Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Blog 11 Mediating Hostility

            I have not yet felt personally assaulted or offended by a tutee, but I tend not to associate myself too deeply with many ideals, so there isn’t much that can insult me in terms of writing. And I tend to readdress the tutoring session for the tutees who are irritated when I have used a method of explanation or teaching that does not work for them. Between these two practices and the mellow attitude most people tend to attribute to me, I have very little trouble with tutees.
            There have been cases where I find certain prejudicial currents, obvious and subtle, running through a paper. This tends to spark a certain hostility inside of me, but I always try to address it diplomatically and question the foundations of such assertions, generalizations, and discrimination. There is something about prejudice that sparks a certain anger inside me, but in cases where I can subdue it and convert it into Socratic energy, a thorough look at the source of the prejudice is probably a much better way to scourge a problem such as this.
            To speak more specifically about a situation where I maybe wasn’t quite as Socratic and contained as I’d like to have been, there was a case where a student was occasionally making fun of a disabled student also in the writing center. On the first occurrence, the student, luckily, was wearing headphones, and although some part of me wanted to smack the tutee on the back of their head, I simply ignored what they said and moved on with the session, figuring they might catch a subtle hint. Too subtle? I guess so; the second time she attempted making fun I must have ended up giving the tutee a fairly disgusted look. I didn’t intend to give the student the look, but in that moment I was just thinking about how the tutee was acting in front of me, why they were acting like this before me; I was contemplating their sick sense of humor and how it has lasted this long, how it had endured so many years, how she didn’t question her own thoughts before they left her mouth, how she even seemed to endorse them with so much pride, the audacity with which she spoke; I was wondering how this sort of thing happens, and then I was thinking about how I would rather be working with the disabled student on their work, and I felt that the disabled student was superior in every regard, a pride for him began boiling; In this moment I wondered why the tutee thought I would share this commonality with her; I wondered why she didn’t have the same queasy look in her eyes as I did; I wondered about the irony of the whole thing, the validation she expected of me and the actual feelings it created and the entire reversal of my disposition toward the nice tutee I had met only ten minutes ago. I assume that all of that emotion showed through my gaze when I looked at her, and I truly hope it had some final effect. At any rate, the tutee caught the less subtle hint the second time around.
            There have been a number of other cases where students have taken standpoints on issues I had never previously considered because they were somehow prejudicial. I have read two papers about the morality of body modification, both of which took the position that it was immoral. I was fine with this approach but not with that fact that they supported their claims with fallacious assertions. I challenged both writers to offer more evidence for their decision and more straightforward reasoning as to how they reached their conclusions. Both of these sessions turned out particularly well, although I don’t know what they finally decided in each case. When playing devil’s advocate with someone whose views I am adamantly and even vehemently opposed with, my goal is to destabilize their view and let them reason their next on their own.

            These may have been the most hostile situation that I have encountered, but, from my work in customer service, I know that I have many more to come. I hope to respond diplomatically and to keep my emotions as removed from the situation as possible in all future events. I feel comfortable with this and know that I am fully supported by the Writing Center in all of these scenarios.

