December 14, 2021
This semester, I got to experience in-person sessions as a writing tutor in the Writing Centre. I have been a writing tutor for a year now, but I was only able to work in-person this fall. The idea of helping students outside of the screen was slightly intimidating because I knew the sessions follow out differently than in an online environment. For these in person sessions, I had to keep several things in mind like the session’s plan, the health safety measures and the students’ comfortability. However, as the semester went on, I learned the importance of being aware of neurodivergent students. More specifically, working in the Writing Centre broadened my perspective of neurodivergent students and how to accommodate to fulfill their sessions’ objectives.
I had the opportunity of closely working with a student that had a hearing disability. He was part of my embedded students that were required to see me once a week. Beforehand, his professor had explained to me his situation with his known strengths and weaknesses in class time. In the first meeting that we had together, he immediately let me know about his hearing disability and about his questions on the week’s assignment. I appreciated his honesty and his confidence in acknowledging his personal challenge firsthand. Knowing about his personal disability allowed me to prepare my sessions to accommodate to his needs. As the article, “Neurodiversity is for Everyone”, describes, “People have very different experiences of the world, and unless we listen to them when they tell us about what makes their lives difficult and what helps, we often make things worse” (Oolong, 2019). In every session, it was clear to me that he was interested and engaged in finding the answers to his questions in order to begin his assignments. After some sessions with this student, I began implementing writing strategies that would make it easier for him to learn and understand each session’s objectives. I remember in one session, he let me know that it was better for me to sit on the side where his hearing aid was to hear my explanations better. As a result, our sessions had a specific seating arrangement that assisted his learning process. In addition, I implemented whiteboards and notepads in the Writing Centre to create mind maps and color code different sections. I noticed an improvement in his rate of understanding instructions or essay structures after implementing these learning strategies.
With this specific situation in mind, I learned a valuable skill for future writing sessions. Trinity Western University has several neurodivergent students that need as much help, if not more than other students. An article on neurodiversity illustrates that “disability, roughly speaking, is the inability to do things that people are normally expected to be able to do. That makes it a mismatch between a person and their physical and social environment — including other people’s expectations” (Oolong, 2019). Understanding these challenges and conditions, allows us, as writing tutors, to accommodate to these students’ needs. Ergo, helping them with their writing process no matter their disabilities.
Oolong. (2019, October 19). Neurodiversity is for Everyone. https://oolong.medium.com/neurodiversity-is-for-everyone-f375a27aa3c9