Friday, September 07, 2012

Crossing Swords with Fear Itself

 Biggest fears, huh? Where to start...?
How about a good ol' fashioned 

Big Fear #1: Being a self-esteem killer

I came into this tutoring job a slasher.

I promise that only sounds bad. When editing anything, I wield my red pen holding nothing back. I'm not a mean slasher; I try to give constructive criticism. I tend to live by the creed:


So I guess you could say I'm somewhat of a masochist, but really I just want my work to be good. As good as I can possibly make it. So I tend to offer everything I got to others, and sometimes I wonder if I'm being too harsh. I have good intentions, but does the student really see that? Or do they see a murderer? 

It seems a little melodramatic, but it's pretty accurate of how I feel. Turns out the whole theme of the Writing Center is to work with people, not papers. Being a slasher entails focusing on the paper, where being a tutor is all about nudging the student in the right direction. I'm pretty sure I can do it--I mean I grasp the concept; I have have a plan to execute it, but will it translate? Will the student feel like I'm being too harsh, even when I feel like I'm being waay too easy?

Big Fear #2: "This sentence is wonky"

I operate on instinct. If I read a sentence, I can tell if there is something wrong with it, but I cannot tell you why. I don't know the comma rules. I don't know what a dangling modifier is. I am definitely one of those "This sentence is wonky" types of people. I can't tell you why it's wrong, I can just feel it in my bones.

I'm hoping that knowing something is "wonky" doesn't take away my credibility as a tutor. I guess I'm under the impression that students expect me to be able spout technical terms out of my eyeballs, and the thought of trying to cram all of those terms into my brain sounds impossible. Even scary. I want to be able to help people with their writing, but it seems like I would have to back myself up with all that stuff. People in the Writing Center keep telling me it will come, and I sure hope they are right.

Big Fear #3: Am I good enough?

So far, I haven't had the chance to tutor yet. I've observed two sessions, trying to glean as much information as I possibly could from each one. The variety of work that comes in to be looked at worries me a little. My next big fear is based in the inability to meet the needs of the students. What if I give them the wrong answer? What if I, myself, don't understand their assignment? What if I'm not a good enough writer to meet the challenges of each student?

I don't know why I'm doubting my ability--I mean, I have to have some type of talent/skill in order to have been selected for the position. It might have something to do with my comfort zone. Who knows? My personal goal as a tutor is to have every student walk out of my sessions feeling enlightened and like they learned something, possibly even possessing more confidence in their writing ability than before. I'm worried I won't have what it takes to get these students where they need to be.

I'm hoping as the semester carries on, I'll be able to replace these fears with confidence. Thus far, the professors and Master Tutors have all been super helpful  and supportive of all the newbies. And don't think that just because these fears exist, I still won't try my best. I'm going to go above and beyond my best, hiding all these insecurities in the Pit of Despair and stepping up to the plate to be the best tutor I can be. :)


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