December 11, 2020
Very often, growing up, I thought that I was a terrible writer. Most of the reason that drove this belief was my speed. I always have tended to write very slowly, and because of this I dreaded any assignment that involved me writing even a paragraph. Indeed, even now, I rewrote the introductory sentence to this reflection several times. Though I have since learned some mitigating factors that have helped me waste less time and be less perfectionistic, it still takes me a long time to get my thoughts on paper.
That said, I have found that working at the Writing Center has encouraged me to keep improving. Though it is tempting for me to edit my paper as I go (see previous paragraph), I am always reminded that at first it really is faster to throw content and see what sticks rather than spend time editing what I may delete later. This alone has made me a better writer.
I also have experienced the dilemmas that I imagine professors face. What matters most when making corrections? How do I teach students without doing it all for them? How I can get them to make corrections more independently? Based on the number of times that I have thought these things in only the past three months, I have more respect for professors who must shoulder these concerns as well as actually taking care of all the necessary administration work and lecture material.
I would like to think that the students that have seen me have become better at writing because of their sessions. Being an embedded tutor meant that I was able to watch students grow over the course of the semester, and it made me happy to see students catching their mistakes in real time after I had demonstrated an example for them. It also proved to be helpful for me, and I believe for the students, in creating little points of human contact in a very quarantined world. Though restrictions and COVID-19 cases were causes for a lot of fear and anxiety this past semester, I was still able to connect with a lot of the student population here. While a lot of the customers were first year students I did not know, I really liked this aspect of tutoring, since I have been part of the Transitions team here for my third year running and am used to connecting with new students. It was also fun working with acquaintances that I knew from other classes or clubs on campus, and getting to know more about their own major or classes.
Perhaps my most intimidating customers were the students getting their Master’s degree. These students were both significantly more educated and experienced than me, as well as being older. Even the fact that I knew more English than they did left me tempted to feel unworthy. That said, I was glad that I was still able to be of use to them, and interacting with this group of people, who were so different from myself, proved to be one of the best experiences of the semester. If I had only seen first year students at the Writing Centre, I would have been able to rest on my laurels and not think as hard during sessions. Because these older and more capable students were also coming to me for help, I believe I may have challenged myself to research more during sessions and thus ensure I was providing only the best advice.
In sum, I would say that it pays to do hard things. Though I did not used to think I was a good writer in the past, and though I talk to customers twice my age, I now do so with confidence. I am glad that I have expanded my skill set, and provided value for others.