Friday, September 20, 2013

Expectations (Blog Three)

For the most part I've had positive experiences with students, in which we both enter with pretty level expectations as to what my role was in the tutoring process. I generally set the boundaries as the tutor from the beginning of the session to the end. In one case in particular, however, I had a student step outside of the general framework of the session, requesting that I go over all errors, AND THEN help him complete the "compare and contrast" portion of his assignment.

I explained to him what we do as tutors -- that our role was to assist students in the development of their writing process, not fix students problems for them and send them on their way. He took this well, so it appeared, and then attempted to disguise his previous request. "I need you to help me in fixing all the small issues," he explained, "for my development." I didn't see any reason to argue with him, so I just continued on with the session, consciously limiting my efforts to that which I deemed appropriate.

Identifying trends in his grammar issues, particularly with his misuse of prepositions and failure to maintain either past or present tense, I did my best to show him his own trends, so that he would learn from the experience, rather than just take what I fixed and turn it in without reflection. As we went through the piece further along, I stopped correcting the tense issues for him, and would linger over them briefly as I was reading the piece, until he would pick up on the problem. He began to see it himself without me breaking even for a second, which was rewarding for me, because I saw that he was actually getting it, and relatively immediate to following my instruction.

Before finishing his piece, I began to question him a bit more about his thesis, as I had felt his paper began to leave the track, so to speak. He informed me that he just needed to turn it in, and that he wouldn't have time to look back at the thesis. "I just need to fix all the errors," he said, growing impatient. I explained to him that I hadn't fixed all of the errors in the piece, and that I had emphasized a few points on which to improve, and that fixing all of the issues with the paper would not be conducive to his learning in the long run.

He acted frustrated, questioning me, as if not to believe that I hadn't fixed every grammatical single issue in the paper. He told me he needed to go fix the mistakes we had made, and left in something of a hurry, which was fine with me because we had already been almost fifty-minutes deep into the session.

Although he may have felt somewhat frustrated by the boundaries I did impose as a tutor, I stand by my decision, and I am optimistic that he will be all the more cognizant of the aspects of his writing I did emphasize in our session.


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