Monday, September 02, 2013

Patience with Personalities

I think what makes me the most nervous about tutoring is my personality. Although I am a quiet, reserved, and introverted person, I have an extreme Type A personality (that I can thank my mother and grandmother for). I definitely have seen it rear its impatient little head a time or two when I used to tutor high school graduates in chemistry and the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) and college students in math. I think this is why I love to tutor and teach, but I only have an truly immense joy of guiding young children because I know they cannot do things on their own the first time or without my help. It honestly used to drive me crazy when I had to do something step by step with someone or hold someone’s hand to do something when I would have tried to figured it out on my own first before asking for help. And to my dismay, I have found that many tutees will wait until the day of to get their assignment looked over before it is due in less than a few hours; the pressure is turned all the way up under my size six Converses.
During my first semester tutoring as an intern, I encountered this problem almost every other time I had tutored face to face or done an OWL, especially with ENGL 1010 students. It is a nightmare for me because, as someone who is fresh off the boat, if and when I make a mistake or do not catch one of theirs (which I know I have done and will do again), and the paper is due right after they leave me, I will feel extremely bad. Meg and I have similar fears of not knowing everything there is to know about writing and possibly failing our tutee because of this. Many of the tutors before us had the same fears as well - that a tutee will come in, expecting us to sprinkle our magic tutor fairy dust and make it an A+ paper. We are just not capable of that, and I wish that tutees would be empathetic to this truth, not matter how disappointing the truth may be. However, what we are capable of doing is collaborating with the student, so they can improve their writing, and we can find other (or more accurate) resources to support them once they leave the Writing Center to work on their own.
Working in the Writing Center and taking this class has really helped me to learn how to be much more patient when it comes to overcoming my personal fears and being understanding and flexible to those tutees that come to us at the last minute. But, I am strongly aware that I have a lot more to learn. Because I used to be a tutee when I first came to Weber State last year for ENGL 1010 and 2010 and I am now a real tutor (I get paid with money instead of free food), I should be able to be empathetic to both positions.


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