From my experience as a writing tutor, it has had many ups and downs. It is definitely a highly enjoyable job when you see the progress of your tutees and watch as their writing improves throughout the weeks. However, there are moments when you get discouraged because your students do not show up or they lack confidence in their writing, which hinders them from doing well academically. Here are some of my personal experiences and tips on how I think would be helpful in becoming a successful writing 2 and/or a writing across disciplines tutor here at the Learning Support Services.
First, we must acknowledge that in order to obtain and fully commit yourself to this position, you should have some personal qualities and academic strengths prior to being hired as a tutor. Personally, I felt that my experiences working in an academic setting prior to applying for this position is what made me feel more comfortable being a one on one tutor. I previously worked at Kumon, a tutoring company with other kids, which made me understand how to be supportive of students who struggle in an academic setting. By being supportive and understanding, you build strong relationships with your fellow tutees and create a more comfortable environment for them to ask you for help when needed. Also, an academic strength I had prior to this position was the fact that I was constantly writing papers for my major (Psychology) or any other upper division I was taking, which made me understand the struggles students face when asked to write in a demanding academic tone, but not fully understanding how to do it. However, with my desire to assist others in need and my personal enjoyment of attending school, I felt that I was a well-qualified student to become a tutor for others.
When applying for this position, I explained in my application a few qualities about myself that made me a qualified tutor. However, after obtaining the position, I realized that those qualities were not enough to be the best effective learning coach I could be. While I personally enjoy attending school and had my own strategies to succeed in college, I was unaware of how to motivate and teach other students to feel the same way as I did. Personally, the most difficult task to deal with when trying to be an effective learning coach is finding the best way to motivate your students and how to reassure them that their efforts are not going to waste. In order to prevent my students from being discouraged, I would try my best to not be too critical and often follow up a suggestion with a supportive comment. For example, I may tell a student, “Your thesis is too broad. However, you did a great job in the introduction leading to it. How do you think you can be more specific with your claim?” Often the way you talk to your tutee makes the biggest difference in helping them improve their writing. Following up some criticism with supportive commentary or questions makes the student feel that they are capable of improving their writing so they don’t feel hopeless and think that they are terrible writers. Ultimately, you want your tutee to feel comfortable and see that you are there to help guide them through improving their writing, and not there to fix all their mistakes or point out their flaws. To engage students, I try to build a personal relationship from the start, by asking general questions of “how was your day?” or “how is your class going?” in order to start a less serious tone during tutoring sessions so that the tutees feel that I am there to help them and I’m not there to judge them or be too critical their writing.
From the education 96 course, I gained more knowledge of different learning and teaching techniques that could be applied in a tutoring setting. However, the most important learning experience from the course is hearing the different personal encounters each tutor or mentor has with their students. Everyone has a different approach and they all learned what they feel like works best for them. Meeting the community of students that are always tutoring alongside you helps reassure you that if you ever have a problem or struggle with helping a tutee, there’s most likely another tutor or peer advisor that has experienced the same situation that can always help you out. I wish you the best of luck and hope you enjoy your time as a tutor as much as I have!