Wednesday, September 21, 2011

So Many Posts... So Very Many Posts...

Was I the only one who thought this survey paper was going to be the final straw that triggered their impending aneurysm? No? Just me, then? Well, anyway, I did, but it's actually been exponentially more helpful than I'd anticipated. I'm shocked at how many previous tutors shared a lot of the same anxieties and problems at work that I've experienced. The glorious part is that many of them have provided helpful little tips to deal with problems. There was a tutor some years ago who was having problems with lazy or uninterested students and he noticed that his marks were scrawled all over the page but the student had neither spoken nor written a note for nearly ten minutes. The same thing happened to me three times yesterday! When this would happen, the tutor would simply set his pen down, thereby making the student feel more inclined to mark the draft himself. INGENIOUS! It was reassuring to read through the first posts of new tutors at the beginning of each year, and harvest a little empathy from the past. It's been nice to know that I'm not the only person to have worked in the Writing Center that was afraid that they'd make a simple mistake (such as those we were hired to correct) and loose all credibility with the student and fellow tutors. That was a surprisingly common theme. Nobody wants to look like an illiterate nit when their being paid to be just the opposite... and yet...

Several of the motifs throughout the posts were very relevant to the sessions I’d worked on moments before I’d read them. One reoccurring problem I observed was distinguishing the boundary between correcting syntax and sabotaging the student’s style and voice. I’ve been struggling with this concept throughout the week. I worked with a narrative paper wherein the speaker recollected her time in a psychiatric ward, and her quirky manner of phrasing wasn’t exactly “correct” by the rigid standards of the literary bureaucracy, but served the subject matter of the paper immensely. I helped her rephrase it, because I wanted to play it safe, but I effectively hindered her voice as a writer. I’ve been very interested to see the evolution of the Writing Center. I read a few posts wherein the tutors discussed how strange it was to work with drop-ins, as apposed to students who they saw regularly throughout the week and who signed up to be specifically tutored by them. In my last few shifts, I've been averaging twelve to fifteen sessions a day, all of which are drop-ins. I've only tutored one student more than once.

But most importantly! Why am I always talking? Evidently, in years past, it was rare that the tutor recited the paper; now I read papers out loud all day for nine hours straight and my voice is gone before the sun goes down. I vote we reinstate the paradigm where the students do all the talking. Anybody with me?


Post a Comment

<< Home