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Showing posts from April, 2015

Reciprocal Effort

When I first began my work at Nova Southeastern’s Writing Fellows Program, I immediately felt close to most of my students, and they have felt close to me. This has made me more eager to help them, and made them more eager to learn while they’re in class or in the studio. Productive sessions are the most rewarding part of my job, especially when students come back again and tell me how well they did and then they immediately want to begin working on their next assignment. Their intention of doing well is inspiring, and I can’t help but take this inspiration outside of the studio into my everyday life. Being close with students can also mean that their troubling sessions stay with me outside of the studio as well. When I have a troubling session with a student, where ideas don’t come smoothly, or the student is overwhelmed and shut down, I feel that I am inadequate and I also take this feeling into my everyday life, the same way I do during a productive session. I’ve been fortunate enou…

Getting from Point to Point During Times of High Traffic

Whenever I go into a tutoring session, I like to open up the thirty minute slot that I give students with a friendly introduction and a brief preface  of how tutoring at the writing center works. I’ll usually follow this up with asking them their purpose for being at the writing center. I am fortunate enough to never really have monotony in answers, as the students that I work with have a wide spectrum of concerns in their assignments, even if I happen to work with nothing but students from a single class for an entire shift at work. However, I notice that students aren’t always exactly clear with how they want me to help them, especially when we, as tutors, get into the busier parts of the semester. For the most part, days at the writing center don’t often get crowded, and the student to tutor ratio isn’t overwhelming. When times at the workplace are as such, it’s not as stressful, and you can often get a full and enriching experience with students. Lately, the front l…
Bring it BackReturn to PrewritingBy Ashley Freeman
“Welcome to the studio! You’re still working on the research project, right? What can I help you with today?” “I don’t really know. I just feel like I have too much to do and no time to do it. Can you look at what I have so far?”            “I can, but I’d rather you tell me what’s making you uncomfortable about the assignment first.”            “But, I don’t know what it is.”            What is one to do when a session begins this way? How do you handle it? Do you silently agree and take a look at the student’s paper, or are you persistent in getting some sort of answer out of them? When is it time to stop asking and turn to something else? Do you really want to read and judge their paper without setting some sort of goal for the session? These all seem like unanswerable questions, even though all of my fellow tutors reading them are silently answering them in their heads yet avoiding the “comment” button.            Some of us may tre…
Does anyone actually hate writing?
“I hate writing.”
Usually that’s the opening phrase used during sessions with difficult students. Right away, they mention their dislike for writing, as though the simple statement will get them out of having to go through with the session. They don’t realize that they can say they hate writing all they want, but that doesn't change the fact that they’re still scheduled for a session which means regardless of their feelings, the session will continue. Difficult students may come in with that attitude in place, but there are ways to change that attitude. It’s good to remember to not let that comment get in the way of the session, especially if it’s their opening line. I take that information in and let them know that they don’t have to love it, but it’s not as bad as they think it is. One of the strategies I've used with these students is to avoid going straight into having them write. We still talk about their paper and any questions or commen…

Working with ESL Students

I am relatively new to being a writing tutor and have found some things more challenging than others.  One of these includes working with English as a Second Language students. Just last week, I had an ESL student come in saying, "I'm just stopping by before my class to get help with my grammar. I know it’s bad, and I also want to make sure my thesis is good." He proceeded to explain the paper and thesis to me. I was immediately able to tell that his thesis did not appropriately encompass the essay, but he was very unreceptive to this feedback and insisted that the paper be read so I could better understand.  
After he worked through his eight page paper, I still felt the same about the thesis and my attention was brought to some other higher order issues such as the organization and focus.  At this point, with the limited time we had left, his response to my prior advice, and his original requests, I began to question how I should proceed with the appointment. If you eve…

Tutor positioning: Another brief thought

Looking through the previous posts, and based on my training I know that sitting side-by-side with my client provides important nonverbal information about our relationship. We are peers and I am not an authority figure. While this is true, there is another reason why side-by-side works, and it is purely a practical one. While people are often capable of reading upside-down, it is more difficult and less comfortable. I think tutors would be more apt to miss important corrections from this position, but turning the paper so that it faces away from its author implies that the tutor has taken total control of the work, which of course is the opposite of what we want.
So how do we convince our clients that side-by-side is necessary? Most times students will choose the across the table position and look askance at a tutor who comes alongside. Well, we could explain all the reasons why side-by-side is better – it implies equality, the tutor is not in control of the paper, etc., but that w…