One of the most pivotal days so far in my experience at the UCWbL was my first day at work. I was nervous about the staff, the expectations that everyone held for me, and my abilities as a tutor. However, as clichéd as it may seem, I felt immediately at ease in the community at the Writing Center. The first calming realization I came to was that I would have a mentor for the day who would guide me through every detail of daily life at the UCWbL. Maggie M.’s mentorship allowed me to learn everything necessary for that day, whether it be how to use the writing center web page, or where to find the coffee pot.
After having my initial tour, and being given time to ask questions, we dived into the interview portion of my assignment for that week’s class. Having the interview assignment was a great way to get to know my fellow workers and their experiences at UCWbL. I think that having the structure of the assignment was a perfect way to make sure I truly got to know my fellow tutors on the first day. I also had the chance to shadow two tutor sessions my first day, which gave me the opportunity to get an idea of what a tutor’s job entails.
I was able to see both a written feedback as well as a face-to-face appointment. The written feedback with Maggie was crucial towards my training, because it allowed me to draw ideas on different techniques for future appointments. I was able to see how important tone was in addressing someone through an online appointment. Although this seems like common sense, Maggie gave me devices and phrases that would allow my student to feel more comfortable. A personal favorite of the day was “as your reader”, which allowed me to make suggestions without sounding too directive or forceful in my opinions.
In the face-to-face appointment I was also given the opportunity to see how helpful reading an assignment aloud could be in starting off an appointment, specifically if the student needs to work on grammar, flow, and organization. I learned that reading aloud together allows you to organize your notes and gather your first impressions of the paper, while also keeping the student engaged. After the final shadowing, I felt like I had a solid concept of what both work and community looked like in terms of the writing center.
Reflecting back on that day, the staff truly new how to make me feel included. I can also attest to the fact that the give-and-take between structured assignments and free time to familiarize myself with the center was what ultimately made a difference between a potentially awkward first day and what was actually a seamless initiation.
Tara M. is a tutor in the Writing Center.