Friday, August 27, 2010

Stage Fright

I'm excited... and worried! It reminds me a lot of being in a high school play. Those were some of the funnest time of my life, and also the scariest! I worried about lines and cues and costume changes, and that I would mess up and not be able to smoothly cover it up. There was so much to remember! I've never quite gotten rid of the nerves that come with performing either. They seem to creep up in so many situations. So I would be lying if I said I didn't feel nervous about being a tutor!

My main worry is how do I help someone who is a better writer than I am? Or more specifically, how do I help them in an area that I’m weak in? Life seems to throw you in hard situations like that a lot! I hope you’re all willing to help if that happens... when that happens. The selfish reason for why I’m worried is that I don’t want to sound like an utter fool; but the other is that I’d hate to have the student judge the writing center poorly for my failings. To help myself, I think I know of a couple of areas that need reviewing or improvement. Although, I really worry about what I don’t know I don’t know.

I definitely agree that only having about 20 minutes with a student is another worry factor. I'm not a fast reader because I like to be thorough. I like to try to "hear" the voice of the writer as though they were reading to me. Somehow I'm going to have to learn to both read both quickly and thoroughly. (Anyone have any tricks?) Another concern with time is that I’m not going to be able to accomplish what needs to happen in those 20 minutes. I’d feel awful if a student walked away with a feeling they didn’t get anything out of our session.

Then there is the issue that I tend to focus too much on grammar, spelling and punctuation. I'm not the grammar police, but incorrect things like that bother me. I tend to focus too much on mechanics rather than developing themes. This may be a result of my compulsive mind and from having to write several fact laden lab reports. On the other hand, this isn't a huge concern since I know that with a little conscious effort I can focus more on content. I’ll need help though. Again, I’d hate for the student to walk away with no ideas or methods to develop their paper.

In spite of all this worry, I do want to say that I am excited as well! It’s that feeling of wanting to do well with a new opportunity and to do your best. I really want to open myself and help all of you out, too. I promise to talk and be friendly, and not to be too loud or obnoxious! This is going to be exciting; but like the stage, the excitement and fun doesn’t come without some stage fright!

The Mark

In each paragraph and sentence, there becomes a purpose for which the collection of words and emotions were gathered. As I enter into this tutoring arena, my greatest fear becomes that of hesitation, in which I know not, what I will be venturing into, as I sit down with a student and try and help them with their paper. But my hesitation, is more than just the paper, it is gaining a relationship with that person, so that they feel comfortable enough to come back to the Writing Center and know that they are not alone in their trials of trying to survive college.

Upon entering the world of tutors, my hesitation, becomes that of missing the mark. A person's paper, sentence, words, are more than just a blot of ink upon that paper. It becomes their legacy of knowledge, that they learn from and are sharing with a tutor, in that session. Their grade hinges upon their knowledge, gained in the classroom, and their ability to apply it to a document. My job, then becomes that of a student, to learn and help them through their journey. But still the nerves set in.

What if I miss the main point of the assignment? What if I don't allocate the twenty minutes that this student has given me, correctly? What if..? Indeed, these fears and hesitations are only minute in the grand scale of my life, but imagine, what they can do to someone else's life. A kind smile, and helping a person through this difficult time in their life, can mean the difference between success in college and their life taking a different path. The philosophical assumptions that cultivate within my mind, question my involvement with the paper.

Although I may be helping a student with their paper, their paper must remain their own piece of work. How do I know when I cross the line between helping too much and not helping at all. To sit, to listen, to understand, to fathom the extent of their ideas within the universe, all while staying within the bounds of a role I must fill. The condemnation that I must face, should I step outside these ominous bounds, to face the recognition of changing their idea. Thus, my underlying assumption becomes a belief that the idea of the paper holds truth. All that misses the mark is the link, to find the commonality between the thesis of the argument and the assignment of the paper.

All of these ideas flourish into the overarching solution to the psychological warfare that I enter into with myself. It is true, that a person’s fears can overwhelm them, until the solution seems unreachable. However, hope shall overcome the fears, the fear of truth and ideas will help me to help others in their college experience.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Twenty minutes(ish)

My biggest concern about working in the writing center is my ability to manage my time wisely. I have had quite a bit of experience with reviewing papers for friends and peers and I feel that I have been successful thus far but I have never really had a time limit. I didn't think this would be a big issue until the second day of our class when I had only critiqued my way through the first couple paragraphs and we were supposed to be done.

The other area where my concern is high is whether or not I will be able to read and critique a paper with other people talking about papers around me. I think I need to work on my ability to ignore the noise around me and concentrate on what I am reading.

That being said, my excitement completely out-weighs my worries. I cannot wait to get started!

Most Nervous

The thing that I repeatedly feel anxiety about in tutoring is that I will get something wrong or not know the answer to a question and lose my credibility as a tutor with a student. I am strong in areas. I have weaknesses that others I know don't. What if I have a tutee who wants help with aspects of writing that I am weak at? I don't care for the sake of my ego or my reputation, but to me there is a correlation between that credibility and the ability to help the tutees. That's why I'm here.



A Lot of Worries...

Truth be known and told, I actually have quite a few concerns about tutoring in the Writing Lab. The majority of those worries following along the lines of the idea that I will do something wrong and make a lot of mistakes. I worry also that I just won't be able to communicate what I'm trying to say correctly.

I am worried that I will forget an important rule and make some kind of mistake that causes trouble, that is probably my largest concern. I don't want to cause anyone trouble, whether it would be for my fellow tutors and co-workers, a teacher, or the student her/himself. I'm also worried that I won't know the answers to questions. I know I can just ask someone else and look it up, but I just don't want to have to be doing that constantly.

I'm also worried that I'll make a mistake in telling the student to change or fix something and having my suggestion be wrong. I would hate to be the cause of anyone getting a bad grade. Another worry is that I won't be able to explain a concept to a student in a manner that is understandable to him or her. Then on the flip side to explaining something wrong I'm worried that I will actually have explained it well, and then have the student agree with what I said even though they didn't understand any of it. Which leads to a question: how can you tell if the student you are tutoring really understands what you've said if they just agree with everything you have told them?

One smaller worry is that I won't know or understand the material so I won't be able to understand them or help them. I also don't want to offend anyone or hurt anyone's feelings. I'm scared that I may say something I think I have put in nice terms and have it backfire on me.

I'm not worried about having a positive attitude or even about the amount of work I may have to deal with; but I am worried about things like the above. I just want to do the best that I can do and actually be able to help someone. So I want to receive all the training needed to accomplish being a good tutor. I like to help people, so I'm going to give it the best I've got and put forth my best effort even though I have a lot of worries.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Josh's Jitters...

Isn't it strange how something that you would think you would be used to over time can still make you nervous every time it comes around? I play the violin (I promise, it relates...) and quite often I have been asked to perform various solo pieces in a variety of places, and no matter how many times I have performed, those same jitters still seem to creep in. There is an electric feeling of uncertainty that shivers through your spine as you approach the precipice and prepare to make te proverbial leap. It is a leap of faith, and the feeling subsides as you settle into the saddle, and realize how you have prepared, and that no matter what, you are presenting your very best. Regret most often results from having held something back. It is the same way with tutoring; you need to give each student your very best. I suppose that is what worries me... not that I won't do my best, but will my best be good enough? Then again, that is one of the wodnerful things about the writing center. Right next to you is another tutor who can be your spotter. We can work off of each other, if the moment requires, and fill any gap that we might encounter.

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Welcome to the ENGL 3840 blog! Here's your first blog post prompt:

What are you most nervous about with regard to tutoring?