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.
This was my first blog experience.
Personally, I find online writing to be very impersonal. So It didn’t make a difference to me whether it was my friends, acquaintances, or complete strangers reading my postings.
However, knowing that I was writing to other first time tutors did highly affect the content of my writing on the blog. Because I knew that other students on the blog were going through similar experiences as peer tutors, I was able to feel that my writing was much more conversational and less complacent than writing a blog for people who are unfamiliar with your experiences. I understood that what I was writing was going to be well understood as well as expounded upon by members of our blog community.
I really enjoyed that we could keep up an insightful and interesting conversation outside of the classroom. The essence of the blog I felt was closely related to the principles we were taught to use as tutors. From day one, we were told that we should not follow the “banking concept of education”. We learned that learning is best facilitated through conversation and group learning. — This is precisely what this blog enabled us to to.
Indeed, we practiced what we preached. And I feel good about that.
— Jordan Wilsted–
I felt inspired to talk about an observation session the I participated in at CU’s Writing Center. At this session I learned more than just how to help tutor students; I learned something that improved my own writing on a “global level”.
The writer came into the tutoring center and met the consultant. The writer was taking a comic books class in which he was required to write an extensive analysis on his interpretation of a single comic book page.
“I have a lot of facts and observations in here,” he said. “But could you help me figure out my main point? I don’t have a thesis.”
The consultant read his paper aloud, making sure to highlight certain sentence level errors with her intonations and pauses. At the end of the paper, she said that she loved that she felt like she was reading the comic book frame by frame and thought the flow of the paper was phenomenal.
At the end of the session, she addressed his questions about his thesis.
“I think you know exactly what you are trying to say. But if you are looking for a grand statement that is completely unique and original, your probably not going to find it. But a thesis doesn’t need to be anything profound, or even summarize your whole paper, it is simply there to guide the reader through the paper.”
This was some of the wisest and most realistic advice that I had heard in a while. So many teachers scare you with your thesis. They tell you that is has to be something that ties the whole paper and is the most fundamentally imprtant part of a piece of writing. I believe that this is over dramatizing the purpose of a thesis. A thesis statement may very well be the foundation of the paper, but it doesn’t have to carry the whole weight of the paper. Rather it is there to help displace the weight evenly throughout the paper.
It is this type of large-scale advice that I find extremely important when working to create better writers