Gayathri Fonseka | April 27, 2023
From the time I enrolled in the MA Linguistics program at TWU, I have always benefitted from the writing help I received from the writing tutors. Back then, I had a small thought that it would be great if I got an opportunity to work as a writing tutor. Earlier this semester, I heard that the Writing Centre has some positions available, and I wanted to give it a try. I joined the Writing Centre in early February and spent the first couple of weeks observing peer tutors. I learned a lot by observing them and how they managed their time and the situation. Little by little, I was able to follow the rhythm and by around mid-March, I found myself comfortable working as a tutor. At times, it was challenging to shift from one subject to another when there were four to five back-to-back appointments. However, at the end of the day, I loved the exposure, learnings, and the people I met.
One of the most rewarding things that I received working at the Writing Centre is the heart-touching appreciation from students who happily walk out after a successful tutoring session. Also, I loved working with students from diverse backgrounds. l enjoyed getting to know them, their cultures, and the various fields of study that they are engaged in. Not to mention the fun I had working with young people, listening to their stories, and sharing their energy.
Drawing the line between a writing tutor and a teaching assistant has always been complicated. I always tell myself ‘I am not a TA’. Especially when it comes to embedded classes. I believe from the perspective of students, especially those who are new to the university system, writing tutors are a type of teaching assistant. Letting the students know what a writing tutor can and cannot do before the session is more helpful and does not disappoint the student later in the session.
Among many other things that I learned; it was helpful for me to learn the writing strategies that Rafoth (2000) states in the chapter ‘Helping Writers to Write Analytically’. He states the importance of using outside sources to help students think analytically about the subject. I have used that strategy with students and have always found it helpful to enable them to think and articulate their opinions. Also, this strategy is helpful when I do not have much knowledge of the specific subject that the student is working on. The students have a good understanding of the subject they are taking, and we have to guide them on how to express their ideas by using outside examples. It was encouraging to see how the students improved their level of articulation after a couple of appointments.
Finally, Emily’s supportiveness made the work easier and more rewarding. I appreciate her for allocating other projects that align with our interests to further explore our potential and help us learn more. In the next semester, I look forward to helping more students to improve their writing skills.
Greiner, A. (2000). Tutoring in unfamiliar subjects. In B. Rafoth (Ed.), A tutor’s guide: Helping writers one to one (pp. 115–119). Heinemann Boynton/Cook.