April 25, 2021
This semester was not what I was expecting after my first semester in the Writing Commons. Even though I was the embedded tutor for the same course with the same professor, it did not go as I expected. At the beginning, it was easier to get into the routine of contacting students, communicating with faculty and getting ready for meetings. I personally struggled to connect with this group of students for this new semester. I think it was my body struggling to cope with the online environment. As my regular meetings went on, I began noticing that my international students were probably feeling the same thing. They were experiencing their first semester in a pretty unconventional way. They were probably feeling more disconnected than I was since all of their university was packed in their computer when they would go online to connect with us. Even though we have out platform moved to online to continue to help the student, I realized how tough it can be for some students that want help struggle with the time difference. Doctor Ruth Brown (2001) explains, “Students utilizing computer-mediated communication said they generally took a longer period of time to create bonds of friendship, community or camaraderie than they might have in face-to-face associations.”. For this reason, I decided to start all of my meetings with different conversational topics. I asked my students about their country, their major, their plans every time before starting our sessions. I will write their answers and stories on a notebook so I could remember what they had shared with me for our next session. I think this made my sessions a little more entertaining and I felt like I was making connections with the students that they enjoyed. I noticed a significant change in their attitudes and their willingness to share and comment more on their writing. I realized how important it is to make your students feel comfortable around you. Specifically, international students that are new to the school probably want to get a sense of what campus life is like, or what studying in a university in Canada feels like. Personally, I enjoy sharing my experiences with international students and making them feel excited about what to expect in Canada. It is even more exciting when the students tell me about their arrival to Canada now that they got their study permit. They are so excited to finally experience their studies in a foreign country other than through their computer. By the end of the semester, my students were comfortable enough to talk to me about their writing and express their struggles. I also saw incredible improvement from the way they worked things with me. Some of my students realized that it was for their best interest to have some of their drafts done for us to go over than discussing their future moves or writing steps. Building relationships with them benefitted their work and our sessions. I think this is something that I want to keep incorporating in my sessions for next semester if I get to become an embedded tutor again.
Brown, R. E. (2001). The process of community-building in distance-learning class. JALN 5(2), 18-35.