April 27, 2022
This semester, I have had the opportunity to take the time to observe how my role as a writing tutor for the past 7 years has transformed me as both a peer educator and a human being. This reflection will expound upon what I have learned, enjoyable experiences, mistakes I have made, and how my skills as a writing tutor have been renovated and sharpened over the years.
What I have learned
Over the past few years, I have learned the importance of forming relationships with the students that I tutor during appointments. I have noticed that they more consistently book sessions with me if I show interest in their personal lives, encourage them, and share personal details about my own life circumstances. This semester, students opened up to me about upcoming surgeries, broken friendships, and their absence or loss of faith. I found that as a result of the conversations we had concerning those topics, our student-to-peer-tutor bond was reinforced. It made appointments more comfortable, and I felt that students knew that I cared about them, which increased their trust in my ability to guide them academically. I would say that I already was aware of the significance of being relational with students prior to this semester, but my understanding of just how essential it is increased. I hope to grow in my abilities to connect to others, as well as in my sensitivity to how to relate to others.
A few specific things come to mind when I think of the enjoyable experiences that I have had this past semester. One of them is the end-of-semester pizza party that we did together with students in the graduate collegium (see photo at bottom of page). Not only was there food and socializing, but it was a helpful tool in spreading the word about the Writing Centre, and I got to help a student with her final paper for a course I had already taken (the dream!). Other enjoyable experiences consist of time spent with my coworkers (meetings, snack breaks, etc.) and moments during appointments where funny things are said or written. It is moments like these that reminded me of why I like this job so much. These moments also remind me to take time to enjoy life with the people around me.
Mistakes I Have Made
Unfortunately, I consistently made the mistake of taking on too much with this job. I eventually found a great balance, but I wish it had happened earlier on as opposed to this semester. This issue was not necessarily that I tended to take on too many hours per week, although that was a problem at first. Rather, as time progressed, I found that my issue was doing too much during one shift without taking time to rest in between appointments. Because I am someone who is easily overwhelmed, I need to take breaks after about an hour of work that requires my full attention. This is generally true, and I am glad that I have seen the extent to which having this little break affects me. I used to walk away from shifts at the Writing Centre feeling totally depleted of all energy, as well as a little anxious. This was not the case for me during this past semester, because I made myself available on the schedule for time periods that were appropriate for my personal stress levels. I would take thirty-minute breaks when I needed them, and this helped to revive me so that I could be in a good place for the next appointment. A huge takeaway from this is that I should avoid taking on too much at all costs. It is difficult for me to do anything when I feel wiped out, and I am less enjoyable to be around. My ideal adult self is someone who is cheerful, consistent and reliable with my work, and responsible with how I exert myself.
Writing Tutor Skills
Over the past few years, I have gained more confidence in the overall process of coming alongside students. There is a natural rhythm to a session, and it is much easier for me now to adjust as necessary when students have a writing style, assignment, etc. that I have not been exposed to in the past. My intuition for a student’s needs are more fine-tuned than they were initially; I have more ease with identifying students’ unfelt needs and finding ways to incorporate them into the session along with their felt needs that they have specified.
To conclude, I have thoroughly enjoyed my time as a writing tutor. There have been highs and lows, and I have had to learn a few things the hard way. Nonetheless, I believe that my time with this job has allowed me to gain skills that I will use for the rest of my life with potential ESL students I may teach, potential children I may have, etc. In addition, I think qualities such as patience, problem-solving, and the ability to maintain balance in one’s life are helpful for almost every circumstance. I am grateful to have had a position that allowed me to grow in these abilities and virtues.