April 25, 2021
This semester as a writing tutor I became more aware of the need to come to each session prepared and willing to meet students’ individual needs. Early in the semester, I recognized a lack of adaptability in myself and consistent utilization of learning styles and tools that would be ideal for my growth, but not necessarily for that of the student on the other side of the screen. I found that this cookie-cutter approach to tutoring does not cultivate encouragement or growth in the students that come to the Writing Center. Throughout the semester I was able to recognize a need for starting fresh with every session to empower tutees in their learning.
For example, I had the opportunity to tutor some students with dyslexia. These sessions were valuable for my learning and also made me respect these individual students and all students who have various learning challenges. These students exhibited patience for themselves and they were resilient with their work and learning. I needed to come to these sessions open-minded and ready to tailor my tutoring approach to their needs as individuals by “involving the writer in the decision-making process” (Dembsey 8). As opposed to utilizing learning interventions that targeted dyslexia specifically, I identified personal needs and priorities in sessions because individuals with the same diagnosis will not present with the same challenges. Unfortunately, “many writing centers have chosen to identify impairments and then tailor practices based on the impairment” (2) which decreases accessibility and does not meet the diverse needs of individuals. Each of these tutees had their needs that I determine at the beginning of the session to guide their learning and provide encouragement. One student struggled with spelling, while another had a hard time following along as I read. For each, I adapted my tutoring approach to increase their understanding.
A need for adaptability also presented itself with students in various academic faculties and with ESL students. For some, the pace of our session needed to be slower. Other students required more examples to understand the issue at hand. Each student also came with their insecurities and fears. During this semester I became more aware of my tutees’ needs for encouragement during this time. Many expressed discouragement surrounding the Covid-19 Pandemic and online classes. Some students had very little confidence in their work or in their ideas. In these brief sessions, I needed to identify how I could best support them. This was just one of the many lessons that I learned during the Spring 2021 semester as a writing tutor. In the future, I hope to develop new learning strategies to encourage my tutees and strengthen their writing.
Dempsey, J. M. “Naming Ableism in the Writing Center.” Praxis: A Writing Center Journal, vol. 18, no. 1, 2020, pp. 1-12. https://repositories.lib.utexas.edu/handle/2152/84343. Accessed 20 April 2021.