December 11, 2020
This semester as a Writing Tutor was especially difficult because of the pandemic. Many students were incredibly anxious because of feelings of isolation and confusion, since they did not have the same type of access to classrooms and their professors. Because of technological issues, sometimes it was unusually difficult to meet and interact with students. Occasionally, the internet would cut out in the middle of a Zoom meeting and we would have to rush to find some sort of solution. The positive aspects of having to work as a Writing Tutor during the pandemic are that I learned an incredible number of new technical skills, including how to operate software like Zoom, MS Teams, Discord, and Whova. At first, tutoring online felt awkward. Not being able to see people’s faces at times made it difficult to gauge their mood and reactions. However, as the semester progressed, I became very comfortable with the media, as did most of the students I was assisting.
This was the first semester I served as an embedded tutor. I worked in English 103 for Dr. Monika Hilder. I was surprised by how many of the students chose not to book sessions (at least at first), despite repeated requests to sign up and the hope of better grades if they spent time working with tutors through some of their writing issues. Approximately 40% of the students in the sections I helped tutor did, finally, attend tutoring sessions with me. When students met with me once, they were often inspired to come back repeatedly. Almost all of them gave me positive feedback and expressed that they were grateful for the assistance. Quite a few of the students I tutored reported to me that their grades had significantly improved because of our tutoring sessions.
As usual, it took an effort to balance my own research and writing with my tutoring duties, but a lot less than I expected. I was once again really encouraged to be working as a Writing Tutor because I feel passionate about it and I believe that I am really making a difference in other students’ lives. It is also improving my own writing significantly because I am regularly inspired to research a number of issues related to grammar, style, structure, formatting, etc. in order to assist other students. Then when I am working through my own writing strategies, these issues often come up and I am more easily able to resolve them.
Sometimes it feels strange that I am helping students who are farther along in their studies than I am. I have been working with a number of graduate students in the Master of Leadership program. However, I find that these students struggle with many of the same problems that undergraduate students do. The ESLI students have particular issues that were initially more difficult for me to identify and help resolve. However, I feel that I have now become better at assisting students whose first language is not English.