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  • Annie Marks

The Tutors Are Not The Only Ones Who Teach At The Writing Center

Hey there everyone, it’s me (Annie)! I’m transitioning back into our “Fast Facts About The Writing Center” series this week! As part of this series, I want to tell you about one of my favorite aspects of the Writing Center: the ability for everyone, even the tutors, to learn. We, the Writing Center tutors, are constantly focused on helping our peers improve their writing skills and learn more about writing. In the process of helping our peers, we’re also constantly learning! Here are three things we learn during our sessions with our peers:

  1. We learn about writing

As tutors, we desire to know everything we can about writing. But, achieving that extensive knowledge is simply not possible. We could never know how to write perfectly for every genre or how to explain every writing skill or rule. Due to this, students sometimes ask us questions that we simply don’t have an immediate answer to. Instead of giving up, we tell the student that we’re going to figure out the answer together. We consult other tutors, professors, or online resources until we find an answer. Upon finding this answer, we expand both the student’s and our knowledge of writing. We’re then able to apply this knowledge to future tutoring sessions and writing assignments.

Tutors learn about writing!

I once had a student ask me if they should include a prestigious summer program on their resume even though this program was cancelled due to the pandemic. They saw their acceptance into this program as an accomplishment within itself, but they also did not want their future employer to consider this information unnecessary. Since I had never encountered this situation before, I admitted I didn’t have an answer to the student’s question. The student and I consulted with other tutors and came to a decision. I was then able to use this knowledge when helping other students with resumes and forming my own resume.

2. We learn to adapt

When we begin tutoring at the Writing Center, we quickly learn that every student and session is unique. Students across all majors and disciplines seek help from the center, so we are constantly helping students with varying assignments. A tutor may help a student with an advertisement analysis paper for an English class during a session and help another student with a medical school application essay in the next session. While we also encounter students working on the same writing assignment, these students still have very different needs. One student may need help strengthening their thesis for an article review, but their peer may want to focus on being more concise for the same article review. In order to meet the needs of each student and the requirements of each assignment, we learn to treat every session as different and unique. We ask the student what they want to focus on, then adapt the direction of the session and our tutoring methods to fulfill their request.

Tutors learn to adapt!

3. We learn to listen

People often assume that we do most of the talking during tutoring sessions, but we actually prefer to let the student lead the discussion. We allow the student to lead because we have learned that we best help them by listening to their needs. The student is using their voice, ideas, and words to craft their paper and we’re simply there to help them shape the paper they want to create. Since the student knows the direction for their paper, we listen to their needs and help them with the areas they request help on.

Tutors learn to listen!

I learned the power of listening during one of my first tutoring sessions. A student brought me a rough draft of a research paper they had written for an English class. Although my natural instinct was to read through the student’s paper and offer suggestions, the student told me that they felt uninterested in their topic. I listened to them, recognized they needed help with their research topic, and spent the session helping them brainstorm a topic they were more interested in. By setting aside my desire to read the student’s paper and choosing to listen to the student’s needs instead, I was able to truly help them.

Although I only shared a few tutoring stories above, I have countless instances where I learned from a student during a tutoring session. My fellow tutors share stories similar to mine of how they’ve expanded their knowledge about writing, learned to adapt to the needs of every unique student, and gained listening skills that they can use in future sessions! We thoroughly enjoy gaining knowledge and learning new skills as we help you and other students learn about writing. If you would like to learn more and help the tutors learn, stop by the Writing Center before the semester ends!

Schedule an appointment at the Writing Center and help a tutor learn!


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