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

Monthly Archives: November 2012

Secretly, I have always wanted to blog. I am fairly crafty (canning, sewing, knitting, spinning, gardening, etc.) and I thought that maybe I could connect with like-minded people in this world and make some new “friends.” So, I was pretty excited, to say the least, when we began to blog. I thought, “yes! This is it! I will finally start a personal blog while I write one for school!” Well, that didn’t happen, but something did. I got my feet wet in the world of blogging. I put my voice (which I struggled with at times) out there in the blogosphere for people who I don’t really know to read my writing. Sometimes I would be apprehensive when I hit that publish button and contemplate deleting my post and writing something entirely different. But you see, the posts that I was uncomfortable with were the posts that I wasn’t myself. We are all taught to write academically; and being in this class I would assume we are all pretty good at it. But this is a blog, and writing that way is sometimes…boring (for me at least!). I loved the evolution of finding my blogging voice and knowing that regardless of what I write, someone will read it (thank you!).

Being college students in this generation of technology gives us a great opportunity to communicate with people all over the web. Whether it be blog posts, or daily online journals, we have the advantage of communication with not only people in our area, but people across the globe. This gives us the chance to talk about what ever we want, and discuss any important issues that are constantly boggling our minds. Individuals get to share their true thoughts over the internet, not being nervous or scared about what people will think. After all, your posts are behind a computer screen. This is why blogging is a huge advantage for us as peer tutors. We get to share our experiences and knowledge over ongoing back to back communication. The aspect of commenting on each others post ext. Some reason people are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas behind a screen then infront of an audience. This gives us the power to gain as much knowledge as we need being peer tutors. Im not going to lie, when i was introduced to the blogging method I was not crazy about it. But now that I have had time to express my concerns in the writing world (and gain feedback) my view has changed on the blogging industry tremendously. The aspect of blogging will only gain momentum in the future. We are the begininng of bloggers, and its an opportunity to be a part of this new and exciting trend!

The whole concept of having a public audience versus a friendly, informal, familiar one of friends and classmates in the blogosphere wholly impacts how people speak. Tone and diction revolve around this dilemma. I know for a fact that I had a tendency to use cliches, broader examples, and speech that definitely wasn’t my true voice in preliminary blog posts for the sake of universal connection and understanding. If from the start this was a tutoring blog of just my peers and I, there would be jokes, quotes, memes, and much more in depth debate simply because we could talk literally talk out questions and disagreements. However, within a public arena, postings are made more professional, clever, and well-rounded. People in a public forum, especially in a collaborative one like this blog, don’t exactly banter back and forth from opposite sides of the fence. Rather, bloggers build on each other’s ideas and build more comfortable tones and diction as time passes.

As time went and and we all got to know each other , I think we all felt more comfortable expressing our true selves on the blog. I think that, even if you read the titles of posts or look at the multimodal components of them, you’ll find the the quirkiness and frankness increases with time.

In short, bloggers in the public arena go from F is for Friends who discuss politely in universal, watery language to F is for Friends who “do stuff together” (collaborate, be open, show true opinions and quirks).

Comment on the experience of sharing your thoughts and ideas with a “public” audience outside of your teacher and classmates.  What did you do differently than you might have if the audience were all people you knew? How, for example, did you address the challenge of tone and voice? As time went on, in what ways did you become more comfortable with the genre of blogging and/or did a different set of challenges surface?

After creating your post, select a category or two that best represents your post including the category that represents your “group.” For example, if you are in Group “A” and your post is about the role of the tutor and the politics, you should choose the following labels: Category A, the tutor, and politics.

I’ve decided to make my final project a deliverable about verbal and nonverbal “best practices” for UWTs when tutoring. In my research I came across quite a few studies that talked about “politeness theory” and its effectiveness in tutoring relationships. Politeness Theory, coined by social psychologists Brown and Levinson, suggests two types of politeness that can be employed to “save face” (the “face” being someone’s self-perception and self-confidence) and build strong, positive relationships quickly. These two types are positive politeness and negative politeness… **Negative politeness, you say? How can that be? Isn’t that contradictory? ** by positive and negative, Brown and Levinson denote the type of situation that is being mediated. For example, positive politeness techniques would be used when meeting the tutor for the first time, etc…. Something that wouldn’t potentially “threaten face” of the tutee. Negative politeness techniques are used to mediate potential threat in tutoring situations like revising a paper, suggesting a change, etc. (anything that could make the tutee feel self conscious about their writing or writing skills). 

