Reflections from a New Tutor

By February 1, 2011Peer Writing Tutoring

I’ve been sitting on my first lead tutoring experience for a few days now, trying to figure out how exactly to classify it. Successful? Not so much? Mostly successful, with a side of I-wish-I’d-thought-of-that?

I had the good fortune (though I would never have called it that at the time) to take the lead on a paper involving a subject that I always find myself struggling with. In this way, it was much scarier than taking on something within completely uncharted territory. It’s enough of a leap of faith to take the lead for the first time, but even more of one when dealing with a topic that makes you a little- okay, extremely- nervous.

Luckily, the experience was overwhelmingly positive. I felt that I dealt with the issues of organization and coherence very well, and the writer left with a greater understanding of the elements needed to really strengthen the paper’s thesis. When it came time to discuss the subject itself, my experienced shadow jumped right in and contributed to the writer’s understanding of some of the key terms that were important to the subject. The conversation that followed really took the paper to another level.

Sure, I wished that I had thought of it. I was even a little disappointed in myself for failing to recognize an opportunity for the writer to really go above and beyond in their fulfillment of the assignment. Once I got past my initial worries about the outcome of the session, though, I was able to see that it was actually went really well. The writer left thrilled about both the new direction that their paper had taken and their new understanding of  organization and cohesion. It didn’t matter to that writer that I was apprehensive about the subject matter or that someone else had jumped in. It only mattered that my shadow and I instilled in someone a greater understanding of not only the assignment, but their own process. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

The more time I spend working with writers, the more I come to understand the writing process as a collaborative effort. This session was a perfect example of the collaborative nature of not only writing, but tutoring. It’s pretty refreshing to be surrounded by a group of interesting, intelligent people who are all proficient in different subjects. As tutors, why shouldn’t we use them as resources? After this experience, I know that I’ll be much more comfortable doing just that.

I’m also much more comfortable leading a tutoring session knowing that it’s perfectly okay not to have all the answers. That, to me, is the best part of writing– there are no right answers. As I continue my work with the UCWbL, I hope to always be able to see the beauty in that fact.