Blog 9

            My experiences in both ENGL 1010 and ENGL 2010 were great experiences. I took both courses consecutively during my first two semesters here at Weber State University. Being my first semester, I didn’t know what to expect from college and university. I thought that it might be a challenge; I hoped that it might be a challenge. I was ready to take on a course load, and I was ready to begin learning. High school was over, and I wanted to break my old habits and challenge myself. My first English course here at Weber State was one of the most challenging courses I have ever taken.
            My professor was fairly new to the University, and she made clear on the first day that her class would not be an easy A. I felt ready to accept that challenge. The course was filled with reading and writing; the load of work was great but doable. The real incentive that made the work worthwhile was the class discussion. The class was focused around Fairy Tales which has never been my largest interest, but the evaluation of the literature is something I had never really experienced before; it really caught my attention.
            The writing was focused around the critical analysis and evaluation of the literature which allowed me to express so many thoughts I typically had discounted previously. It felt critical, analytical, and creative simultaneously; it was incredibly fun. And the professor spent a good deal of time evaluating what I wrote. Each paper that was returned had been thoroughly read, torn apart, and analyzed. This feedback was great; it was often times very harsh criticism, but it never felt hurtful; I was learning about the evaluation of literature. It was probably the first time I began to really start engaging with the literature I was reading.
            The next class I took 2010 during my second year here at Weber State. Interestingly, it was very contrary to the class I had taken the year before. The teacher spent class time discussing random things with us; we were assigned two major papers, one 7-10 page paper and one 17-20 page paper. We had assigned readings of creative research papers, but they were rather minimal compared to the previous class. I had mixed feelings; some days, I felt cheated; some days, I felt that it was a breeze; I was grateful to have a class that wasn’t demanding all of my time. On most days, I felt like I was getting a lot out of the class. I was introduced to research papers of which I had not previously read many, and I had a lot of the time to work on the two major assignments.
            This is really where I started to realize how powerful independent learning really is. Sure, a professor who has only two big assignments with two big but tentative relaxed due dates seems to prod students’ need to structure, but it is necessary for students to recognize, at some point, the need for the knowledge they are receiving. The professor asked us often, “[If you had the opportunity to take a degree right now without taking any classes, paying any tuition, working at all, would you do it?]” The unanimous response from the class was, “no,” but I wasn’t sure why. I knew why I wouldn’t do it, but why wouldn’t everyone else? I hear so many people complaining about their classes, assignments, teachers, tuition that I start to think that there is a minority of students who actually want to be here.
            This class taught me how to do independent research, how to write a paper independently, how to govern myself and my time, how to learn on my own. The teacher gave loads and loads of resources that we could use to improve our learning; he suggested we write annotated bibliographies of the books we read, give ourselves time to, more than anything else, think about the topic we want to write. He suggested that we think about the topic before we ever sit down to write it. This class was an excellent class, even though it was so different from my previous class that was so contrary in method and structure.
            Since I’ve come to college, I have tried my best to keep an optimistic outlook in every class I take. So many students have fallen into the habit of feeling so pessimistic about their school affairs that it takes away the possibility of any fun to take place. When considering applying, I decided that I wouldn’t go to college if I didn’t want to, so I convinced myself and am here because I want to be here, and I always want to make the best of my time. I want to look back on my college experience and remember how great it was, not how much I wanted it to end. There is no sense rushing on into the future, that thing college is meant to prepare us for, without enjoying our current time here.


Monday, November 18, 2013

Blog 12: My Progress

My experience tutoring this past year has definitely made me a better student. Before I transferred to Weber and became independent from my mother, I was not allowed to have a job while in school. She always thought that I would either get too distracted trying to make money or become irresponsible with keeping up with my homework and exams, and I would not be able to get into the teaching program. Being able to become a tutor part time has boosted my confidence in my ability to balance work and school. Also, I am more comfortable taking initiative with projects, and now that I am beginning to student teach, having initiative is extremely imperative to my supervisors. Actually, in my evaluations, they noted I am a lot less introverted when I first started, and I know that is due to me working here. And, of course, the way I write has improved as well. Learning all the grammar rules and ways to fine tune my writing has made my schoolwork a lot more polished.

I also think I has changed my outlook on being a student. I learned how I function in the workplace and classroom through taking the Strength’s Quest and how I learn through gaining knowledge about my learning styles. The most important things was probably my learning style. I had absolutely no clue why I did things the way I did until this semester. I have learned how to actually study and the best way to me to study, so I understand the concepts I read about and retain the information when I go take an exam. I figured out that I do not actually procrastinate, but it just takes me awhile to sort through my thoughts and put them on paper. Being a tutor has also made me realize that most of the work my teachers assigned me was not just busy work or random assignments, but they actually have a purpose or an intent to them. Finally, I have come to totally not hate working in a group. I am not a people person, so I have always hated the idea of having to communicate with other people to get things done. I would rather do the work myself because I knew it would be quality work.

