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.
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.