So… what are examples of these positive and negative techniques, and how can they help me as a UWT??

POSITIVE techniques include light laughter/joking, smiling, eye contact, agreement, avoiding disagreement, and attending to the tutee. These are often considered “common sense” when meeting someone new. 

NEGATIVE techniques include minimizing imposition (I was hoping that… ), being indirect, using modals (would, could, should), forgiveness (Sorry but can I please..), and vagueness. These take effort “above and beyond” normal interactions between two strangers, but do a great deal of good when approaching sticky topics like poor paper content, lack of organization, lack of clarity, etc. 

The studies I researched suggested utilizing negative politeness strategies most when first working with a tutee, as it is important to establish a relationship where the tutor feels comfortable expressing weakness and vulnerability as a writer. By minimizing hurtful imposition on the tutee’s skills, they will be more willing to take risks and make changes as a writer (and therefore make the session successful). 

At your next session, try being extra aware and careful with the way you phrase recommendations, comments, and suggestions to your tutee. Your kindness could make all the difference in how the tutee things about tutoring, the writing center, and themselves as a writer in general! 

I’ve decided to research active listening and pinpoint some cognitive and behavioral aspects of listening that can help tutors affectively collaborate with tutees. This project made me reevaluate my own listening practices, and it became sort of “meta” during my tutoring sessions. The tutors who listened to me reading my paper aloud subtlety changed their body language to reflect what I wrote in my paper.

First, I focused on the behavioral aspects of listening, including mental focus. I explained the weakness of the phrase “listen harder.” Through my research I discovered how complex the mental listening process is.

Second, I delved into effective listening body language, which includes: facing the speaker, nodding, rephrasing, and questioning. However, over emphasizing these practices can also seem condescending to a speaker. A tutor must be sensitive to the context of the session and notice how a speaker responds to listening body language.

I’m still not quite sure what to create for my final deliverable though. Originally, I intended crafting a handout that could be used by tutors and tutees. Professor Russell mentioned that I could use “Case Builder” software to create potential situations where tutors write how they would react. This software is much more dynamic and interesting than a handout. I would create a fictional tutoring scenario; focused on listening, and then a tutor chooses from options how they would respond to the situation. Then they could see the “suggested behavior” described in the scenario. This “quiz” I make could then be a tutor-training tool. Would this be a good way to train tutors? Or would another type of deliverable be more effective?

Every day we all walk in and out of several buildings which each have their own specific purpose in our lives. Some of you, assuming I’m not the only one, had classes today (Friday) on campus. At some point, you probably walked out of a building and to another one to get food. At the end of the day you go back to your house, dorm, or apartment or maybe out to a friends house or even a place like a bar. We all know that the buildings on campus are used for academics, and your home is a place for you to sleep and live in, while the bars are always good for balcking out.

What we all seem to overlook when it comes to buildings is how they represent their function. I guarantee that most of you rarely think about each building you walk into, but everyone would all have an innate sense that something is out of place if your typical lecture class held in one of the many academic looking buildings on your campus was suddenly transformed into a disco night club. While that is a very extreme example, it hopefully brought you to my point.

Architecture is not only about erecting buildings, but also about studying what the intent of the architect was with the building. Architects, believe it or not, are people too, all with their own differing opinions. When they were contracted to design and erect a specific building, they looked at its future functions in society and asked themselves “How can I make this building physically represent it’s intended function?’. This being the basic question asked by architects leads into the subcategories like modern architecture versus Greek architecture when you consider the historical and political aspects of that architect. What were the times like while this building were being made? Are they in a highly populated urban area or the spread out country land of a ranch? What about a government building in the United States used for political matters in comparison to the Paris Opera catering to the cultural arts of France?


If we think about these specific variables in the buildings that we use today, we realize that we are surrounded by structures that directly reflect our past in a combined historical, cultural, and political setting. Architects have used designs like placing two columns at each end of a table in certain office buildings to represent the idea of democracy by getting rid of the hierarchy of the head and foot of a table.

If any of you disagree with me in any way or have any extra input on what I have posted above, please let me know in the comments. I am currently writing an architectural paper and forming a presentation on how to write about architecture, so any extra advice at this point would be greatly appreciated so I know I’m on the right track.