I am not really sure if being a tutor has affected the way I think about myself as a student. If anything, it makes me remember to be a little more empathetic towards my teachers. Students, in general, seem selfish to me and do not really think about the broader implications of their actions. I guess it makes me more aware of myself and how I conduct myself in class, as far as participating in class discussions anyway. But, I have always thought of myself as a good student because I got really good grades, so I can say I know why I am a good student now.

Regardless of whether I became a better student or not, being a tutor has been one of the best experiences for me. Becoming a better person, in general, has made me a better student and educator.

Blog 11: Is there another tutor in the house?

Blog 11: Is there another tutor in the house?/Shelley Williams/Engl 3840

I have been fortunate; this has never happened to me--yet. However, I can think of at least one good instance when for both my sake and the sake of the tutee, I wish it had happened, that is, the tutee or I had had to or wanted to or did actually, seek a replacement tutor for the session.

She came in semi-confident, semi-wary as a returning "mature" or non-trad student. She made it clear that she was new at this; didn't really understand what the teacher wanted; never liked English that much in high school; and finally, as the session wore on, gave me quizzical looks that indicated not only was I not reaching her either, but I was potentially making things worse.

It was at the beginning of spring semester 2013, my first semester tutoring for WSU.  I was struggling with 18 credits (several of which I changed to audits later). Although I felt I was so not hacking it again as a student, I felt I was setting the student at ease by telling her that I'd taught 1010 before, and that this was not going to be as bad as she thought. Because I was so busy "telling" versus showing her how easy it was, it became a labored session--both time-wise and emotionally, as in emotionally-draining--for us both.

Between not saying what I meant or wanted to say because I felt I already knew how to do that, I ended up feeling there wasn't anything I could have done to make the session go less smoothly by what was coming out of my mouth (I now know far less at all should have been exiting that source).  The only tool I didn't forget, mostly because I never didn't have this, was some modicum of self-deprecation or genuine humility in this case, sufficient to say that I was learning again too, being back in school with credits over my head and that I wasn't really explaining myself very well.  When in final and utter doubt, I always self-deprecate.  And sometimes that's useful. Though I think aiming for a middle mark of inspiring confidence by neither bragging nor over-commiserating would have been far better. Or, failing that, if a session starts to get off track and it becomes like a runaway train, for whatever reason, I would at least now not be afraid to ask for a second opinion from a fellow tutor by asking some pointed question to which he/she could respond to with wording that might enlighten the tutee in a way that my words have not as they just kept dimming the switch in the wrong direction.

I've learned that I can also switch tacks midstream too if my approach isn't working and am now more skilled at that. However, I'm sure the day will come when a completely derailed session will have to pass into other hands. Until that day, I'm learning how to avoid it in as many circumstances, with as many kinds of students as possible. Knock on wood.

Blog 10-The few, the proud, the belligerant

Blog 10: Resistant Tutees/Shelley Williams/Engl 3840

Not long ago, I had, for lack of a more benign euphemism, “bragged” that I had never had a tutee whose paper I didn’t engage with on some level. That is still true. However, recently I had to deal with a belligerent student whose writing I was barely allowed to see between, “You don’t even know what Linux is, do you?” and “It’s perfect [the paper]. I’m just supposed to come here to get a paper [the tan sheet} to show my teacher.” This student was a native speaker, but we weren’t speaking the same language at first, or so he thought.

The long and short of it was that he was very attached to his writing, though he pretended the opposite. He pretended it needed nothing because he seemed keenly aware of its utter inadequacy to fulfill the needs of the assignment because he’d waited until the last minute to complete it, let alone read it. As we did read it, scanning the largest components, though he warned me we only had twenty-five minutes and he had no intention of changing it before class, it was obvious he was able to catch some of his own errors. So much for the “it’s perfect” façade. 

