Monday, September 09, 2013

First Session Awkwardness

My first tutor session was with an ESL student, which was interesting. I wasn’t expecting to be given such a difficult assignment as my first session, but I was also excited to begin tutoring. The assignment was for her to write a basic introduction about herself, so there wasn’t much work in way of correcting organization and structure. So, I had the opportunity to get into grammar and syntax. I found it interesting to see how she used the English language. Some of the words she chose to use weren’t exactly incorrect, but they were not how a native English speaker would construct sentences. So, we worked on that. It was an eye opening experience, and it was a good learning opportunity.

As far as preparedness goes, I was not. We had spent a lot of time in class discussing the basic English 1010 paper. I was expecting to go into a situation where I would be looking for a thesis, and making sure all of her supporting points corresponded with her thesis. Instead, I was looking at one paragraph with no real thesis (except for, maybe, the student’s intention to introduce herself) and no need for organization consistent with an academic paper. This threw me off, and it took a second for me to adjust.

Preparedness is one thing, but how did I feel? Was I scared? A little bit. I was more nervous (which is a form of fear, I think) but I was also excited, as I’ve said, to begin tutoring. The nervousness, however, didn’t pass as the session went on. I was second guessing myself, wondering if I was actually giving good advice. I was also unsure if I was telling the student things she already knew. She wasn’t very engaged in the session, and I was worried that it was my fault. At the end, I asked her if the session had been productive, and she assured me that it had, but I was still unsure. Since this experience, I have felt better about my role as a tutor. I think I have been able to more accurately pin-point a student’s needs and address them. This, I think, stems from my first frightening experience.

All in all, my first session was a happy occasion (looking back). Yes, I was nervous, and yes, the session may not have been as productive as it could have been. But, I was able to adjust from there. I was able to view some of my weaknesses and begin tearing down my personal barriers. I’m learning how to manage a session, how to take the lead and not let a student’s anxieties pass onto me. And, while I’m still not comfortable with certain sessions, I am finding that I am able to take the 2010 student more easily, because my confidence is growing. I feel that all of these successes, no matter how small, are a result of my first, semi-awkward, tutoring session.


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