Saturday, September 09, 2006


"Caesar is not above grammarians." ( Cassius Dio)
Honestly, I'm a little intimidated by the grammar editing portion of this job. That said, here's the why: I simply don't know it all. I know some things, I know enough to get by, but picking out minute grammatical errors in other people's papers isn't something that I've done before. I'm not too worried about it though, I think I just need to brush up a little bit.
Well...I thought that "grammar" was actually going to be my subject of fear, but appearently I'm not as worried about it as I thought I was. I still like the title though, and if anyone else is worried about grammar we can start a help group. Once we have the help group we could maybe...I don't know...kidnap some of those kids who were "more likely to spend the whole tutoring session on run-on sentances than global issues," and get them to instill us with some of their fervor. But I digress...
Anyway, I think that the "scariest" situation that I've run across so far was that student looking for help editing a professional resume. I have only written up my own resume maybe once or twice, the idea of messing with someone elses when it really matters didn't really sit well with me. Cover letters are another thing that I'm not really comfortable with yet, but those two shouldn't be too hard to master either... I hope... With time... Maybe.
Luckily I haven't had a student yet who was convinced that their paper was perfect, though I've kinda been in that situation myself with some of my personal writing, and if you haven't had alot of it, it really can be hard to accept criticism. So I do sympathize with those individuals. It's egocentric I know, but I still get a little bristled every now and again if I don't get the kind of positive feedback I want, so I can see where they're coming from.
Hmm, what else...All of my paragraphs are pretty much the same size...huh...that's thinking's a little choppy I guess...huh.....Anywho. I suppose my central fear is that I'm not going to be able to provide the student with what they need, or that I'm going to "fail" them in some way if I don't find every single comma splice in their final work. I'm worried that they're not going to get everything that they need from me, and I can't do that. I know what the major problems with most papers are going to be, and I can educate myself on those things that I don't feel so confident about. Maybe Bobby Sue (Bobby Sue is my phantom tutor for the purposes of this excercise,) is better at writing thesis statements than me. Okay. I'll do what I can.
I actually do feel a little relieved after writing this. I know that it's more than a little sketchy, but I do feel some comfort on these subjects after writing this. Huzzah. I'd feel like Dr. Phil, if Dr. Phil went into self-therapy..... I hope this is long enough.

Over and Out,
Andie Kunzler

Essays, what a process!

In tenth grade I had a world history teacher named...oh lets call him Mr. X. Since then I have had very mixed feelings about this man. On one hand I am somewhat grateful I had him as a teacher, and on the other I have sort of a grudge toward him. One part of the grudge comes from the fact that I had inadvertently told the man that he wasn't a very good teacher. Let me explain. As a young, innocent sophomore I never meant to insult him but rather seek his advice. Whlie inquiring about a difficult class I would be taking in next year I may have mentioned that I was a bit too smart for his class, and I definitely needed something more challenging. In return he took this as an insult.

Anyway, (Oops) I have gotten beside the point. The reason I am grateful for Mr. X is because he was the first person that demonstrated an essay to me. He taught my class exactly how to write a five paragraph essay, down to the last detail. Now this lesson was indeed very good, but it was also very bad. If you’ve ever had a high school teacher teach you how to write a five paragraph essay, then you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Mr. X taught us the basics: thesis statement (which I really didn’t know what one was), three supporting sentences, three paragraphs for your supporting sentences, and lastly, as a conclusion, your written, word-for-word introduction. Here’s where the real gudge comes in. This first process that I learned is so mechanical that it took an extraordinary amount of energy to learn how to get out of it.

It wasn’t until twelfth grade that I started to understand how an essay really works. I took Composition and Literature with a Mr. Hansen. Hansen was a wee bit of a weird guy but very intellectual. He taught me how to get out of the mechanics of an essay. He taught me how to incorporate literature, thoughts, and ideas into my own ideas. He taught me what it meant to support an idea! He definitely taught me a lot, but one thing that I was still shaky on before I entered college, and yes I’m going to say it, was the “flow” of an essay. I had my ideas, they were somewhat supported, and my essays weren’t exactly mechanical, but the whole paper really didn’t seem to fit together just right.