Fortunately, I did not ask how he’d done on former assignments because I’m pretty sure he would have gotten more defensive. What I did do was tell him I couldn’t just hand him over a tan sheet without helping him. Then, large issue by large issue, question by question, praise to praise (on the smallest items if need be), I had him almost eating out of my hand. It helped that I was able to tell him exactly what Linux was and therefore what “Libre Word” likely was, his word-processing of choice.

I had to win his trust is what it amounted to, and I did it by acknowledging he had a preferred knowledge base (computer science) and that getting it right on the page was like trying to put words into “code.” By the end of our twenty-five minutes I was summarizing what was good about the paper and what areas could strengthen it even more, including coming in to us in advance next time so we could help him even more.

The student actually said (somewhat incredulously or perhaps sarcastically), “It is?” when I told him it was a good start.  I could tell that only getting the right answer directly out of the gate was acceptable to this student, and anything less was seen as failure. I therefore tried to emphasize writing as process. We’ll see if that works. If I ever see him again, I know we can make further progress.

In the meantime, the office assistant called me over after the session and gave me an “atta girl” because apparently this student has been problematic in the past. She said I handled him really well. I was pleased. We may not always tell students what they want to hear, but that is why we’re here—we tell them what they need to hear, always on the lookout for how they best can/will receive that.

Blog 12: What is a student; how has tutoring shaped me/Shelley Williams/Engl 3840

Though I’ve let myself get behind in this class, shamefacedly, I just re-responded to this in a way, by revamping my response to Blog 1, which, because I have no grade for it, as you know, I thought meant it was not received at all (and hence I re-submitted; I think there are no less than three iterations of it).

Essentially, I was trying to assess, and have been since last year when I re-became a student again (how I always seem to re-define myself—by becoming a student again), what that “being a student” means, what being a good tutor means, and what being a teacher, my end-goal still, means. The hard way, I have learned that I have had to reassess my own natural learning abilities and styles and cater to these or I simply won’t ingest, digest, process or make a part of me new material.

I’ve also come up with a new plan for continued study, unless some fabulous other opportunity to be in an educational setting presents itself outside my being a student. All this came from deciding to take a summer acting course simply because I enjoyed theater in high school. Now I remember it’s really the words of language brought to life on stage that I love. I want to write, reflect, learn.  That’s how I know I’m alive. And I want to teach. So my new plan is to major in Spanish, potentially moving to ESL, and empower people who seem to need it the most. These ESL learners can be among the most grateful. I know this is not always the case (I read Ashley’s blog). However, I have experience with foreign students that is unique and makes me more culturally sensitive to start from a place that bridges from their cultures to ours, since that is the ultimate goal.

The whole joy of being able to tutor and inherent in my desire to teach is to empower other individuals with the written word. Education is empowering—one of the only tools left we have that truly is sufficiently empowering it can not only change individual lives, but communities, countries/nations, continents, our world.

What’s more--I get to, and in a way am obligated to, keep learning if I am going to be a teacher (and that is true even if I weren’t re-enrolled as a student). By definition, a teacher, or at least a good one, wants to always be learning and improving on what’s new in the field he/she teaches, what’s old that needs to be retained, and how these can be synthesized but not diluted to reach students. I want no student left behind who wants to learn (but may not even know how much; ESL students do though), versus the joke that came of that slogan by students themselves, i.e., “No teacher left standing.”  Not all good students make good teachers, but I am of the opinion that good teachers are good learners and know how to teach not only a subject, but they know to teach learning—skills for the moment and skills to last a lifetime.

Blog 7: What's on me mind?

Blog 7: What's on my mind/Shelley Williams/Engl 3840

"Everybody's talkin' at me . . . [something, something?] I don't hear the words they're saying. . . I just hear the echoes in my mind. . . ." Okay, so thems not the actual lyrics verbatim from a song I heard on the Lawrence Welk re-runs I saw in passing when I visited briefly with my parents during Sunday dinner (and the TV is always on because it's my mom's visual candy next to murder mysteries she devours like Lay's potato chips and which my dad can scarcely keep up with from trips to the library for her since she no longer drives).

