April 22, 2021
April 20, 2021 marks the end of me working at the writing centre. This past year of working at the writing centre was not only my first year working here, but also a year of helping and guiding students online. Although there were definitely challenges and hurdles to be jumped over, I also learned a lot and took a lot of what it means to be a good helper and tutor from both the students and my colleagues. One of the most important lessons I learned this past year was how to best present and guide the students through their tasks, so they don’t feel overwhelmed but instead leave with determination and confidence.
One of the most recurring themes with the students that come to meet me was how overwhelming their tasks are and how challenging online learning is. With COVID restricting and drastically changing our lives, many of the students I have met with are stuck in a different time zone trying to juggle both schoolwork and how to make peace with the whole pandemic. Another additional struggle is the loneliness they feel regarding their schoolwork and courses. No matter how many emails the professors email out to express their concerns and their support, it is just not the same as face-to-face, in-person connections that students can get when they are on campus. With these unchangeable factors in mind, how can I, a writing tutor, help and support the students that come to meet me was the main focus and target this semester.
Looking at the root of the students’ struggles, students all feel overwhelmed and stressed because online learning is not what they are used to, and they are not sure what they are supposed to do in their courses. Therefore, I have learned that it is crucial to walk through the assignment with them and put the assignment into simple steps. I found that after students realize that the assignment is not as big as they imagined it to be, their subconscious “mind block” gets lifted. As a result, they feel more relaxed and become more openminded regarding their current situation. Next, I found that setting up and creating a plan of what to do and how to do it was very helpful. Having a clear direction of where to go next can be very comforting when feelings of stress and anxiety take over. Additionally, providing examples and step-by-step guide in how to reach specific goals discussed in the session can be very supportive in helping students reach the steps. Online learning requires a lot of motivation and self-guidance from the student. Not only that, for some students, online teaching does not match with their learning style. As a result, a lot of the things taught go unprocessed. Therefore, one should never assume that a student has already understood a concept or a way of writing without any teaching or guidance done.
COVID has changed many things not just for tutors but also for the students. During this year of online tutoring at the writing centre, I have realized the importance of face-to-face connection in an education setting and how vital it is to validate students’ feelings. Overall, I have learned that through validation of feelings and guidance of how to resolve and overcome those feelings, students can regain the confidence and determination they once had and finish the school year on a strong note.