Monday, December 05, 2011

Wow, we’re at the end. To me this occasion invokes those immortal words from They Might Be Giants: Now it’s over, I’m dead and I haven’t done anything that I want. Or I’m still alive and there’s nothing I want to do. There was a lot I still wanted to accomplish this semester as a tutor. In no particular order:

·         I was hoping by now to feel like I have a firm grasp of all the composition concepts students would encounter and be able to explain them to tutees. Hasn’t happened yet.

·         I was hoping to find a way to use tutees’ learning styles to help them understand and enjoy writing.

·         I wanted to ride Devin’s bike down the hallway and wave to her while she was in the middle of a session.

·         I wanted to find a quick, easy way to explain to ESL students when to use “the” in front of a noun. There doesn’t appear to be one. You can try the old “if you’re referring to something specific, like ‘Texas’s economy,’ you don’t need the, but if it’s more abstract, like ‘the economy,’ then you use the,” but there’s too many exceptions and I’m sick of lying to sweet, trusting, foreign students.

·         I was hoping for an explanation as to why articles aren’t considered part of speech. How can “the” “a” and “an” not be part of speech? Nearly every sentence contains those words. Far more than some of the other “parts.” Holy schnikies—like interjections!
On the other hand, part of me is glad tutoring is over for this semester. I find I have no mental energy left after tutoring and there are a lot of other things I want to work on. It will be nice to have time and energy for my own work.

That having been said, I’m going to miss tutoring. I enjoy the interaction and the challenge of helping a student who may not like writing see what it is all about and realize they are more capable than they give themselves credit for. In addition, I’ve also learned quite a bit.
I agree with Brooke about students needing to have a clear idea of what the paper is about. At the beginning of every session I ask the student what type of paper they are working on. Maybe 20% have a clear idea. The rest aren’t sure and seem a little surprised that I would even ask the question, as though they hadn’t thought about it. To wit, the infamous Bio Med papers. I tutored about 20 of those things. I asked every single student what type of paper it was. Not one of them answered with “Lit Review.” Some thought it was a persuasive paper, others thought it was research—one even treated it like creative non-fiction. The blame isn’t all on the professors, because students don’t always pay attention. I feel some of the professors can be a little more clear when it comes to papers, however.


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