Wednesday, September 11, 2013
The Waters of Tutoring
I took work off today and decided to devote my time to observing 5 tutoring sessions at the Salt Lake Community College Writing Center (SWC) in addition to receiving tutoring of my own. When I initially entered the room I was immediately surprised by how many people were there both tutoring and being tutored. I said to myself, "Wow! You're in good company. It appears that everyone is as awful at drafting as you are." This put a smirk and smile on my face followed by a choking chuckle I uttered under my breath—this was the perfect ice breaker into the new and daunting waters of observing tutors and their techniques of which I will be performing soon enough.
My first observation and—in my opinion—the best one involved what appeared to be an experienced 23 year old male tutor employed by SLCC helping a 40 year old, Asian born, broken English female student attempting to complete a vocabulary assignment in preparation for a test. They began by first analyzing her assignment criteria. They then dove into discussing the differences between nouns, verbs, and adjectives as part of the said assignment. This quickly transitioned into word definitions, concluding with a brief summary of the discussion from the tutor who, lastly, sent her on her way prepared to ace the test. The flow of the session was sensational, however, throughout the tutoring I was most surprised with how positive and poised; convincing and confident the tutor was. For example, when she needed to know a word definition, he stopped everything they were doing then said, "Here, let's find it!" Next, he then would go to his laptop and together they went to dictionary.com to discover the word's meaning. I found this method of tutoring particular interesting, effective, and (most of all) enlightening. It was obvious the tutor knew the word's definition and could have simply spouted it off to her without a seconds hesitation. Yet, his experience shined through and he knew how important her question was to and for her, and demonstrated through this/his teaching technique that it was equally important to him. He made seeking out the answer a fun finding project for both of them. This experience illustrated to me that the tutor is striving to be tutored as much as he is tutoring; tutoring is a joined and, therefore, an enjoyed experience.
At the end of the session she was so thrilled with the help she received she happily asked him when he will be back to tutor again so she can come and work with him. This is the success of a tutor: being a continual resource of positivity and poise, of convincement and confidence, of friendship and friendliness. It appears that once one chips through the crust and enters the waters of tutoring its difficult to want to come out of it, and easy to want to return to it. I am in the waters of tutoring now: its time to swim.
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