Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Blog 13: Tutoring Advice

As far as advice for the next batch of tutors, I would tell them mainly to be flexible. The skills and abilities taught in the tutor training class are important, and in many ways invaluable, but they are in no way all encompassing. There will always be situations for which a tutor will feel unprepared. This is not a time to panic. In fact, I have found that these are the moments that helped me to grow as a tutor. When dealing with unfamiliar, mindboggling tutoring issues, the tutor is forced to reflect on how he or she handled the situation. For good or bad, this is an excellent learning opportunity.

Next, I would advise new tutors to give themselves breaks. This semester I learned that tutoring can wear a person out both mentally and physically. Tutors must remember that, as students, they need to give themselves time to both recuperate and study for their own classes. We may feel like super heroes, at times, but we need to give ourselves time to relax, or we will get burned out pretty quickly.

I would also encourage the new tutors to enjoy the unique opportunity they have to correspond with students across the curriculum. For those of us who have completed our generals, we tend to see the same people within our majors no matter the class we are in. As tutors, we are able to develop friendships with students and coworkers who are not associated with our field of study. The most enjoyable papers I read this semester were not from English students. Instead, I was intrigued by papers written by zoology majors, geography majors, and students of the physical and life sciences. I was able to learn things that may not have been available to me otherwise, and likewise, I was able to impart some special knowledge to these students and help them to improve their writing in their field.

This leads me to my next, and final, piece of advice. New tutors need not be afraid of the “difficult” subjects. When I first started tutoring at the beginning of the semester, I was terrified of upper division papers. It was daunting, having to tutor a student who was years ahead of me in their academic career. But, as the semester progressed, I realized that I did have the knowledge and ability to provide meaningful feedback to students from unfamiliar fields of study who were writing advanced, lengthy papers. It was from these experiences that I learned the most about myself as a tutor as I was able to challenge my knowledge.  


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