There are a few weeks left of school and Alex gave me the idea to put a post about humor in tutoring writing students. This is mainly a mixture of thoughts that caused me to chuckle, smile, or consider how helpful it can be to laugh in our field. Comedy can be an incredible tool when working with students of all types (except stuck up). I use small jokes all the time in my work and there are so many hidden benefits to it.
Have you ever had an instructor, teacher, or even parent that appear intimidating? Students that require help may feel humbled or below the tutor since they require their assistance. To many students it is embarrassing or incredibly difficult to ask for assistance from another, especially a stranger. A small joke with a smile can make a significant difference. It can help calm the student, reassure them that you're not a, "Judging know it all whose goal is to further their feeling of inferiority." Yes that may be a bit extreme, more realistically they're probably afraid of a lecture pointed at them or that you can't help. Of course this has an incredibly low chance of happening.
Hard to imagine? Well what if one freezing night you walk out to your car. You force open your frozen door and are excited to get the heater running. You slide the keys into the ignition and twist.....Nothing. Your battery is dead. You look across the icy parking lot to see a bundled up stranger walking to one of the few cars left. How quick would you be to run and ask for help? Would you rather call a family member for help? Rely on the stranger? Or wait to build your confidence, warm yourself up a little, and reassure yourself that another person will come? Now imagine the scenario where you actually go for it and dash to them. Their headlights illuminate your snowy body as you wave for their assistance. Would you feel better about yourself if the first thing they did was: blare their horn, lecture you about how this is your fault, saying nothing, or give a calming smile and ask, "I don't suppose you're going to ask for my autograph? ".
It isn't the best example but I hope it helps. I also believe it helps give a commonality between the tutor and the student. It reassures the student that you're there to help, not to grade.
What do you think about using humor in tutoring?