This is where my last mentor comes in. For English 2010 I had Dr. Hogge. He’s the one that really pieced everything together for me. He really helped me to understand the whole writing process, including preparation, which I had really never done before. My intro was complete, my body paragraphs, which were now full, concrete paragraphs, connected back and elaborated on my thesis, and my conclusion created a sense of finality, not a door for more information. My essays finally flowed! Also, the citations I made in my essays were there for a purpose: to emphasize, back up, and elaborate my own ideas and create new ideas. At this point I finally felt good about my writing. So, if you see Dr. Hogge in the halls, then give him a pat on the back and tell him thanks for me. But if you ever happen to see Mr. X, um…..nevermind.

Ode to a crappy title

I suppose I’ll follow Derek’s lead and introduce myself. I’m Jacie, and while I don’t have a satanic creature of any kind… I am owned by a 100 lb., 8 month old giant black fur ball who affectionately goes by Ronan. Do have pictures people, and am more than willing to share! Well, anyway, it’s best to get off this subject before I continue on with it for pages upon pages. An act which might fill up my required length, but would be of no real use to anyone but me and my love of my puppy.

Now I’ll commence with the question we’re asked to cover; what makes us nervous as tutors. Well, being completely honest a lot scares me about it. Every time someone comes in with a paper I worry that I won’t catch everything and they’ll be upset with the writing center tutors for their grade. Logically I know that this isn’t a sound fear, after all without a tutor they would have received a worse grade. Added to the fact that it isn’t our jobs to give them grades, but to build them up to becoming more proficient writers overall. Still, I worry that something I won’t catch will reflect badly on Claire and the Writing Center. This causes me to get sick butterfly’s in my stomach every time someone walks in and I know its my turn to present the entire center. It only takes a couple seconds after having begun interacting with the tutee before that goes away, but it’s strikingly similar to stage fright.

I also often find myself comparing my writing skills and corrective actions to everyone else. It gets worse if I know that the currant tutee has worked with one of the other amazing tutors that I happen to be lucky enough to work with. Kelly, Chris, Tyler, Katie, ANY of them outshine me so much that having a student say they’ve had a paper looked at by them before makes me nervous. I find myself thinking that they’ll have liked a particular approach one of the other tutors used better, or they just liked someone else’s bubbly personality more. It may just be me, but that’s a daunting fact to face, knowing that your being compared to so many very good people. I guess the only real way I can fight this is to keep watching the other tutors and absorbing their styles. Just like Dr. Rogers suggested. Even the new tutors! So that means if I annoy you by leaning over your shoulder or something, don’t hate me! I’m just trying to steal some good material from you. I love seeing someone do or say something that I’ve never thought of before. Its like a little light bulb goes off, my perfect ‘ah hah’ moment, and I wonder why I never thought of doing something like that before. You guys are such freaking geniuses, honestly! I don’t know how you come up with some of the things you do, but it provides me with no end of amazement and entertainment.

Well…now that I feel completely embarrassed by divulging my deepest darkest secrets to everyone that I DIDN’T want to know them. I suppose I’ll say farewell until next time.

some of my teachers

I can’t say that I learned how to write from any one teacher. Throughout my academic career I have had several influential teachers who have helped my writing, and in doing so helped me with my academic career as a whole. I feel that I am just starting to see what I can accomplish through writing.

When I was in tenth grade my history teacher, Mrs. Butters, assigned a five paragraph essay every week! At the time I hated her for it because it was hard! No longer was I required to fill out the ordinary worksheets of junior high and elementary; I was now forced to write. I would bad mouth her to every classmate I knew because of it. In retrospect, she was one of my favorite teachers in high school even though I hated her assignments. She was a teacher that didn’t dumb down her curriculum, and this experience formed a writing base for me.

