Saturday, September 08, 2012

I'd Rather Correct His Spelling. . .

I suppose I'm not surprised that most of the students of present and past are most nervous about being asked something they don't have an answer for, or working with a student who knows more than they do.  I think it's natural and probably even healthy to fear that.  It provides good motivation for those strong enough to push aside the fear and do it anyway! (i.e. all of us)

As for me, that particular sting isn't quite so sharp.  I have some tutoring experience already, which helps.  More relevantly, I provided tech support for two years for the biggest pain-in-the-butt software ever devised by man--and for people who had college degrees in the stuff I was helping them with, no less!  So I already know, and I'm here to tell you: It's ok to ask for help when you aren't confident that the answer you're giving is the best one available.  It may even help the students not feel so afraid of you!

(Of course, it's easy to say this when I'm sitting at home plunking away on the keyboard.  In practice, I'm sure I'll be every bit as scared of knowing diddly as anyone else here.)

What I'm really afraid of is another tutor hearing me make a mistake.  For some reason, "Oops!" is much worse in front of someone who's not asking for my help.  I figure I can barter assistance for forgiveness if the tutee tries to hold it against me. (In all actuality, my experiences with people in need have been overwhelmingly positive.  I trust them to look past minor mistakes.)

I guess it shows how much I respect you guys that I'm afraid of that.  And then there's the Master Tutors!  I'm going to ask Claire to establish a "10 yards from Dwight at all times" rule.  Or I'll bring a fending stick.
My worst fear, though, is that a tutee will present me with a challenging paper and, in frustration, I'll spend the entire session correcting his spelling, grammar, and punctuation.  I'm afraid I'll cover his paper with insignificant little marks that won't actually help him the way that I want to help him.  I'm afraid I'll sabotage my own efforts as a tutor because I'm afraid of a challenge.  I'm afraid I'll prove to be lazy when tutees are counting on me to not be.

These fears can be overcome through practice.  I'll only know for sure that I don't need to fear them anymore once I've proven that they're irrational.  Ultimately, it's up to me to prove that, not by discovering that they're not true, but by choosing to not let them be true.  I think I can do it.

What the. . .?  I just realized that writing about this stuff made it not seem so scary any more.  It's almost as though someone planned this.


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