Shadow, What shadow?: A Writer’s Journey to Becoming an UCWbLer

By January 15, 2014Peer Writing Tutoring


AfteShadow Picturer discovering at the All-Staff Orientation that I would have to participate in “collaborative observations” I thought “great, I get to watch a returner perform an appointment and I just have to sit there and listen” as if somehow through osmosis, tutoring abilities would enter my heart and soul and like magic I would become an UCWbLer.  Now, don’t misunderstand; of course I wanted to participate in the collaborative observation, but there were concerns that were holding me back.  I was worried that I would give unsatisfactory feedback, since I was merely a newbie.  I also thought, for similar reasons, that the returning tutor would advise me to not participate during the appointment.  I couldn’t have been further from the truth.  The whole point of a collaborative observation is to actually observe.  This is the exact reason why the UCWbL changed the process from “shadowing” to “collaborating.”  A shadow is something that Wendy needs to sew back onto Peter Pan.  It is not how a tutor is trained at the UCWbL.

I was pleasantly surprised by this fact and at the same time absolutely mortified.  After the All-Staff orientation, school had started and it was time for reality to kick in and with that reality came the exciting yet unpredictable realm of working at the UCWbL.  I was nervous and I wasn’t quite sure I was even ready to “collaboratively observe.”  I began to question my decision to join the UCWbL.  Am I cut out for this?  How will I know I am doing the right thing? What is wrong with me? The latter question was the most frustrating battle because reality would show that if I applied for the position and I was selected for the position, then naturally, I have a right to be here.  It is basic math, really.

Alas, I still found myself full with insecurities, questions, and reluctances. The reason for this, I gathered, was that I hadn’t even experienced my first day yet.  Of course I was freaking out; there was still plenty to learn.  This is why the UCWbL has collaborative observations.  I learn from watching, I learn from participating, I learn from asking questions. In this case, there would be no better opportunity to use the word “duh.”

By immersing myself into the tutoring role with the returner, I was able to learn, but I did not just watch; I contributed to the appointment.  I was not the shadow of the tutor.  I was a human collaborator.  I was a tutor.  I am a tutor.  These collaborative observations not only provided me with tools for future appointments, but they highlighted a really important point for me.  I found that I have been sitting on the sidelines for too long and I got a little too comfortable there.  I realized that I can have an input.  Most importantly, I can serve a purpose.  It was just matter of getting out there and tossing those insecurities and worries out the window so that I could become productive.  I abandoned my “shadow-like” tendencies and followed my natural instincts of purpose and confidence.  I must admit it was still a little scary but I realized that I became a better tutor once those insecurities were eliminated.  On the days where my insecurities seem to take over, I just need to remind myself of my journey to this point and recognize that as a writer and as a peer, I qualify as a peer writing tutor rather than merely a shadow.