I think the most important role the tutor can play is to really listen to the student and try to understand where they’re coming from with their writing. If you assume a student is going one direction when really they’re trying to go in a different direction neither of you will get anything out of working together. But by listening and allowing the student to talk, you’re also giving them the opportunity to be heard which is usually what writing is all about.
Another thing the tutor can do is ask questions that will help the student come to their own conclusions, while also sliding in subtle hints to improve the work without hijacking it. You have to remember this is their writing, not yours. It's easy to cross that line when you get caught up in the writing because you know the answer, but they will never learn anything if you just do it for them. They may need help coming up with the answers, but they should be the ones finding them.
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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.)
As a frightened freshman, I wandered deep in the bowels of the library basement. My eyes darted from room number to room number, looking for the aid my professor promised I could find. At the end of the hall, a golden light shone from an open doorway. My approach was slow and I lingered on the threshold. All uncertainty vanished when I was greeted with a smile and welcomed into the new world of the Tutoring Center. At the time, I did not know I would spend most of my weekdays in that room as a senior or how mundane this new world would become. How could I? I didn’t even know how much insight I would receive from my tutor that day! Being a learner in the writing center is a wholly different experience than being a tutor, yet I know many of my colleagues have not had the same learning experiences that I have. I think this is unfortunate because there is much that a tutor can gain from being a learner. It was my freshman year of college and everything was new. For me, that meant that fear
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