At the beginning of the week, when I first introduced myself to the peers I’d be training with, the first “fun fact” I revealed about myself is that I am shy. I clung to that shyness and never really wanted to dig too deep too soon. I was sharing, but there was limit imposed by my own usual uncertainties and insecurities.
It’s amazing how much can change in three days. During the final training session, it was very clear how far I had come along in letting go of my inhibitions, and how much my peers and I had bonded. These strangers were suddenly my allies, and I was sharing much more than I would have ever anticipated. We all reached much deeper understandings of each other and ourselves because of our newfound willingness to share without fear and to open ourselves up emotionally and intellectually to experiences other than our own.
I realized this simple process of opening up creates the tone and environment that is a critical part of successful tutoring. If both parties involved are willing to open up in order to unearth the fundamental components their own strengths, weaknesses, work practices, tendencies, and even histories, they will be able to overcome any academic obstacles as a team. Becoming a team involves digging deeper than what many have come to understand as the typical tutor-student relationship, and this training period at the Learning Studio gave me the brilliant change in perspective needed to make that possible.
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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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