was scribbling notes and examining not just what was done but how it was presented. What was just a normal meeting for the experienced tutor and the student seemed very fast paced for me. Obstacles were being overcome before I could reflect on how I personally would have approached it. The process came off as intimidating but at the same time encouraging, since I was actually learning some new strategies.
Another one of the methods the tutor used that caught my eye, was what he mentioned when the student lost some self-confidence. "I'm not a very good writer." The paper was a personal memoir of their life. He reflected upon what he learned about the student earlier, complimenting and reflecting on; how many languages she learned, her origins, and the personal history she had given him. What makes this stand out is that it is reassurance and it works for the paper. Her spirits were lifted and her participation increased.
Observing other tutors is very interesting. I believe I know a bit about coaching others but seeing an experienced tutor in action can make me second guess myself. It can be viewed as a good thing. The experience proves that I have plenty of room to grow and develop as both a person and a tutor myself.