In that same year my tenth grade English teacher didn't assign me one writing assignment! The class was composed of career development, movie watching, and presentations. To make matters worse, the class was out of control. I remember three girls who would loudly talk throughout class. One of the girls routinely brought her curling iron into class and did her hair! Our Prozac induced instructor was powerless to stop these three. This class gave me the impression that English was useless.

Despite my initial views of English being useless, I came to appreciate writing. In my senior year of high school I was blessed with the most influential English teacher I have had. She assigned hard writing assignments, and had individual conferences with each student to improve their writing. She would only accept the best writing, and she prepared me for college writing.

In my freshman year of college professor Rigby helped me by taking a personal interest in my work. After I had completed every assignment I would take it to her to help me improve on my writing. This showed me the importance of the revision process. Up until this point I had revised drafts, but it was fixing grammar and not helping my writing. I learned that good writing comes from work.

In addition to showing me the revision process, professor Rigby gave me my first A in college. This is significant because the fall semester before I had her I was questioning my academic abilities and if college was right for me. This A gave me the reassurance that I can succeed in college so long as I work hard. The revising process gave me the template of hard work to help me succeed in college.

I have tried to employ this template in my English classes, and Dr. Allred’s was no different. His class helped me to enjoy writing for the sake of writing. Up until my sophomore year in college, I had never written anything that wasn’t assigned. By talking to Dr. Allred in and out of class, I began to be inspired write on my own. This writing has helped me to discover who I am and where I want to go in my life.

In retrospect, I have had many different people who have taught me how to write. However, I’m still learning, and I don’t claim to know how to write well. I don't know if I’ll ever be a master at writing, but I do appreciate the growth process of writing. I've had multiple influences on my writing, and I will continue to have influences. I am grateful for the great teachers I have had in the past, and I look forward to the wonderful ones of the future.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

A Dangerous Mind Can Equal That of a Backward Clam

I think what I’m most concerned about is disappointing my tutee and fellow tutors. A lot of this stems from the fact I am, if I can be allowed to write this without hubris, rather smart and something of a good writer- but dotty. Dotty to an almost unimaginable degree and this can be attested to by any of my kith or kin. So often, not from a lack of knowledge or understanding of the task at hand by my own personality failings, I may end up doing or saying something rather ridiculous. And by ridiculous I don’t mean the good sort of comic ridiculous but rather the kind where anyone else present or involved will heave a sigh, roll the eyes, and throw their hands into the air helplessly.
So, now that I’m working in such a demanding field I don’t want to fall into those old failings because there are many people now who might be depending on my actions. I’d feel terrible if someone walked away saying that a tutoring session was a total waste of time or something similar. I also know that this will most likely happen so I have that feeling of a v-shaped depression looming overhead ready to drop.
In the end though I suppose the best that can be done with such a situation is to act within the best of my abilities and try and assimilate as much information as possible while trying to curb that fear of falling sort of the ideal. I suppose this is where all the team effort lectures come in too as it is a group effort through individuals, or something like that, so if I should take one in the neck from said v-shaped depression there are many other individuals to help out.

Dr. Rogers is reminiscing about Galactix right now

I took a class on fiction writing once in which students proof-read and graded each other’s stories. The way it worked was each student would turn in his or her story, then the prof would take the pile of stories and plop them down on one of the unoccupied front desks (there was more than a few) and then each of us little budding authors would retrieve a classmate’s story and begin our critique. The criteria for grading was ambiguous and almost entirely subjective; the end result was that each student would eventually get their story back with several conflicting statements from anonymous individuals concerning quality, writing style, ingenuity, grammar, and flow. It was frustrating. It was not helpful at all. As a tutor, I want to, above all, avoid afflicting any tutee with this kind of discouraging experience.
Anyway, I’m sure I’d be a lot more nervous about my first, rapidly-approaching, tutoring session, but I’m already so busy I haven’t had time for my customary fretting and fussing. If I was organized, I would be able to schedule a good half-an-hour of worry a day just to get my self good and worked up. As it is, it’s probably all building up somewhere in my unconscious and will release itself suddenly when that first unsuspecting tutee walks in the door. It’s a good thing psychological services is write across the hall, eh? He, he... yea.... I’m sure it won’t be that bad... Well. I’m pretty sure.... Well, at least I hope it won’t be that bad.
Well, anyway, good luck, everyone. Remember, all that is at stake is another person’s self-confidence. As for my self-confidence... well, all I can say is, thank God for the supportive natures of Dr. Roger and Claire. Tell me honestly, who needs more positive encouragement do you think: the tutees or the tutors?

