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.
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.
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.
When I was asked to write a blog for this class, I was scared – what if I learned no new strategies? What if everyone on the site had found some revolutionary way to create a connection with their students that they were tutoring and I couldn’t? When I was applying to be an RA I absolutely dreaded our mock mediation sessions – afraid that I would never be able to give anyone advice while everyone else could. I was afraid I couldn’t apply what I had learned to a real life session. When it came to writing this blog, I can say I felt a little bit better having gone through a similar situation before but I still didn’t know what to expect.
I have written blogs in the past but never to people I didn’t know in other universities. And never was it a requirement for other students to comment on what I had to say. I think that was probably my most favorite thing about this blog posting – putting up my ideas for people I didn’t know to read and agree or disagree. Regardless of the comment and it’s relations to what I was saying, I didn’t care, I just wanted there to be some type of conversation that had sprouted from my words. I think my tone of voice was similar to how I usually write blogs – it is personal, it is conversational, there is no dialogue so it is somewhat proper but it is how I feel a blog should be written and I am very much comfortable with it. I have been from the beginning.
Over this semester about 90 percent of my tutees were ESL students. I wanted to my research paper on something related to them. One of my biggest challenges was trying to understand their language to help them understand how it’s different from English. For example, I took five years of French. Let’s say a French speaking student came into the writing center and it became evident in their paper that she was trying to conjugate the verbs like they do in the French language. To make words plural it’s not as easy as adding an “s” to the end of a word. With my experience I would be able to understand where she got the idea to write like that and it would be easier for me to explain how it’s different in English.
So I could do my project on being open to the many languages and forms of writing in other countries.
My other idea would be to about explaining the rules of grammar effectively. As native English speakers, we don’t think too much about the odd rules of English. English is one of the hardest languages to learn because of all of the exceptions to different rules. For example, the plural of goose is geese, but the plural to moose is not meese. David and Matt want to go to London. However Jack wants to go to Italy.
I’m still brainstorming ideas, but I definitely want to write about ESL students because that is who I’ve had most of my experience with. I’m open to any suggestions.
I will be honest, I’m a little lost in how to find a topic to write about for my research paper and that this blog prompt is putting me on the spot to try and figure out an idea. However, I have managed to contemplate a few ideas that I am somewhat pleased with but could use some feedback on whether the ideas need more work, or they’re too broad, maybe they’re not broad enough! Feel free to analyze my below ideas as I have only 2 to help me pick the right choice.
My first idea I like to call, “There is No ‘Bias’ in the Word Peer Tutor. I was thinking about writing for this topic how Tutors have to have an open state of mind, to not let their views cloud their judgement when helping a student with their paper. My plan was to find some examples of tutors going through controversial sessions where they have to put aside their moral views for the sake of the student. I was thinking along the lines of interviewing my fellow classmates and other writing center tutors to get a real life effect and also do additional research on the web to find any case examples and possibly some tips on how to avoid blowing the situation out of proportion.
Another idea I had, which I am actually rather interested in, is international students coming into the writing center asking for help with their “grammar” because there professors directed them there. While in class we watched a video and I saw many of the different writing styles that students in China, Spain and other countries exhibit and how sometimes our way of writing is rude and straight to the point. Whereas in Spain, if you cut right to chase when communicating with someone they assume you’re rude because you didn’t consider asking how everyone was after not speaking to them after a longer period of time. So I would analyze different cultural writing styles and compare them American writing styles and how we as tutors sometimes have to open our eyes to cultural boundaries. The reason why something might sound redundant or overly descriptive might be because of where this person comes from. I would also use ideas from Bruce’s “ESL students share their writing center experiences” and Ally and Bacon’s “working with ESL students” readings from class.
But then again these are just some ideas that I’ve managed to muster up. Clearly they need a lot of work but I’d appreciate any feedback given. Thanks.
The papers and pieces that we encounter are not our own. They belong solely to the writers who come to us for our feedback and our guidance on how to strengthen their work. Although it can be frustrating to take the backseat—even when we think it would sound so much better with a different verb or a particular structure—the nondirective and hands-off approach also relieves us of the need to support every opinion expressed in a paper. Although we help with the papers, we can rest easy knowing that they do not become our papers and that the opinions expressed need not represent our opinions.
For example, I imagine a writer sharing with me a paper arguing for the irrelevance of religion in a modern, scientifically advanced society. My Christian faith is a fundamental part of my identity and undergirds my purpose in life, and I feel joyful whenever I find people deeply engaged in their faith journeys (whether it be on a Christian or other path; I believe they all lead to the same mountaintop, if you know that metaphor). However, I acknowledge that I can help a writer strengthen their anti-religion argument despite the fact that it is antithetical to one of my core beliefs. Hopefully I would still help the writer reverse outline their argument, consider the organization of their argument, and point out any patterns of error. Making an argument for the opposing side deepens your understanding of an issue, and might even sway your opinion or strengthen your prior convictions. Ultimately we can take comfort in the fact that the name in the paper’s header is not ours; we help writers express their arguments, but their argument need not match up with ours.