There are many roles a tutor can fill; some are more effective and helpful than others. I will endeavor to explain a few of these roles and how they help the writer better understand their own writing.
It is important that the tutor not take on the role of expert. Learning is more collaborative and the session more successful when the writer is the expert, and the tutor is the learner. If a tutor can let the writer teach them about their writing, and why they wrote the way they did, then the writer is more in control and therefore feels less inferior and more comfortable.
A well-seasoned tutor will tell you that their most successful sessions have been when they, the tutor, acted as more if a facilitator of learning, and the writer was the expert of his or her own writing. Writers are more likely to be open to questions, suggestions, and ideas when they feel that collaborative atmosphere come into play; as opposed to the attitude of "I'm the tutor, you're the student, do what I say and you'll pass your class."
Another important role a tutor must fill is that of a peer. We are all writers, and we have all been in the position of needing guidance or feedback on our writing. When tutors are also peers, there is a sense of camaraderie and empathy involved that can take the session to a new level of learning. Trust is also built. Minds grow and prosper in this kind of atmosphere.
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I have posted a poll in the IWCA forums: IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll! It is a part of an earlier discussion that kind of petered out about the titles used for writing center workers. Please take a moment and vote! If you don't have an account on the forum, you can register for one by clicking on the "Register" link (next to the rocket icon in the top-right of the page.) Don't forget to state your institutional affiliation when you request and account. (That's how the IWCA Forum keeps out spam accounts.)
As a frightened freshman, I wandered deep in the bowels of the library basement. My eyes darted from room number to room number, looking for the aid my professor promised I could find. At the end of the hall, a golden light shone from an open doorway. My approach was slow and I lingered on the threshold. All uncertainty vanished when I was greeted with a smile and welcomed into the new world of the Tutoring Center. At the time, I did not know I would spend most of my weekdays in that room as a senior or how mundane this new world would become. How could I? I didn’t even know how much insight I would receive from my tutor that day! Being a learner in the writing center is a wholly different experience than being a tutor, yet I know many of my colleagues have not had the same learning experiences that I have. I think this is unfortunate because there is much that a tutor can gain from being a learner. It was my freshman year of college and everything was new. For me, that meant that fear
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