Comedy in the field of tutoring part 2

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.

 (I did not fully reread this so I hope it is understandable.)

For this section I thought it would be humorous to explain my observations while tutoring. This isn't intended to help but I hope they give a smile to experienced tutors. This is not meant to offend but merely joke around. If I do offend you I apologize. I love my position as a tutor, I've learned so many things in this field, but I think if I'm to use humor in my line of work, I should be able to laugh at myself as well. 

1) If I have to endure 1,000 words..

Have you ever been in this situation? You begin a session, take down all the information, then you feel the best approach is for the student to read some of their work. Then something comes to mind, "What's that smell?" You secretly cup your mouth and sniff. Nope, that's fine. You look around but nothing is out of the familiar. Then it finally hits you like an invisible brick wall and you think,  "The one day I should have brought some breath mints." I've worked with students that I've swore did not know what toothpaste was. I could literally taste what they've eaten for breakfast. What is worse is that you can't really say anything. You just smile and fight back your lurching stomach. I've been tempted to ask, "So.. how was that rancid road-kill alamode?" Of course I don't because I'm too nice/polite. Two weeks ago I had one that was so ripe and pungent that I had to use Kleenex to hide my watering eyes. 

2) S/He who knows all.

I encourage students to learn all they can to have the most successful future possible. We as tutors help student's receive their future, they come in asking for more knowledge or understanding and we gladly appease this hunger, or to the best of our ability. Then there's THAT student. An intelligent being that clearly knows better than you. I've only encountered three or four of these creatures in my short tutoring history, and according to these few, the set guidelines should be considered:

-You should question my position as a tutor, for you may not be qualified.
-I don't need to know how to be a tutor, they will tell you how to do it.
-Their work is clearly above my expectations and I should tell you how you're such a great writer.
-Grammar is the only thing needed of viewing. You should 'only' look for this and or what I require.
-You should listen and follow their intellect since they clearly are far superior.
At the time of receiving similar demands I was completely baffled, I was even close to asking, "Why did you even come here?"  Usually it's a requirement but sometimes I wonder if it's just to receive extra praise.  If you have not seen this wild species of students be warned, and be ready. 

3. No.  This is a service, not a  "Serve-Us."
This one should be self explanatory however I personally am only able to catch it after 10-15 minutes have passed.  Students may think of the writing center as a service the college provides to DO their papers. Were tutors, not a machine you can slide your assignment through to be fixed.   "Yeah can I like... have this back by  Monday, five page essay worth 100 points.. Think I nailed it but you know, do your thing.  Kay thanks!"  Tutors are peer helpers, we help the students help themselves. Personally I find it amusing when a student doesn't like that we do this, how we do not do the work for them.  There are things I'd LIKE to say but I can't like, "Do your own homework! It's not mine! Would you like to trade? I've got several pages of coding to do. Have fun with that."   Of course this would be silly, they're probably go trade that off with someone else, never to be seen again. 

In a way it feels just like this; The student will sit down next to you and give all their information. You turn and the page slides in front of you.  You get a blank stare. You can glare back and say, "we don't do this." . It however doesn't seem to have touched them at all, soon enough you're getting poked with a pencil. "Cmon... my essay."      >_>

In reality I've had similar situations, sadly not as cartoon-y. I've had a student come in and ask for a peer review. Sounds normal right? I got half way though and started asking questions. The answer, "I don't know" is kind of a red flag. So I asked more and wouldn't you know it. It was not even her essay!! Her assignment was to peer review the owner of this paper. If I haven't been asking questions I would have done it myself.  I asked her about it and it turns out she that this was my job.  To do what she asked.  For what time remained I scraped my small note page. (She wanted me to write on the essay itself.) Then I walked her though how to peer review another student's paper.

Well that is my small comedic rant. I thought you all would like to see it. I hope it wasn't offensive or seen as complaining. I enjoy being a tutor, I really do =)


  1. Anonymous10:32 AM

    Oh my gosh. That was funny. Not offensive at all. It's interesting Kenyon, as I was reading this I was also watching you tutoring a student about . . . I forget what. But both of you were laughing. You feel comfortable enough (I think, I could be wrong) to express emotion. Something Will and I were talking about earlier was why it was difficult in some situations or for some people to express emotion on their face (those times where you want to smile and try but it doesn't feel right). I don't see that with you. I think an important step in using humor in tutoring is to learn to smile. Weird right? We do it all the time. But sometimes it DOES feel uncomfortable. Wonder why?


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