Monday, September 17, 2012

As we talked about in class, I’ve had several tutees come in and ask me to “go over” their papers. They seem to expect help with putting commas in the right places. One 1010 student sat down at a computer to write her literature review, wrote a half of a first sentence, and then asked if the sentence sounded right…she then started on a second sentence and asked if that one was correct... The sentence-by-sentence tutee was my favorite. I pointed out that it can be hard to get to the grocery store if you don’t know where the store is—if you’re trying to find some place, it’s a good idea to do some research before you leave the house. She thought that was a good idea, so we talked a little about what her paper was supposed to be about. Then I asked about the assignment (as it turns out, the paper she was going to write didn’t actually fulfill the requirements of the assignment). We talked through how to connect her ideas to the assignment, then worked on making an outline. Another tutee came in with her assignment on her laptop (no printed copy) and asked for help doing her works cited paper. She wanted me to show her how to put the information into the “Bibliography” tool in Microsoft Word so that Word would spit out the correct citation on her works cited. Yikes. I was caught off guard on that one. I tried opening a book and referencing how to do it but she ignored that. I would say, “Here’s the title, let’s look where put it.” And she would respond, “The title? Okay, it says to put the title in this box…” and then type the title into the computer. I asked an experience tutor to come over and help (I said I wanted to be sure we had the citations correct and I’m still a new tutor). The experienced tutor took one look at the computer and made a great joke about how Word doesn’t know anything but the Writing Center has these great pamphlets right over here that will explain it all very clearly. (I nominate him from Writing Tutor Hero Of the Day) I had another tutee who needed help with the spacing and paragraph functions in Microsoft Word. I wasn’t sure how much time to spend on Word functions, but I showed her that and explained how she could find more instructions online. I don’t feel like that was a good answer. I’ll need to ask someone more experienced how they handle those situations. It’s very helpful to hear how Claire explains things to tutees—or, maybe more accurately, how she doesn’t explain things. I’m green with envy over how she diagnoses a paper and turns the session into what it needs to be without the tutee realizing that she’s just pulled a fast one on them. (Excuse me Claire—and everyone else—I realize that is too casual a description of the enormous experience and understanding that Claire utilizes in order to help tutees see what really matters). I was lucky to observe a session last week in which the tutee came in wanting to know how to organize her paper but over the course of the opening conversation the tutor found out that the tutee didn’t actually have an idea of what she wanted to write. The tutor spent time brainstorming ideas with the pretext of organizing, and gently helped the tutee connect paper-worthy ideas to an outline. I think it’s a matter of being kind and choosing carefully the way I explain how what I see needs work relates to what they want to work on.


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