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 enough for this to only happen twice, but it still affected me as deeply as some of my inspirational sessions.
A valuable lesson I’ve learned is that in each thirty minute session, there is only so much a writing tutor can do. If the student and the writing tutor give equal efforts, the session is productive. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that not all students come to the studio prepared and not all students think the same way as me . During sessions when a student’s efforts are lacking, I’ve always made up whatever they were missing, so that the lack of work did not reflect my own work ethic. The lesson learned is this: I am not responsible for their shortcomings . There’s a difference between inspiring ideas and inspiring dependence. Once you give a student their missing efforts, you develop poor work habits within them. I’ve noticed that future sessions with the same student result in me doing more than them, and I’m at fault for this. The work I do here is not completely mine, and I’ve had to learn and understand that to get better at my job and to develop positive writing attributes within students.
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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.)
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