While tutoring in the writing center you overhear a lot of different conversations, as well as participate in many, that are very interesting. I have heard discussions of the latest presidential debate, arguments that Disney is a cult, and explanations for why endless works of art mean the things they mean. These conversations spark other conversations between tutors and their thoughts on the topic. Friendly debates ensue as our different backgrounds and cultural beliefs effect what and how we argue. The fact that we have the ability to do this, to feel comfortable enough around each other in order to interact in ways beyond that of just simply tutoring, allows us to come together as a community, which results in us being better tutors as a whole.
The fact that we have the ability to tutor with the knowledge that we aren’t completely on our own when we do so is very comforting. This simple knowledge allows us to relax during an appointment. This results in us not becoming unprofessional, but in us tutoring more successfully because it takes away a lot of the pressure. Feeling comfortable enough with another person to have a friendly debate, to talk about things outside of tutoring, makes us feel more comfortable to ask for help. Or, it makes us comfortable enough to jump in if we see another tutor struggling.
The sense of community that comes from this comfort level and the collaboration that we do is beneficial not only to us but to the people we tutor. When a writer walks into a place that has a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, then they are going to feel more comfortable. When a writer feels comfortable, they are more receptive to the help we are trying to give, and the less overwhelmed they will feel by all of the information that we are throwing at them during an appointment. We are also less likely to get frustrated when appoints are not going the way we would like them to.
There are several ways you can build a sense of community within your writing center; it doesn’t always have to be the ability to talk to each other about current political issues or going out with your coworkers after your shift. Simple things like working in an environment that is open so people can easily talk to each other, having a community break room where people can gather, or just having events that make the tutors do things together can build this community and make the space you work in a more comfortable and enjoyable space, which benefits everyone.