A blog for tutors to share their ideas, experiences, and insights.

My American “Sisters”

I’m giving up on the one-photo-with-description format. I’ll just post photos from great moments with my friends from Brazil from here on out! Já cansei de postar uma foto e escrever muito sobre ela. Hoje vou postar várias fotos de grandes momentos com meus amigos no Brasil.

Here’s the first, with my “homestay sister from another mister” Yamira (right) and our friend Jazzy. As I said before: Yes, they’re both American, not Brazilian. And yes, they’re both friends, not models. But they could easily be both Brazilian and models! We had some unforgettable times together and I will always be grateful for their friendship. Esta é a primeira, com minha “irmã” Yamira e nossa amiga Jazzy. Como disse antes: Sim, elas são americanas, não brasileiras. E sim, são amigas, não modelos. Mas podem ser brasileiras e também modelos!

Fostering Dialogue

My favorite part of this multi-university blog has been the dialogue.  This dialogue takes place in the comments on posts and in the ways we respond to each others’ ideas.  Sometimes its imperceptible, but I believe most of us read a few of our peers’ entries before writing.  Through that process we pick up on some new ideas that we might build on in our own entries.  We also pick up on the tone for the blog, based on what others have written.  In that way the blog was a blank slate upon which we could create our own discussion space.

That dialogue has other imperceptible effects.  When we write, we write for an audience of peers rather than for a professor’s grade.  I believe this is reflected in the informal tone we often strike and the pop culture media we add.  We write much differently when we know that others will read and perhaps even think about our posts.

Although I enjoyed the dialogue of the blog, I didn’t find it terribly helpful for serious analysis or reflection.  It was more like a casual reminder to think about something related to writing tutoring.  I think the heightened interaction might come at the expense of deeper thinking.

“Good teaching is more a giving of right questions than a giving of right answers.” – Josef Albers

     Throughout the semester, I could have been more diligent about posting regularly on the blog or responding to questions quicker; I admit this. However, that doesn’t mean I didn’t see the benefits of this assignment. Bringing together peer tutors from around the country discussing candidly about their experiences or feelings was quite interesting. It gave students a platform to discuss with other individuals how tutoring was going for them, offer advice to other peer tutors, and promote discussion on questions or concerns one might have with their tutoring techniques. This is all well and good. However, how did we explain this experience to those outside of this blog and quite possibly out of the peer tutoring realm altogether?

     Discussing the purpose and goals of the writing center with students, friends, or family members, the major assumption was that peer tutors wrote and/or corrected English papers students brought in. I am sure at least some, if not all, of you have heard this same thing. People didn’t realize that we help guide students, from all areas of academia, through the writing process allowing the student to extrapolate their own ideas from their own work. Simply put, we help individuals become better writers while becoming better writers ourselves. We are not just dumping information on to the student. The tutoring session is an exchange of information. The peer tutor also benefits from the session as well. As Phil Collins once said, “In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.”

     Peer tutoring allows students to talk with someone who isn’t seen as a superior. They aren’t intimidated to express their ideas because they know that we aren’t there to criticize or grade their papers. We are there to help and be helped. Peer tutors provide a one-on-one session that is very rarely found in classrooms that can, for instance, encourage non-native English speaking students to become more comfortable speaking English, students that utilize disability services, or students that just want to become more familiar with the written language.

     As I explained the nuances of the purpose of the writing center to folks that may not have been familiar with them, I was reminded that I am in a position to improve students educational confidence and career, and in doing so, being able to have my educational confidence and career improved as well. This is something that I am genuinely proud of, even if this sentiment isn’t readily apparent. As I cogitate on the experiences and learning that I have been involved with over the course of the semester, I am truly grateful to have been able to be a peer tutor. I hope this sentiment is shared amongst you all.

“It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and Knowledge.” -Albert Einstein.

You want me to tell what to who?

