On the surface, the job of a writing tutor is simple. We fix essays for students who need help and offer feedback to assist their future writing. However, this stereotype of tutoring comes from those who have never looked deeper into the relationship between tutor and student. When a student enters the writing center, they are welcoming the tutor into their experience of life. What is written on their paper is sacred. It's their thoughts, emotions, history, and potentially the safest place for them to be who they are. It's a humbling honor to be allowed to enter their world. We journey through their headspace to learn how their mind works. Students expose the deepest part of themselves to us, bravely allowing themselves to be vulnerable. We have the task of looking deeper within ourselves and at our own experiences to form questions that prompt the student to research their own story. If the student is most comfortable expressing who they are on paper, we are responsible for keeping that space safe for them, as well as making a safe space for conversation at our writing centers. Tutors are protectors, guardians for those who need shelter from their reality. We break down the walls of insecurity and maintain a space which generates creativity.
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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
So, I was driving to school today and as always was listening to NPR (that's my self-promoting conversational piece informing you on how intelligent and connected I am) really, I just like the coverage on the campaign and "This American Life." Okay, I am already getting off topic and I haven't even gotten on topic yet. Anyhow, the story I was listening to was about a woman who used to be a part of the admissions committee at Dartmouth and is now working as an independent consultant helping students with the admissions process for schools. For a cool $40,000, she will work with you from 9th grade to graduation to help prepare you for your college admissions process. And for the budget price of $14,000, she will help you write and revise your college application essay. So, how in the world does this correlate to our world? Well, her work with college applications includes helping students decide on effective topics (staying away from "teen angst, or