Friday, October 21, 2005

I think I may be an idiot

So I've been here for three years and I still can't do onlines well, still have to look up grammer rules, and I can't think of what else but I'm sure that isn't all.
Does a tutor get to the point where they know all the answers?
Should I be replacing my bible with the Writers Reference?

To answer myself.....No I don't think that a tutor gets to the point where they know all the answers. I don't think that even Claire has all the answers.

As for me being bad at onlines, I think onlines are ineffective in the first place. No one can ever be a effective tutor when their tutee isn't present. If they can't ask you to explain what you mean when they don't understand what your suggesting, of course they aren't going to end up with the right corrections. You many never know if you were effective unless you see the finished product (One which I which I was unfortunately shown the other day). Just because other coworkers think that your online looks good doesn't mean that it is going to be effective. I propose getting rid of the online submissions. Perhaps we could have a live online chat session if we have to do things online at all.

Looking up grammer rules should not make me feel like a bad tutor. If you don't look things up, thats when you are a bad tutor.

Sorry all my transitions to this submission suck; well, to be more correct, they are nonexistant.

Coming to work is hard some days. Tutees can be challenging in many ways. Occasionally I will get someone who I just click with. Some of you might remember Suki, an ESL student who used to come in all the time. She was one of those tutees that you want to keep all to yourself. She was so appreciative. Its for tutees like that that I keep coming back to work. Unfortuneately she doesn't come in anymore, so I am still waiting for a replacement. Just make the best of working with tutees that you may want to box.

On a totally seperate note, everyone come to the Halloween Party next Friday! Bring some games! Yay Writing Center! Bring Food! Get paid to eat it!

ok, bad news. My spell checker isn't working so there might be some problems hahaha
Good luck reading.

What is that Greg?

So I looked up pseudobushia hugiflora in the dictionary because I was purplexed. It doesn't exist as a word according to Jeeves. So what the heck is it?
As for having a jam session with a tutee. Never happened. I faintly remember doing it with other tutors though.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Loaded-gun complex

This semester, by far, has been the most difficult for me than any other semester I have attended at Weber. As I take on more responsibilities like publicity for the Writing Center, another job, cub scouts, and of course my WIFE, I have very little time to focus on my schooling. I wish I had more time.
As most of you know, I recently wrote a letter to The Signpost to thank you all for everything you do. Though I wrote this letter in fulfilling my responsibilities in the publicity committee, I meant every word.
I also would like to thank Scott for being such an awesome teacher. Seeing as writing is used in every discipline, I have been able to apply the knowledge and techniques he gave me from the 3840 class in other classes I have taken. One exercise has proven extremely useful. As I recall, in the class we were to read chapters from the book or other academic articles and write up a review that consisted of three things: a summary of the article, an analysis, and a description of how it could be applied to another article we had studied in the class. I am now in the process of writing a literature review for my research methods class, and I have found that this exercise has helped me immensely.
So I guess I am just saying that you all (and I'm sure you all do anyway) should take this class very seriously. Besides helping you become better tutors, it will help you become better students.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005


If you haven't already, take a break from blogging this week. Maybe spend some time looking at the Flickr camera toss group (set the camera for a long exposure, set the timer, toss in the air and see what kind of picture it takes).

Or maybe turn the pages of some of the greatest books in the British Library.

Or maybe look at a mosquito under an electron microscope.

Or maybe learn how to make a quill pen.

At any rate, have a good break.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Just a warning...

Okay--- so I'm tutoring. The student has asked me a question and I am answering it the best that I can. Let's say that the student has asked me about run-on sentences. His or her teacher said to watch out for them. The student would like to know what they are before we dive into the paper. This way, he or she can look for run-ons and together we can talk about them. I begin answering the question when all of a sudden... "RING! RING! RING!"... "HELLOOO???!!!"

Grrrrrrrr.... This hasn't happened to me---yet. It hasn't in this fashion anyway. I have had students answer their phone before the session begins while I am sliding their card; they quickly handle the phone call, apologize and the session goes on without an interruption. I understand that things come up--- life, accidents, surprises--- but if I am expected to hold off on my homework, my life, my everything else that I may be thinking or needing to do so I can help the student with his or her paper, isn't it only fair for me to expect the student to at least--- not just pay attention--- but be respectful in the same manner? I guarantee that if I had a cell phone it would never go off in a session. When a cell phone goes off it can and does convey the message that whatever was going on before, like, let's say a tutoring session, is not important anymore.

