Commenting on Coffee and Commenting

By January 28, 2011Peer Writing Tutoring

I had the opportunity to sit in this morning on “Coffee and Commenting,” a forum for DePaul’s Writing Fellows (and some Tutors) to give and receive peer feedback…on our peer feedback.As a new tutor this quarter, one of my most pressing questions has been, “How do I know if I’m doing well?” Particularly with a Feedback-by-Email or online appointment, it can be difficult to establish that all-important relationship between writers. Without that initial face-to-face interaction, it’s  hard to know whether a writer is satisfied or even comfortable with the feedback we are giving them. Coffee and Conversation is a great way for UCWbL Fellows and Tutors to provide one another with feedback on their comments and share tried-and-true best practices with each other. Given all the cool people involved (not to mention the free coffee and pastries), it’s a pretty excellent way to spend a Friday morning.

For those who haven’t done it before, here’s how it works: everyone brings a paper that they’ve commented on in the past, finds a buddy, and they take a half hour to discuss the paper. Lather, rinse, repeat, until the whole group reconvenes to share what they learned and what they found helpful about each other’s tutoring processes.

Although I didn’t have a paper to bring in quite yet, I found this experience invaluable in providing me with tips on how to handle a Feedback-by-Email appointment when I do start getting them. It was also extremely comforting to note that everyone has their own individual tutoring style, and that so many different approaches can be really effective.

Through shadowing appointments and reading up on tutoring theory and pedagogy, I’ve learned more about tutoring writing than I ever knew possible. Coffee and Commenting is a great way for established writers to continue the conversation and to ensure that as tutors, we’re always improving.