Friday, August 30, 2013

Fear is a Friend

Hello, Blog!

                The assignment for this first blog deals with the issue of the different fears that are associated with tutoring in the Writing Center. Even working there for one semester already, it still scares the bejeebers out of me to sit down with a student and look at his or her academic writing with the intent of improving upon it. That may have something to do with my personality, but I feel that the more practice I get, the better I will become at tutoring other people’s papers.

                Looking back at former tutors’ blogs from their first weeks, I realize that they had many of the same fears that I have, but they seem to have made it out alive, so I have hope for the same. The one main overall fear that I saw over and over from different tutors was that they did not believe that they were qualified to be tutoring their peers. “What if I make a mistake?” “What if I mess up someone’s paper?” “What if they get a bad grade because of ME????” I feel this way too. Sometimes I think “What if people come to Writing Center, they are randomly put under my care, I take care of them the best way I know how, they walk away satisfied, they go to class, get a bad grade, then become severely depressed and kill themselves???!!! Or what if they decide to go on a murderous rampage throughout the campus???!!! Or what if that grade makes them feel like they’re a failure in life and, consequently, they decide to fail their classes for the rest of their life and end up flipping burgers in a burger joint because I couldn’t help them???!!!” So maybe that is overdramatizing the whole incident and turning it into a fictitious nightmare, but maybe my fear is grounded in some sense.

 As some of the previous tutors put forth other fears with tutoring such as being a grammar Nazi, not knowing all of the right answers, or even having computer trouble, I feel for them and have the same fears. If others have experienced the same fears, there must be something to it. One thing that is bothering me, especially in lieu of our class discussion, is that I feel like I will focus too much on each little mistake rather than look at the overall theme and see how each paper develops into a cohesive product. I am afraid I will not praise the student as much as criticize. Why am I afraid?

Telling people that they are wrong is scary for me. I do not like conflict. I am afraid. I think it is alright to be afraid, but not to let that fear control how I approach a tutoring session. I just need to be in control of whatever fears pop up as I take a student into a session. I know I will mess up, guaranteed. However, messing up is how I can learn to be a better tutor. When I make a mistake, that fear may return, but diving back in will allow me to become a stronger tutor and person. Perhaps, in some sort of twisted way, fear is actually a friend.


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