It reminded me of a book I had read that a friend gave me called Decline of the Lawrence Welk Empire by Poe Ballentine. Prior to that, I had read something(s) else of his, I believe dealing with occupation (not to the degree Studs Terkel does, but . . . ). Anywho, I liked the book, and that's what came to mind when I read the prompt about what's on my mind. In other words, my mind drifted directly to the words "on my mind" from those song lyrics. I associate this to that, that to this, in direct word fashion, always trying to build meaning as I go. Sometimes there's fair little, but it doesn't keep me from trying.

What this brings also to my mind is that I may have responded completely differently to this prompt if I had actually done it on time, but I suspect I'd still have weighed in on what was meaningful and associative for me at the time with the prompt itself, which is the point--an immediate reponse or a response of immediacy to the written prompt of the moment. 

Back to my earlier stream of consciousness, I was actually happy to see my parents can get stuck in a time warp via that show (Lawrence Welk) because, really, the world as it is now is pretty damn topsy turvy.  I thought it was sweet when I asked what the name of the black tap dancer that was tapping on the program to the song "Mr. Bogangles." They couldn't remember but said he was on every week, like he's a regular, as if he were still alive.  I unthinkingly burst their bubble to remind them that he probably wasn't alive anymore. They acquiesced to that.

My parents, my mother and stepdad, met back in the days when people knew how to dance as part of social etiquette. In fact, I got to see the old Salt Lake Terrace Ballroom that had those Big Band panels each musician sat behind before it went the way of entropy and decay (is that redundant?). That reminds me the first I learned of entropy, surprisingly in a book called Grammatical Man, that I think was required or recommended reading for one of my graduate courses. Anyway, the moral decline of the world is on my mind a lot lately. I never used to consider myself conservative, but if someone doesn't retain/maintain that which is good from the past, how does it not pass into the annals of history or MeTV (which used to be called Nickelodon, I think; see, "me" is the new god of choice). I digress. I just wish we could hold onto the good things without technology and the new and supposed "progress" displacing all that.

As former ballroom dancers, the closest my folks can get in the present (via TV land/surrogate life) is archived Lawrence Welk shows, or, Monday-night "Dancing With the Stars," which can actually get pretty raunchy by the benign standards of the 70's and early 80's when the Welk show was still on. Back then, "Staying Alive" was actually considered a pretty heady "real life" (a.k.a. gritty) look at the popular disco dancing of the day. What was once considered edgy is now blasé. And so the beat goes on.

Before I re-enrolled in school, yet again for another make-over of myself, I interviewed for positions at charter schools, (the only public schools that sort of gave me a cursory "look-see" but ultimately in favor of what felt like back-pocket candidates based on the questions they did and did not ask me). A few of those schools were implementing social dance as part of their curriculum.  These culminated in "cotillions" at some of the junior highs, which I thought was cool, and I really wanted to work at this one near Draper. But alas, I was nearly promised the job, but must have really botched something or been displaced by a really stellar individual they interviewed. The bottom line is that I don't get to be a part of that as yet, if ever. Time will tell. And with it, hell cometh at us with great fury.

As an atheist professor I knew used to say, "Where are we going, and why am I in this handbasket?" I thought it was exceptionally funny, and somewhat clever, especially if he coined that himself. But upon closer inspection, there's a bittersweet irony (and maybe therein lies its most potent humor factor), in the fact that an atheist doesn't draw attention to hell because he doesn't believe it exists anymore than heaven. But, perhaps he was drawing attention to the language we use to describe our language use--the poking fun of that hell and handbasket cliché. Either way, I liked the saying. What can I say? I like language. Words can be our friends, our lovers, our deceivers. And, of course, the all-important "all of the above."

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Blog 8: As Grammar Goes

Blog 8: As Grammar Goes/Shelley Williams

As far as grammar rules I can remember, I don't remember them, i.e., I don't remember learning them. I just remember knowing how to use them, or a good number of them. It was only in dissecting sentences via sentence diagramming that I got lost or a little lost. And sadly, I got the most lost when I should have known the rules the best--in college.

