The Partial Move Back to Normal
December 13, 2021
This semester Trinity tried to move back to in-person and after a year living through Zoom boxes, this came as a big adjustment. Of course, we didn’t travel back to 2019, but we tried to balance our world. Masks were still mandatory, online sessions were still an option, and sanitizing was still a priority. So, this was a partial move or the new normal everybody was talking about.
As a history student, I don’t believe that history repeats itself, but I believe that through the past and present, we see patterns. This time, we really wanted to fit into our old patterns and habits. However, we still had to make room for the new. Through this multiaccess scenario, we still had to find our routine through all access options.
Therefore, our boss, Emily, planned double our usual training, preparing us for the Writing Centre’s multiaccess stance for FALL 2021.
This multiaccess approach steered our training towards the discussion about how we cater to diverse students. Students at Trinity come from all walks of life and from a range of spectrums including race, age, neurology and more. Since this partial move back to the pre-COVID era was an in-between phase, the overload of options was stressful for all. Therefore, it was imperative the Writing Centre provide assistance across all diverse plains. We learnt about different techniques customized to a particular diversity spectrum during our weekly meetings. I have listed two of them below.
Many of our students are non-native English speakers, including myself. It is vital that writing tutors are well-equipped to guide and help them efficiently. Multilingual student’s may face a cultural barrier that presents itself in their thinking pattern and writing; for example, a group-based approach vs an individualistic Western approach (Strategies for Basic Writers and ESL Student). Patience, active listening and rephrasing advice proved to be useful techniques when coaching multilingual learners in easing their transition to North American academic writing.
This in-between period is stressful to neuro-typical and neuro-divergent people the same. The abundance of options in structure and schedule was overwhelming for all of us. We understood that “Those whose brains work strikingly differently from the norm — neurodivergent people, including autistics, dyslexics, ADHDers and so on — run into all sorts of invisible barriers, from inaccessible sensory environments to assumptions of incompetence to social exclusion” (Oolong). Therefore, we needed to make our sessions accessible to them. Some useful techniques included use of visuals and movement like a white board or colourful sticky notes to make the session less monotonous. Breaking the monotony of sessions kept students engaged and responsive while adjusting to their preferred form of learning.
I like to think that the Writing Centre somehow helped students through the overwhelming nature of this semester since Assignments and Papers remained constant. Not only did this training help me efficiently assist racially and neurologically diverse students, but also transformed my self-study routine. I included visual and colourful elements to my notes that really helped me focus better.
Oolong. “Neurodiversity is for Everyone.” Oolong. https://oolong.medium.com/neurodiversity-is-for-everyone-f375a27aa3c9. Accessed 13 Dec. 2021.
“Strategies for Basic Writers and ESL Student.” Moodle. Accessed 13 Dec. 2021.