When I did my first post here on TutorMusings2, I was rather uncomfortable. I was in no way a stranger to blogging, but writing for a group of people I knew were in a similar situation to me was awkward. Now that we’re here at the end of the blogging though, I still don’t feel comfortable doing it just because I haven’t met most of you face-to-face. I feel like Internet connections only truly work and are efficient after you’ve met in person. If I had known everybody in the blog I might have been more inclined to share more personal details than I had previously divulged. I would be less hesitant to just skim on the surface and I would have delved deeper into the nitty gritty of tutoring. My biggest challenge with blogging actually became remembering to read everybody’s posts weekly. It wasn’t that they were bad or boring in any sense, but I always felt like blogging should be done where, if you’re going to follow a blog, you do it where you read it when you have time, not as a demand. Having a blog to read weekly presented itself as a really strong challenge, but I eventually caught on to it and I’m glad that I did. I enjoyed listening to all of your experiences and hope at least some of you will continue with this as the journey continues for all of us.

Peer Tutors 2.0

I liked this form of blogging. I had started my own blog on wordpress over the summer so I was used to the format and felt more comfortable writing in this atmosphere. I feel like I express more of what is on my mind through a blog. In a class full of people I know, I might be a little more quiet or more careful of what I say. On a blog I don’t fully know who my audience is other than that they’re college students, I feel like there’s more freedom on here. Although I know our professors will be looking at this, it doesn’t feel like big brother is watching. Therefore, my tone for blogging is just how I think. However, I still feel the need to write slightly formal.

I liked that this gave us an opportunity to talk to students from other campuses in a similar class. We were able to hear different opinions and have discussions through the comments. It was like Peer Tutors 2.0 being able to connect with other writing centers. It would be neat if we could actually see the other classes through something like Skype and have a class discussion that way. However, this could be better because then everyone would get a chance to talk.

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Reflections

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this blog. My only other experience contributing to a blog was in my Writing 20 class, and that was pretty much just a public brainstorming session. I knew everyone on the site from class, so posting there was about the same as talking in class. This blog was a lot more novel for me because I had the chance to get a glimpse into the minds of all these students from around the country that I have never met. Everyone had a slightly different way of looking at things, but we are all tutors working out how exactly to tutor. I really appreciate the interconnectedness that brought. I felt like I had a purpose writing these posts knowing that we were forming a relationship with other students comprised entirely of these little exchanges. It’s like a modern day pen-pal program!

I also loved having the blog as a way to cut loose a little bit after working on literature reviews and research papers. I’m usually a pretty conversational writer, so this felt a lot more comfortable for me. It’s nice speaking in “my own voice”, and it’s been neat hearing the voices of all the different sorts of writers that these programs attract. This blog felt less drily academic and more like a conversational collaboration because we were all sharing a bit of ourselves with each other.

I’m really glad I’ve been able to do this blog and get to know you folks a little bit. I wish all of you the best of luck in the future and hope you have a happy holiday break! Image

Blog Reflections

I found our virtual classroom blog insightful. I enjoyed both discussing the appropriate role of a tutor with everyone and also sharing my idea of what tutoring is.  Blogging is becoming something that everyone does in one way or another.  With the increased popularity of Facebook and Twitter no person after our generation will ever not know what a blog is.  I can also say that my parents never used a blog and I would be surprised if they knew what one was.  I think that for most students, as tutors, we are all comfortable speaking our mind and sharing our thoughts and ideas on paper.  So speaking honestly and frankly on this blog was not a challenge for me.  blogging

One of the best parts of this experience for me was reading some of the posts from students on other campuses.  I think that the idea of combining different communities of students are what makes blogs like this successful.  I have read several articles that were very interesting and insightful.  I also read a few blogs that I did not agree with.  Either way I always walked away from the exchange feeling that I had learned something new.

I also wanted to include this picture in my post.  I was searching the internet the other day and I came across this picture on someones blog.  I thought that this was a perfect wordle to explain our experiences blogging.

It was great sharing with everyone and I wish you all luck on your future endeavors.


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