So just a warning: I don't think I will like cell phones going off when I am tutoring. It is distracting, rude and unprofessional! Trust me, I'll be the first to say "grrr" when a phone goes off when I think that it shouldn't. Just know that my "grrr" is a warning. I don't want to get into a heated debate with anyone; I hate arguing. I feel strongly about this subject and I have high opinions about it. I just hope that when a tutee's phone goes off while I am tutoring, that he or she will quickly turn it off and NEVER let it happen again.

Is that a pseudobushia hugiflora?

My ideal case of "defensive minimalism" would be if a student started to tap a beat with his foot and so I began to bob my head. Then he starts playing the air drums and then I'm like playing the air guitar and then we both have an air jam session that's all wicked bad! And I'm sure Chris would totally jump in with the air upright bass and we'd all play some wicked bad fake music.

I've not tried this "defensive minimalism". I suspect it is a method used more by the seasoned tutors. I do not see myself using this method until I've established myself as an adept tutor who feels cushy in the Writing Center. Once I'm that confident, then perhaps I will implement this method on and off.

In the meantime, I'm continuing with my own experiments in engaging reluctant writers. One method we've discussed before that I think really helps is to have a friendly conversation with the student. Whether it is indirectly related to their paper, or completely unrelated, I feel this can establish a good rapport with the student, ease the tension between the two of us, and change the student's disposition towards tutors altogether. Though I may not help a student much in that session, he may have changed his attitude a little towards writing or the Writing Center. I suppose that's what you all like to call "little victories" or "small successes".

I really do believe that a good way to engage a reluctant writer is to disassociate myself as any kind of authority figure. I want for a short while to just become this student's partner and have us collaborate on ideas. I've had many sessions so far like this and I believe those students walked away with a good feeling about the writing center and the impression that we are students just like them and understand the process that they are going through.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Is Slouching So Bad?

I despise rude people. All of them should be locked away and forced to listen to torturous hours of Mrs. Manners' columns (or is it Mrs. Manners's columns? Hmmm.) until they finally agree to be polite to the rest of the world.

An interesting fact about rude people that I learned recently: they thrive on making people be rude to them in return. If a rude person can make you be rude back, then they have won. It's a competition to them. "If I don't break them and they keep their cool, they win," a rude person thinks. "But if they lose it, then I win."

I hate to admit it, but I have a couple of friends who think like this. (I'm not talking about anybody in this class, so stop wondering if I'm referring to you. I'm not.) These are the people you do not want to "minimalist tutor." Because if they make a tutor stoop to their level, they think they have won.

To use a sports analogy: the best offense is a good defense. (Take note of this moment in history because the likelihood of a sports analogy appearing in any of the rest of my blogs is very slim.) If the student delights in being rude, be so perky that they want to cause you bodily harm. Once you slouch, you have admitted defeat. Once you stop talking so much, they begin to assume you are not doing your job. Once you set your pen down, that rude student has vowed never to enter the writing center again because we as tutors are incompetent and we are apathetic and we are rude. It's not that minimalist tutoring never works. It just doesn't work well with rude people.

An old high school friend sat by me at church today. Since we are old friends and he already knows my personality, I figured I could experiment on him. He did not sit straight for any of the meetings we attended together and I felt as though I was continually looking down my nose at him when we spoke. It made me feel snobby.

So I slouched.

And he smiled.

And all of a sudden, I stopped feeling like a snob.

Minimalist tutoring is a tricky technique because it is similar to another practice all of us hate: mimicry. The object of mimicry is to portray its victim by means of a distorted reflection. Mimicry is specifically designed to magnify the traits of some hapless person so the mimickers can feel as though they are better than their victims. Minimalist tutoring is designed to do the opposite: to set aside the magnifying glass and to understand the student a little bit better.

After all, students don't always back off and slouch because they're rude. Some of them are discouraged. Some of them are confused. Some of them are stuck. You never know -- these people may actually smile when you back off.