Monday, November 04, 2013

Now is the Essay of Our Discontent...(Blog 10)

I believe I discussed this particular student in either a previous blog post or a response/reflection paper. However, she is the one student that sticks out in my mind as having been reluctant and resistant to the tutoring process. 

The student, who shall remain nameless, was in English 955 and required to attend tutoring at least twice for the essay assignment on Night by Elie Wiesel. The first visit required by the instructor was for a brainstorming session in which the student would talk through topics and potential theses with a tutor before deciding on the direction of his or her paper. She brought in her packet of prompts and was quite fixated on the one prompt she wanted to address.

Usually, a student with this much gusto would be impressive but this particular girl was aggressive towards me when I asked her questions about why she chose this prompt and how the novel connected to the questions given by the instructor in the prompt itself. As I began asking her what sections of the novel she would reference as textual support, she began to shut down. As tutor training taught me, I took a step back from the session and asked her if she was alright. She proceeded to angrily explain that she hated tutoring and the process of writing this paper was counter to her preferred style. Where the professor was implementing a very linear approach to writing (e.g. brainstorming, researching, outlining, drafting, etc.), she observed a more amorphous approach where she engaged in free writing until her thesis revealed itself. Therefore, the required brainstorming session irritated her because she felt forced to decide on a thesis/topic before she really knew what she wanted to explore within the prompt.

While I engage in the linear approach to writing, I can understand the frustration from feeling forced to write in a style that is not your own. As this was much earlier in the semester, I was not fully prepared to engage a student with this level of reluctance. She stated very plainly that she did not want to come to the Writing Center and she would rather spend her time doing more productive tasks. I admit I did not handle the situation with the agility of a seasoned tutor. I explained to her that we are here to aid students in the college writing process which typically involves the linear approach outlined by her professor. After explaining to me her view on tutoring, I attempted to reengage her in the tutoring session to no avail. She quietly sat through the session, answered questions with little detail or explanation, and requested her brown slip. I admit I felt quite defeated after the session but needed to remind myself that she likely felt the same way if not worse.

I have not seen this girl since that one day in the writing center. However, I hope that the second required session lifted her writing confidence and enabled her to see the benefits of tutoring and other Writing Center services. While I have yet to encounter another student with her level of resistance, I feel that I am now better equipped to deal with these types of students in the future. 


Blogger A.K. Packer said...

If someone is actively disengaged and hostile, they aren't going to learn, no matter how seasoned, skilled, or even downright magical a tutor / teacher may be. I'm like you. I make my point, try to win the student over, then slog through the session as best we can. And some days, that is the best work a student or teacher can do.

7:46 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home