The Tutee and Me!

Alright, I finally got all the square pegs firmly fastened into the round holes and I'm ready to move on. I am not sure exactly what to say at this time but I'll try to try. I do have to say that it is nice to be in school again. I have been twiddling my thumbs for too long this summer and let's face it, how long can you twirl your thumbs? Well, the answer for me is, three months.

I actually had my first tutoring session the other day and it wasn't as bad as I thought. The student that I helped was more nervous than anyone. Even though we have only been in the class for a week, I felt confident that I could help. We sat down and began reading the paper. Her solace was overwhelming at first but she started to feel a little more comfortable as time went by. I do have to admit, I started feeling at ease as well. She was a young girl straight out of high school who wasn't sure what she got herself into with this whole college thing. It's funny how perceptive body language can be. She really didn't have to say much to tell that she didn't have a clue about what to do. I didn't tell her this, but neither did I. I found myself digging through questions and answers that I have learned in the last two weeks. 'What is the most important concept to cover?' 'Will I be able to do it in the time frame that we have?' The funny thing was, while I was pondering these questions I already started reading her paper. Everything just kind of fell into place after that. I was able to focus on helping and she relaxed. We made it through the dreaded first tutoring session together, the tutee and me. We said our thank-yous/goodbyes, and went on our seperate ways.

I don't know if she will be back and say how her paper went or if she will ever remember that I helped her. But I do know that I won't forget. It was a first and that doesn't happen often enough for me. Hopefully I can change that this semester and experience many more firsts. After all, it has only began.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Why Do I Do This To Myself?

Well, isn’t this whole thing just a perfect example of what a masochist I am? To me, writing is the most painful, stressful, time-consuming (I put a ridiculous amount of time into my papers, and it seems even more ridiculous when I see the finished product), and plain difficult thing academically. And now I will stress not only over my own papers but other people’s, too?!

At the same time, I love it. Do I love it? Well, maybe it isn’t love… Because what is love? But it is a need. The best way to explain this is by example. If I write, there is a mixture of misery and satisfaction; if I don’t write then there’s only misery. I don’t mean total misery- I am a pretty happy person- but there is a constant gnawing need for self-expression that is best met through writing something, anything.

I am a BELIEVER in many benefits, and, actually, absolute necessity, of self-expression. I meet people every day who have beautiful thoughts and ideas. If I could only be of service, in the smallest of ways, in helping them share a bit of themselves with the world through their writing, or help them achieve that satisfaction one has after expressing themselves adequately – or get a better grade on their paper- that would make my day.

But what if I steer them wrong? What if I can’t answer their questions? What if I say something stupid and, even if only for a split second, make them feel insulted or mocked? And, worst of all, I am a FOREIGNER!!! There are probably many mistakes in this very blog! And all those things I say about feeling as comfortable in English as I do in Russian don’t not mean that I feel a 100% confident tutoring either one.

I am terrified and anxious. But I am also so excited! Tutoring can be very meaningful and very positive for everyone involved. I know because I speak from my experience as a tutee. And to be a part of this process in a new role will be great, I just know it.

So, all things considered, I am looking forward to developing my love-hate relationship with writing in this new sphere. There will be challenges, and the first one of them is overcoming the fears. But, at this point, to quote Alanis Morissette, “the only way out is through.” And it is a good thing!

Monday, September 04, 2006


Hi all. As promised, I've placed a handout describing how to post to blogger in the handouts section of the course website.