After a day spent reflecting on creating a space where diversity is respected, encouraged and celebrated in the learning studio I continually find myself returning to the individual experience. Throughout the day my writing tutor peers and I shared our own reflections on racism both generally and within the context of the education system in which we are working. While we had varied, fresh perspectives on many points there were also many moments of commonality between us, especially in the value we place in these conversations and the importance of creating this environment in our roles as tutors.
For me, one contributes to creating a safe space for diversity by knowing your ‘stuff’– all the ideas, values, thoughts, beliefs, assumptions and hidden biases that have come to compose who you are as an individual. It’s about bringing awareness to how these things act as a lens through which you see the world so that, when need be, you can find another lens through which to look. By proceeding with that self-awareness in one hand and a heavy dose of openness and curiosity in the other I think a space can be created in the Learning Studio that feels safe and inclusive for our students and peers. By having the courage and honesty to bring your authentic self into relationship you invite the same from those you connect with. If we can bring these relational qualities of openness, curiosity, and acceptance into our work as writing tutors then we can help our students to use their creativity and amazingly unique perspectives as assets in their communication and writing.
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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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