I had a grammar course as an undergraduate but didn't fare as well as I felt I should have given the fact that I am a visual non-verbal learner by first preference.  What I think happened was that I had learned the way the words looked on the page and sounded in my head as I read them and to tease them apart from that format made them make less not more sense to me. In grad school I had a course that I believe was called Discrete Discourse. Well, no, it probably wasn't that (and I'm too lazy to look it up). If it were that, it would have sounded like a contraband course. But the gist of the course was that there are only certain choices we can make in making sense of sentences. THAT course was the kind of grammar that stuck with me, though the course was not exactly intended for that purpose (of teaching grammar). But what it did teach, inadvertently, was that we understand syntax of our language better than we think we do, and because we do, we can teach it better knowing that. Leastwise, that's what I got out of the class, or one of the things.

One rule just came to mind from my tender years, mainly because I recently caught myself misspelling/misusing it in haste, e.g., " 'i' before 'e' except after 'c'." I suppose, upon further reflection, I was taught the old school rules about not starting a sentence with a conjunction nor ending with a preposition. However, to some extent, I think I ignored these rules earlier on than was in vogue before "new school" grammar took over, which is really just another way of saying before we threw the baby out with the bathwater in favor of substance/content, which, okay, upon honest reflection again, IS the baby. Then, I suppose the better way to say that would be we now have to give dry, sponge-baths to our babies because students have next to no grammar now that substance is king. And frankly, shouldn't a royal baby deserve actual water to bathe in though?  I'm just sayin' . . .

Blog 6: Picking up on learning styles

Blog 6: Picking up on learning styles/Shelley Williams

I have always been interested in finding ways to help myself and others learn better, and learning about and implementing different learning styles as adapted for students/tutees individually is precisely what we have to do to help us be effective tutors and to help them be effective learners (of any subject as well as of their own metacognition). I have found that I am a visual/non-verbal learner as my number one preference, and do learn that way best. Additionally though, I am kinetic and symbolic (the latter not listed as a learning style, but one which is named in learning modalities these days). My final assessment of my own learning style(s), and everyone's for that matter, is that we will always have a first preference, but that, as learning style theory supports, the more senses an individual can use to learn a new topic/subject/skill, the more quickly and solidly will he/she master it.

"Half the battle of being in college is learning how to learn, learning how you best learn." I can think of numerous recent instances when these words have come tumbling out of my mouth this semester as I've tutored tutees. And it's true. When all is said and done, what is said in class by the instructor, and what is done by the student as process and product in/for a given class are inextricably linked. The more learner-friendly the teacher can be by introducing various assignments that implement application of various learning styles, the better off students will be because some one assignment will speak "just right" to a student while another assignment or way of explaining it will speak to another in Goldilocks fashion. HOWEVER, given we do not live in an ideal world where all instructors even know their own learning style(s), arming a student with recognition of their own metacognition (learning style), is essentially tantamount to teaching them how to fish versus fishing for them.

In short, their instructor(s) may be poor fishermen, but once learners/tutees/fishers of knowledge have tapped into their own brains and behavioral observance for their learning styles, they have begun the journey of how they best learn and can ever after crack the academic code of any given course for themselves (using all other available resources in some cases as well). No worm dangled, no fish caught. We have to dangle the worm of metacognition in front of beginning writers, but ultimately, they will not need us for that later on, and making ourselves as tutors indispensable for some things is important, but for other things like metacognition, making ourselves obsolete is our job.

