December 13, 2021
As this was my first semester as a writing tutor, I do not have a lot of experience to compare this semester to. One of the major takeaways was how supportive the team was. As I am a graduate student in counselling psychology at TWU, my schedule is intensely busy with events, studying, assignments and deep introspection that often, drains me beyond an emotional feeling I ever thought I even had. I was appreciative of the plethora of meetings and check-ins the Writing Centre offered. There is also a wonderfully intentional advocacy for taking breaks and self-care, something I am not used to experience in a work environment. I will also be eternally grateful to work in a place that moves their schedule around mine. I am sure others can vouch but being a student and trying to fit in a work schedule can be tedious work that sometimes feels impossible.
At the beginning of the semester, I struggled with technology and logistics, having issues with logging in and accessing Zoom meetings. I also found the extensive amount of training modules overwhelming at times, but when I broke these up, significantly manageable. I truly believe this was only because I was learning a new system in a new job as well as endeavoring on a new program. I am not familiar with Microsoft Teams, so I had to learn how to navigate this app as well.
The tutoring itself was a mix of rewarding, eye-opening and draining. During long hours, where I was booked back-to-back, I notice an exhaustion in myself after a long day. I do not think I could work more than 5 hours a day as I was doing, at max. At times, it is especially draining. There were some interesting scenarios that I had to navigate, including setting boundaries in conversation, and making sure students were aware that the Writing Centre does not write assignments for students. As I am a new tutor, there were questions that I of course, could not answer and had to seek out answers.
I also appreciated and noticed, certain students would come back to try even harder and become even better writers. When there is a certain desire to grow and improve in students, it makes the long days go by quicker. It feels empowering. It is also easier to work with students who seem to really value their learning and take their classes seriously. To contrast, I find it difficult to work with students who do not seem to be so invested. I must remind myself of the limitations and rather than judge, remind myself that I can notice how draining this makes me and perhaps enter these sessions with a hot chocolate or coffee to help get through the sessions. I may also have to revert to square one and begin brainstorming again or a first step on the Bloom’s Taxonomy. I also find myself pulled towards those students who are more stressed out writing their assignments with obvious anxiety symptoms (not necessarily embodying anxiety). I find myself talking in a way that lets them know that first, they are not alone and second, this paper will not last forever, henceforth the feelings will not (even though it totally feels like this sometimes) and does not indicate anything about your worth as a student. This to me is further evidence that I am taking up space in a place I care about and that I find myself pulled towards helping these students.
In conclusion, I valued my time tremendously at the Writing Centre. It seems like a very caring environment that thrives on growth, improvement and wanting the absolute best for students. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas and that people enjoy their break, whatever that looks like to you.