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Showing posts from 2016

Everyone Loves a Slinky

Recently at the TAMU UWC, we incorporated a new resource into our sessions: toys. In every writing carrel, there is a small box of knick-knacks that are to be used as a sort of visual aid to both the client and consultant. However, their purpose has so far seemed ambiguous, at best. Yes, we had discussed their potential uses in various meetings, but even that was limited to fairly obvious and uninventive approaches.
I personally had no idea what could be done with these tchotchkes, and typically only took one out to fiddle with if I had an extremely simple or independent session. Then one day, quite by accident, I resolved a client’s primary issue with the simple stretch of a slinky.
He was working on a very complex case study, and only had a set amount of pages. Of course, the process he had to detail had a plethora of separate causes and effects, which ended up taking about two pages to describe. He knew this was too much, but was still unsure of how the information should be prese…

Whoops, there it is.

I make mistakes. I make a lot of mistakes, and I make them often. I make mistakes not only in my personal life or in my writing, but when I’m communicating with other people. In the past, I would go red, and do my absolute best to pretend that nothing had happened. I hadn’t totally just butchered the pronunciation of that foreign phrase. It was fine; it was cool; I wasn’t turning the color of a tomato at all. Nope, not me. Now that I’ve lived a couple more years, I find it funny just how silly I was acting. Everyone makes mistakes, and there was really no reason for me to so adamantly ignore what I’d done or said wrong. Instead, I should have tried to work through it.
However, I also work at a writing center. I know that a lot of clients come in expecting me, and my co-workers, to have all the answers and tell them exactly what to say, do, or fix. These students are dependent on me to help them identify and work through the mistakes they are making. It seems to a lot of clients that I …

Vulnerability in Sessions: How Tutors Can Most Effectively Help Anxious Students

While some students who visit the Writing Center are confident and highly motivated, many other students often come in riddled with anxiety. I recently had a consultation at the Texas A&M University Writing Center where the client seemed very uninterested. He didn’t want to read aloud or talk much at all, and it seemed that the session was going to have no direction. As I tried to get him talking, he clued me in on why he was so quiet: it was his first time at the Writing Center, and he felt uncomfortable with the fact that another student was going to read his writing. He told me that he had negative experiences with peer reviews and was hesitant to even come. Thankfully, I was able to relate to him and use positivity to help him open up; it then became a highly successful session!

As a peer tutor, I can sometimes lose focus on the fact that students often come in their most vulnerable states. Letting someone read your writing and offer feedback can be scary and highly uncomforta…

Error 404: Focus Not Found

Sitting idle in that chair that’s comfortable in that sort of ‘office-comfortable, taupe is soothing’ kind of way, in a wash of overhead and computer fluorescence can certainly induce torpidity. It’s more than easy to slip into a “you need a comma here” type tutoring. So, how do we avoid this debilitating complacency during an online-session-heavy workday? Forcing yourself to be more deliberate with your explanations and questions can definitely help avoid falling into that sentence-level-editing rut, because it will also make you more self-aware of what you are doing in the session. Explain to your client how you read their paper, what you were looking for, and why you said what you said. If you don’t explain this, the client may have many still unanswered questions. If you can’t explain this, you don’t understand what you are doing yourself, and are obviously not fully engaged.
Personally, I find online sessions to be my most successful sessions, precisely for their allowance of clos…

My Favorite Student is the Uninterested Student

My favorite student is the uninterested student. I enjoy the students that slink into the Writing Studio, more attention on their phones than the people around them, looking for the tutor that will hopefully fill out a session report form with little to no interaction. I love them! Why? It’s simple; they give me a sense of accomplishment.
I had a student come in the other day with a less-than enthused attitude. I was covering the student’s appointment because another tutor was out sick. Upon entering the studio, she became aware that her scheduled Writing Fellow was out. Her words: “Oh, awesome! I have other things to do anyway, so if someone could just fill out the report for me… that’s all I need!” Inside, I was a little surprised. These were the responses I more often received the first couple of semesters the studio was open; by this time, most students utilized Writing Fellow assistance and saw the benefit of an extra pair of eyes. I assumed this was her first time. It was.  
I en…