Monday, February 1, 2010

GoG: 28: The Amazing Tutoring Session

On Thursday, I spent my second Thursday of the semester at IUPUI, tutoring papers. I had only one session scheduled for the whole day. A student came in, asking for help with an essay for an internship. She told me she needed to send it out later that day and that she came in for some last minute help. ..... I went into the reading of the essay thinking, "Okay ... some quick grammar, and we're outta here." But it turned into so much more than that.

Get ready ... only English majors get really excited about what I'm about to share. :)

At the IUPUI University Writing Center, we do so much more than just "check your grammar." And so it is awesome to have a student like Amanda sit down at the tutoring table ready to work. ... She told me she had been to the writing center a couple of times for this essay, and I could tell she was eager to get more help from me. That always helps the session go better, just knowing that the student is excited for feedback. We started reading, and in the first paragraph, we took a look at her "main idea," the idea that she would point back to throughout her essay ... the reason she wanted to be apart of the internship. We organized the sentence in such a way that her idea was not only clearer but introduced the idea rather than just throwing it at us (the audience) out of nowhere. When we finished and started to move on, she said, "Yeah, I really like that."

As we continued through the draft, we came across some good ideas ... but they were quite broad. At this point, we had the chance to discuss specific details. Specific details are a lot of fun to talk about with tutees because the writing turns into more of a conversation. A lot of students like to use general terms like "opportunities" or "things" or "jobs" or "this" or "that" etc. If you notice, these are very vague terms. We can go so much deeper than this kind of language. And that's what makes a conversation. With Amanda, I had the opportunity to ask her questions, probe a little deeper into what she was wanting to convey to her audience. She found out that she had some really good stuff to put down ... she just didn't realize she needed to. .... For all you writers out there, specifics are always good. The more specific you are, the better. But also, keep it narrow enough that your audience doesn't get bored and lose ya. ;) .... So we talked about specific details ... and really had a good ... well ... chat. :)

Lastly, we worked on some good ol' organization. In the drafting process, it is always good to just spit your ideas out. I like to say ... "Just puke something out onto the paper, and then go back and clean it up!" You wanna get all of your good stuff out before you forget it, right? :) .... Some students do that, but then they don't clean it all up afterwards. And some students just have a tough time with organization. Organizing your thoughts is a tough job. .... Well, Amanda did a pretty good job of organizing her thoughts ... but we did some final touch ups ... and it really turned out nice in the end.

What I liked most about the session is that it was a conversation about Amanda's writing. Some sessions are teaching lessons ... I find myself teaching the tutee about certain elements of the writing process. Teaching is good! We do that in the writing center too! But overall, tutoring should be a conversation between the tutor and the tutee. So it's always great when it turns out that way. ..... The session was one of the best sessions in my 3 years at the writing center. Probably in the top 5. :) .... And it was just a huge blessing! .... My goal for the semester is, what I like to call, "the three c's" ... Be Clear, Concise, and Confident. And that's what I did ... all three in one session! It's always great to be confident in your abilities. And confidence is just another act of God's grace in my life. :)

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