I am not an organized writer; I am no paragon of efficiency. In fact, this post is materializing as I sit at my girlfriend’s house, crafting one sentence at a time and then backspacing it into oblivion, all while thinking up moves I could make and things I could  say at various points. Meanwhile, my girlfriend types away at her homework, and proceeds to be a rather welcome distraction, and…whoa, I have strayed—perhaps I should have planned this out a little…

Sometimes I feel as if my sessions proceed in a similar way, and it doesn’t help that the writer’s focus (it seems to be grammar, usually) often differs from my own (coherence and cohesion, usually). In most sessions I have had, it seems that the writer does not want to spend much time discussing concepts and rhetoric, desiring instead to have their text fixed and to be on their way.   Though I think I am ultimately able to address their concerns as well as my own  I often feel tossed about in sessions, and I often wonder if we could have accomplished more had we planned the session.

That said, I am unsure of how to approach outlining, as many of the writers with whom I have worked have come to the Student Writing Center having little time to dedicate to their project and wanting to get everything they can out of a single session—I do not think they would appreciate setting aside valuable session time to plan. In addition, my own writing process is one of continual revision and ever-evolving ideas, and while it works well enough for me, I do not think it is ideally suited for one-to-one sessions.

How do you plan your sessions?  What moves do you, as a tutor, make early in the session to determine what will be covered?


  1. Anonymous4:47 PM

    I like to make a plan in the beginning. I ask them what they would like to cover. On my scrap paper I list what they'd like to cover. This gives me a small map or things to look for that will make them happy. 99% of the time they want to look at grammar, but I start writing down things I think should be worked on as well. These notes are small and unclear, that way I can get through the paper without the writer stressing too much. This small map gives me an idea of what to cover since I know I can not cover EVERYTHING. Grammar I find a couple things that repeats or I think is a problem, and then I go down the list. I tend to go with HOCS and LOCS order.

  2. Kamila, NSU7:23 PM

    Hi Jarrod, I agree with Kenyon. I start each session by making a plan of action (2-3 things). Even if the student wants to begin revising/writing/editing right away, I tell them how important it is to have a guide for the next 30-60 minutes. It gives us direction and usually lends itself to a more productive session. Sometimes, we don't get through everything on the list. That's okay, too. It means they can take that plan with them when they leave and complete it on their own. If they need a follow-up session, they can always schedule one.

    Also, I like to have a list of possible things to work on closeby. That way, if a student gives an answer like: "I just want you to tell me if it's good or not," I can respond with: "Why don't we try post-outlining and looking at how you have organized your paragraphs?" I hope this helps. Good luck!

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Jarrod,
    I start each of my sessions by asking the student "what is it that you want to work on today?" As they're answering this question I write down two or three (depending on the length of the session and the points of concerns) things to work on during that session. I use this as a "map" for the rest of our session. I also ask the student to come with at least two questions to every session. If we do not get to finish their "map" then I send it home with them.

  5. Hey Jarrod, as two of my fellow fellows commented on your post, I also start my session with my student by asking "what they want to work on today?" When it comes to creating an outline, I have my students write their outline themselves by pen and paper. Writing out their outlines will encourage and motivate the students to list more and branch out ideas to cover in their paper.
    For me personally, I do write my outlines also on pen and paper. I am more of a visual person and having it written on paper, it allows me to add more or scratch off what I have completed.


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

IWCA Forum: Peer Tutor => What do we call ourselves: the poll!

Are we aiding and abetting fraud?

On Writing as a STEM major