PeerCentered is a space for peer writing tutors/consultants or anyone interested in collaborative learning in writing centers to blog with their colleagues from around the world. Bloggers here will share their ideas, experiences, or insight. To contribute to the blog, please contact Clint.Gardner@slcc.edu.
REFLECTION: The role of the tutor in helping with writing.
For me the role of a tutor is one
who helps the student with what they are having trouble with. The student is
coming to the tutor for help. The tutor should know more than the student, that’s
why they are a tutor. The tutor should be able to recognize the problems within
the problem, if it’s math, or in the case of English the tutor should be able
to see where the piece needs work; whether its grammar errors, punctuation or
they should just be able to answer the student’s questions. If the student
feels that their piece is too wordy the tutor should give suggestion as to
where the piece could use some cutting back.
The tutor can show the student what
they might not be able to see. This can help the student learn about how they
write. If they struggle with grammar errors the tutor can show them the errors
and how to fix them. It should be a learning experience for the student and the
tutor. It should not be more work for the tutor by the tutor doing it
themselves. It can be easier to just take over but the student is not learning.
Let me use myself as an example.
I have had good and bad experiences
with tutors. I admit I am terrible at math. I am an English major for a reason.
I was very happy when I found out that my school had a math lab with tutors. I
spent most of my first semesters of college in the math lab. I was there so
much I should have paid rent. I would have never gotten through those math
classes without a tutor to help me. I didn’t want to be great at math; I just
wanted to understand how the problems worked and how to do them on my own
without a tutor.
The not so good experiences came
from the tutors who ran through the problems assuming that I would just understand
and “get it.” It didn’t happen for me. Part of the reason I am not so good at
math is due to my dyslexia. I tend to see numbers backwards when they are written
down (27 becomes 72) and when the tutor rushed through the steps of the problem
I became more confused. I felt like some tutors were getting impatient with me
when I didn’t understand it after they did it for me.
I understood the problems and how
to do them more when the tutor took the time to help me and walk me through it.
They didn’t seem rushed to help another student and I felt better doing the work.
I became very happy when one tutor got excited with me when I finally
understood it. I still don’t understand a lot of math but due to some awesome
tutors I have remembered what they helped me with and it has helped me pass a
pre-requisite class and I am finally moving on in this subject.
As a tutor we should help the
student feel the same way; that they are moving on in their writing. We should
focus on the positive more than the negative. If a student brings in a piece of
work and it looks like the most horrible thing the tutor has ever seen, they
should give the positive first and the negative second AND they should end the
meeting on a positive note. Have the student feel good about what they wrote
and better about their writing style. In turn we as the tutor will feel better
about what we were able to teach them and it will make us feel better about the
work we are doing as the tutor.
Image from shaggybevo.com. The Far Side, Gary Larsen No copyright intended.
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.)
Dear me… As a junior in college, you were just trying your best and going through the motions (like everyone else) . You wanted to fit in and emulate what you thought a typical college student should look like. Then, along came the opportunity to become a w riting c onsultant. That’s immediately when the fear started, I began questioning myself and my own personal writing. I was unsure how I, a typical college student, would have enough skills to help others. How would I manage being insecure with myself when I was supposed to be someone my peers looked to find their own confidence? When it came to your first day of work, you were sitting in the writing lab waiting for your learner to show up with anxiety pouring out of your body. It was probably the most anxious you ever got in your life - aside from applying to college in the first place. You were so excited to meet your colleagues, yet so nervous that you were going to disappoint them. Thoughts streamed through your head
So, I was driving to school today and as always was listening to NPR (that's my self-promoting conversational piece informing you on how intelligent and connected I am) really, I just like the coverage on the campaign and "This American Life." Okay, I am already getting off topic and I haven't even gotten on topic yet. Anyhow, the story I was listening to was about a woman who used to be a part of the admissions committee at Dartmouth and is now working as an independent consultant helping students with the admissions process for schools. For a cool $40,000, she will work with you from 9th grade to graduation to help prepare you for your college admissions process. And for the budget price of $14,000, she will help you write and revise your college application essay. So, how in the world does this correlate to our world? Well, her work with college applications includes helping students decide on effective topics (staying away from "teen angst, or