Blog 9, Albeit not on time

Blog 9: Past 1010-2010 Recollection/Shelley Williams/Engl 3840

I liked to write and did pretty well in high school on papers that I had to produce, but I was not good at writing under pressure or planning out what to say, and so I did not pass the AP tests and ended up taking both a 101-103 series (under the quarter system; I am uncertain what would be the semester system equivalent); and I also took 2010. The 101-103 series I took many moons ago in a block offered in the summer at Weber State. Though I cannot remember far back enough as to how or why that series of courses were segregated yet joined as a block in terms of developing skills, what I do remember is that the topics I was asked to write about were actually quite abstract and sophisticated for introductory English courses.  The topics I remember were writing on love, and other emotions. I suppose the idea behind this was not having to incorporate outside sources but just to speak from my own experience/opinion/feelings, which, frankly, is a lot to trust to a freshman.  But in personal narratives that became popular soon after, the idea may have been to bridge from the known and give us students the feeling that we had some valuable experience and something to say, even as novice writers. I got A's, but that's not the end of the story.

 The 2010 equivalent I took, at another academic institution, was considered business/technical writing. I remember we had to write a couple main assignments, one of which was supposed to be generated from our actual major. That concept was a great one as it made my research very applied. That being said, neither the 1010 series nor the 2010 course felt like it was sufficient to prepare me for graduate school writing because I remember one of my first assignments in research writing (or Research Methods) garnered me a low “B,” and I was confused.  I spoke to the instructor and to sum up, I felt the kindly-delivered message was that I really wasn’t writing at graduate level.  I took the message to heart but also to task and worked to improve. 

Though this is not as detailed as I would have liked, I simply cannot remember that far back.  I can safely say, however, that my English experience was still very “old school,” meaning that simple practice was supposed to make perfect, not troubled with bridging cursory grammar and rhetorical  tools understanding the way English 1010 often incorporates now (okay, one out of two; there is little to no emphasis on grammar anymore). I didn’t learn any of the rhetorical tools until I was required to teach them to students as a teaching assistant in grad school.  While I wish it had not taken me that long to accumulate such skills necessary to be truly conversant in needed composition skills and academic discourse, I cannot complain because my journey was my journey and made me appreciate finally having said tools in my arsenal that I may not have appreciated if I had obtained them earlier versus the harder or longer route to them.


Hello Blog!

This week’s topic is how working as a tutor in the Writing Center has affected my life as a student.

Being a tutor has influenced my schoolwork in a few ways. For one, I am more cognizant of what goes on the pages of my papers. I have learned so many organization, grammar, syntax, and flow rules from this class as well as by having to explain concepts to tutees that come through the Writing Center and DELC. I also believe that my clarity and ways of explaining concepts in a paper have improved because of tutoring. In many, many tutoring sessions I have had to find alternate ways in which to explain and describe concepts and subjects to tutees in a way different from the way I originally tried to explain it. Everyone’s learning styles are different, and that has something to do with how students take in information, but sometimes I know that I am just not being totally clear with the student and I need to change my ways. Working as a tutor has helped me to write more clearly in my own work.

Being a tutor has also helped me develop as a student in general. I have a better idea what professors are looking for in their assignments. I have tutored papers for some classes that I may have to take in the future, and by looking at how someone else did the assignment, it helps me to have a clearer view of what the professor may be looking for. Also, I start every tutoring session by finding out what the assignment is and, if possible, by reading the assignment description and grading rubric. Sometimes students that come into the Writing Center completely miss the mark on an assignment because they did not read the assignment very closely. This has helped me as a student to read assignments more carefully and closely follow directions.

The way that I think of myself as a student has also changed. When I read a paper for a tutoring session, I am reading the paper as would a professor if the professor had seen this draft of the work. It is not exactly the same I am sure, especially because we are only peers and we do not have the experience of professors in their so-and-so year, and we do not have any preconceived notions about what the paper is supposed to look like, but we are looking at the paper to help a student become a better writer, and in doing so, we do point out patterns of error in many areas. In some sense we are looking at the paper from the other side of the desk. This has changed the way I view myself as a student because I know that the professor is there to help the student. The professor (hopefully) has the student’s best interest in mind. I have learned to better respect my professors and ask for help if I need it because professors care (or they should, and if they don’t, then what is the purpose of their job?).

Being a tutor has affected many aspects of my schooling and student life. Not only my schoolwork has been affected, but also my approach to being a student and the way I think about myself as a student. Tutoring has done things for me that I did not expect.