Sunday, November 03, 2013

The Resistance

Hello, blog!
One of the topics in class this week was "reluctant students." Most tutees are really good at coming in and being polite about getting peer tutoring. They know that it will help them become better writers. Ironically, this week, which was the week we talked about reluctant students, was a week in which I had two openly reluctant students.

The first was a male ESL student. He came in with his paper and we sat down. He said someone already looked over the first part, so we started in the middle. As we began to read through, I made marks and circles and dots on his paper. When we went back to look at the things I marked, I tried to explain why, but he was very aggressive in his manner of inserting himself into the conversation and wanted things done his way. If I made a suggestion, he just shook his head and said what he had written was fine and he did not want to change it. It is really hard to compromise with a student that does not want to change his work to help him get better at writing, especially an ESL student. My reaction to this out-and-out resistance to change was to keep going through the paper. Eventually, he seemed to come around and he changed the places that I told him needed work, but at that point he had taken himself out of the paper and just did what I said. He no longer wanted any involvement in the paper. He did not want to learn.

The second instance of a reluctant student that I had this week was a student that came in and the first thing out of his mouth was “I just need to come in here for a brown slip.” The second thing out of his mouth was “My paper is finished. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it.” I explained to him that we should look over his paper to make sure. As I began to read, I truly did only find a few problems, but his whole attitude was really negative the entire time. He slouched and acted disinterested. At one point he accidentally shot his pen across the table, but it was because he was deliberately slamming his hand down and acting disinterested. Whenever I wanted to explain a pattern of error, he said that he already knew about it. Few sessions irk me as much as that one did. Because Matt had said in class that sometimes it is good to address the issue directly, I bluntly told him about his negative attitude throughout the session and asked him why his professor made him come into the Writing Center. His first answer was the brown slip, but then he thought about it for a second and told me that he also thought it was because it is good for someone to look at his work and get a second opinion so that he could become a better writer. Bingo. I felt like I seemed rude by being so direct, but it did make him think about why he was there.

Neither of my reactions to reluctant students was very good. It is hard to tutor students that do not want to be in the Writing Center and think that we are the enemy. They think they are better than we are. The truth is that we are students too and we need others to look over our writing too. None of us are perfect in our writing abilities, not even professors at the top of their fields. I only hope that I can convey that to the tutees that I work with and let them know that I just want to help them become better writers.   


Blogger A.K. Packer said...

Handling negative people can be difficult. It sounds like you did the best you could do with these two students. There are no guaranteed methods of dealing with difficult situations, we do the best we can and let the student be responsible for his or her own learning.

7:38 PM  

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