Wednesday, November 30, 2011


Tutoring has given me a lot of insight about what I want to do as a teacher:

1. Be very, very, very clear about the directions and expectations of assignments. Many students who come into the writing center feel that they don’t fully understand the assignment. While some students catch on quite quickly, it seems that many are unclear about what to do or how to do it—it doesn’t matter if the assignment is a summarization or an analysis. These problems arise because students are fairly new to academic writing, because they don’t pay attention during class, and because some students are anxious about asking their professors for clarification both in and outside of class. They are responsible for making sure they understand assignments but I want to avoid as much confusion as possible and be clear when explaining requirements.

2. Provide a basic overview of writing principles at the beginning of each semester and review what constitutes a thesis statement, the purpose of topic sentences and what they should include, and how to properly incorporate quotes (with introductions and explanations). It is amazing how many students—those in lower division and upper division courses—are unfamiliar with these basic principles of writing.

3. Show students how to look up formatting information and basic grammar conventions in the handbooks or online so that they can learn how to answer some of their own questions rather than just guessing.

4. Require papers to be formatted in line with standard style guides. It is amazing the number of problems that arise because teachers have their own quirky preferences. This makes writing a guessing game and does not help students learn the generally accepted ways of formatting. It also makes it so that they can’t look up the proper way to do something which can be quite frustrating for students.

5. Be approachable. Students sometimes ask questions in tutoring sessions that really can only be answered by the professor. While I can give general suggestions about how I would approach the situation, the professor would have a better idea since it is their class. I don’t know why students don’t discuss these questions with their professors—maybe they don’t want to seem ignorant, maybe they have a hard time reaching the professor, or maybe they just don’t feel comfortable. Either way, I want to let students know that I will be available to help.

6. Try to make personal connections with the students. Tutoring sessions and workshops are always more enjoyable when there is a good relationship.


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