Saturday, December 10, 2005

i might have bent the rules a little

I have been a nice tutor, a good tutor, a follow-the-rules tutor. I read the first six chapters of the tutoring handbook before class even started for the semester. I applied what I knew to do in my first tutoring session, according to the book. I was a faithful tutorpal who only changed my tutoring for the "better" when I learned I was doing something "wrong", (like with ESL students). I was a faithful soldier in the Writing Center Tutorcats Army. I supported the instructors, the complainers, the nicees, the downtrodden. I was a beacon of hope to those who were bogged down and up to their nostrils in overwhelming writing assignments. I was a tutor freak, (you know, like a super freak) and I was balancing my artistic world with my psychotic world. I was in the "Flow".

Until about mid to late semester. I got involved in more of my own boggyness and tried to remember bootcamp, where I had been learning tactics and methods for the front lines of tutoring, but to no avail. I felt even more doomed when a great 8-10 page (which turned out to be more like 14) bomb dropped overhead right on the home front. That is when I lost my balance, and with my rippling tutorpal muscles, I bent the rules.

I was sitting at a table with a fine young man who needed some support with an assignment. He had been getting terrible grades on his papers for English 1010 (D's to be exact) and he came in for some peer review support. He was not in the mood to write nor did he like writing. Every suggestion I made he said something like, "UHH, OHh HuH", or "Hmmph". He nodded his head, expressed his writing inability with shruggery and stretched a lot. I knew I was dealing with one of the worst kinds of writing casualties. He had never even been in combat. I knew what the answer was before I asked him, "Did you read very much growing up?" Finally he admitted that he was defeated before he even got started. He hated reading and avoided it as much as possible. He knew he couldn't write, now we knew the cause and I began to work on the cure. As I shared some simple writing techniques and rules with him, he began to see some things he needed to change in his paper. I prodded him along, trying to get some new words, some rephrases, but he racked every last bit of his brain with no results. His brain was starving and had no words to share. I did what any good Tutorcat soldier would do in this situation; I gave the words to him. As I told him what to say (and wrote it for him) and explained why he needed to do it, his brain began to regain some word strength and soon he was able to see what kinds of changes would improve his paper. I sent him on his way with a few bandages and a scribbled up draft paper. I think he'll be fine. I told him to read and he replied, "I'll add that to my New Year's resolution list". We both knew he had no intention of opening a book on his own accord.

But I feel that I did a good thing. My judgement may have cost my rank but I don't care. It was do or die and I did. He was preserved for another time and maybe he will read some day because I fed his mind long enough to get him to a book.

Friday, December 09, 2005

Nerds pummeled in football melee

To be honest, I may have tutored outside the box each time. If not outside, I certainly was not inside. Perhaps I'm a borderline case. Right now, however, everything is fuzzy in my memory (still trying to catch up on sleep) and I can't remember that many specific instances when I broke the rules. It's often said of rules (perhaps I've already soapboxed it): they should be broken if it can be done effectively. If they're unbreakable, bend them.

I suppose what I did most was rely on my instincts, keeping all the essays and class discussions close to my heart in case I needed to fall back on something that actually made sense. I also relied heavily on my peers and I thank you all for your support.

Even in the most difficult sessions at the Writing Center, I never had a bad time. I loved the difficult sessions. They rattled the autistic tendencies out of me and kept me sharp. I loved the free candy and the memento I stole from the Writing Center. Don't worry, you'll get it back and it's not the stapler. But here's a hint: it's soft, yet keeps me big and strong.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

A Last and, oh yeah . . .Some Broken Rules

Well, I've thrilled to be able to say: we've made it! I don't know if all of you experience this at the end of a hard fought battle with a paper; that great release in casting it into the Professors hands as if giving away a hideous disease or a revolting insect of some kind. It's almost like saying to the world: hey! It's your problem now. It's out of my hands now. Anyway, it felt great to be done with that paper to say the least.

Now to get to business: breaking rules. A skill I'm far too familiar with. For me--someone who is very obsessive--going off the broken path comes with some stress and dilema for me. It was ironic, however, that we should talk about this topic today, because I found myself being both more aware of the rules I was breaking and also being more willing to break them.

