December 11, 2020
My first semester as a writing tutor has been fun and insightful. Growing up, I always liked learning English grammar and writing essays and book reviews. In university, I have an opportunity to help others with their academic writing. As an international student, I helped other international students to recognize their achievements as they write university level essays in another language. Sometimes, we tend to feel frustrated when our English writing is not as good as other’s. In my sessions, I tried to give support and encouragement for their writing styles and abilities. At the beginning of this semester, I was a little nervous about helping others with their writing without sounding critical and judgmental. I was also nervous that I was not going to be taken seriously because English is not my first language. After these four months, I can say that I overcame these fears. I got to help several people with their ideas, outlines and grammar while being appreciated at the same time. I got to see several international students slowly come to understand their regular mistakes and learning how to recognize them and fix them. I had weekly students that liked my session plan, enjoyed brainstorming with me and felt comfortable to discuss their ideas and concerns about their writing. In my embedded class, I was able to see a gradual improvement in some of the students that would come to me regularly. I noticed how their questions went from broad topics and concerns to specific aspects of their writing or grammar that they has recognized and did not know how to fix. As they were getting comfortable with writing essays, I was getting comfortable with helping them in their process.
One of my highlights in the beginning of the semester was when I got to explain the use of commas to a student. The idea of basically teaching a topic in one of my sessions sounded extremely nerve-wracking at the beginning, but once I was confident that I knew the topic, I had no problem giving my explanation and examples. It was actually very fun doing exercises and explaining why commas happened in the sentences.
I share the good things about being a tutor, I think it’s important to share the not-so-good parts about being a tutor this year. I has uncomfortable situations happened while in session, but I am happy to say I have learned from my mistakes. Sometimes during my sessions, students will be rushed or shy to interact with me. This discouraged me several times. As I had more sessions, I came up with three or two questions that I could always ask the students in order to introduce each other and have a welcoming and open environment. This became a way for people to see me as a friend that was helping them rather than a tutor that judges their writing. Having this openness made them and me more comfortable during the sessions. I am excited to see how my sessions develop as I encounter new challenges next semester.