April 7, 2021
This was my first semester working at the Writing Centre, and I had a lovely time being part of the Writing Tutor team. In addition to embedded tutoring, I worked as a Writing Tutor through WriteAway, so these experiences together taught me a lot about editing. For my future career, I hope to be a developmental editor for novels, so while editing academic papers is not exactly the same, there are many significant factors that carry over. I really appreciate becoming more familiar with relevant work in my desired career path, and I cannot wait to develop my skills even further in upcoming semesters.
The takeaway that impacted me the most mirrors Mike Keppell’s chapter in The Future of Learning and Teaching: “Learners need to be supported and empowered to make engagement meaningful” (14). No matter the place or situation, I learned that encouraging the student first should be prioritized before getting down to work. Approaching the possibly daunting task of editing is softened when the student feels their hard work is seen and acknowledged. I know that the student and I are on the same team, but I need to prove it to them through my actions; sometimes, words are not enough to get the student to believe I am working with and for them. With some positive reinforcement to start the session, I find that skeptical attitudes quickly melt away. As well, when I identify what the student is doing well, they know how they can keep up the good work and implement it into their future writing.
Writing is hard and it is important to acknowledge that! Especially now more than ever, students need to feel supported in their pursuits and empowered to find the determination to keep working hard. The lack of community and in-person lectures can be dejecting at times, so a little bit of encouragement can go a long way. Through the many papers I edited this semester, I know that as long as there are words in front of me, there is always something a student did well. This area can be more concrete—I like that your topic sentences are always clear to understand—or more abstract—Your passion for this topic really shines through in your writing—but there is always room for compliments at the beginning of the session.
This idea of positive reinforcement was first introduced to me through training for WriteAway, but quickly carried over to my face-to-face sessions. In addition to improving students’ writing, I believe that an important aspect of my job as a writing tutor is to empower my students with confidence in their abilities. After all, who doesn’t like receiving compliments on their hard work?
Kym Fraser. The Future of Learning and Teaching in Next Generation Learning Spaces. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2014.