This afternoon, I met with a fellow who requested help in generating ideas for a major paper that is due tomorrow (I definitely know what he's doing right now. Well, at least what he ought to be doing.). Try as I might, he kept telling me that, in so many words, he couldn't write, and he had a block on his thoughts that kept him from generating good ideas. I got quite frustrated with him because I kept telling him to not worry about the fine tuning aspects of revision right then, but that he should just focus on producing material that could be revised.

Well, after a half hour of this I decided I needed to push him along by making a bit of an outline for him. Of course, the moment I started making it for him--even for as simple of one has I drew up for him--sirens were going off all over the place. Well, I ended up only writing three words for him and out of that came an hour long discussion of ways of developing the paper. All because of those three words.

And I don't know for sure if I was really helpful for the poor fellow, but I felt good about the session. And just as this illustrates an instance in which breaking a rule paid great dividends, I'm sure all of you have had similar rewarding experiences.

This has been a challenging semester in a number of ways. I've had to work very hard to keep my grades up, to get paper written, and reading assignments read, but I will be forever changed in wonderful ways, by the great experiences I've had with each of you. You are all such exceptionally talented, bright, and kind individuals. I feel truly honored to have this opportunity to associate with you and blessed to call you friends. I look forward to many more positive experiences with you in future semesters. Good luck, my friends, with everything, and Happy Holidays!

Breaking the Law, Breaking the Law

As I said today in class, feel free to tell some stories here about how you've tutored outside the box and why. If I don't see you all before, have a happy holiday.

No kidding--- You say I got talent?

In all honesty, I didn't think that I would get this job. I mean--- I really, really wanted it, but I didn't think I was talented enough. The interview process didn't go as nicely as I thought that it would. I thought that I bombed it, but I guess I didn't because here I am. It took a long time to hear back that the Writing Center. (But anything you are really waiting for can seem like a LONG time, even if it is just a couple minutes waiting in line.) I thought that maybe they decided they didn't want to hire me and was thinking up the best way possible to let me down. My brother-in-law and I even talked about ways I could approach the Writing Center and ask what I did poorly in the interview and ask what I could do better for future job interviews. Luckily, I didn't have to go and ask why I didn't qualify. Although, sometimes I think, especially in hard sessions, that the Writing Center hired the wrong person. Maybe they got me mixed up with the other blonde giggly girl who applied.

I can't really remember what I was thinking when I applied for the job, except that I knew that I needed to apply. It just seemed right. It made sense.

My best friend told me that I would make a fun writing tutor when we saw a flier advertising to be a tutor in the SS building together. I laughed and then applied even though I didn't expect to make it. Sometimes I set my heart on things I want to do and just get disapointed because my talents fall short from what is needed. ---Like when I tried out for a special choir, or ran for studen body office in high school or applied for finacial aide... or when I took the English AP test--- all of which I tried my hardest, and put my heart and soul into, but didn't make it.

I don't know if my best friend was right by saying that I would make a fun tutor--- I don't know if I am fun, but I have a great time tutoring. I love it. I didn't realize how much I would like it. I mean, some days are better than others; it isn't peachy pie everyday, but it's those good sessions that I know I helped someone improve their writing, at least a little bit, that makes me want to come back for more.

Maybe they didn't hire the wrong person. Maybe Claire and Dr. Rogers saw through my nervousness at the interview and could see the love I have for writing in my eyes. If they didn't see my talent, maybe they at leas saw my potential. Either way, I got the job I wanted and I love it. Everyone is so great!--- the tutees, the other tutors, Clarie, Dr. Rogers... Everyone is awesome! I didn't know someone could make so many friends so fast. I am gonna miss everyone and tutoring over the holiday break.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Why the cell phone student recurs . . .

Today, I left the Institute building at 1:53 PM so I could show up to work by two. I opened the first set of doors and walked through without any incident. I paused to zip my coat up all the way because it's dang cold (if none of you have noticed) and then started to open the second set of doors and walk through.

Except that my exit did not go so smoothly. A crowd of people were entering the building through the door next to it, and one of the girls waiting stuck out her foot in front of the door I was opening -- causing the door to rebound back into my face and bending my glasses. When I looked up to see who the foot had belonged to, who do you think I saw?

The cell phone student! I kid you not. She made a snide comment about how I should learn to walk through doors or something to that effect. It made me fume.

I'm still fuming.

But I'll admit -- it makes for a good story.