A few weeks ago, I went to the tutor presentation held on Friday, November 4th. Overall, I thought all the presenters brought something different and shared some very helpful tips and information. In the first presentation, a tutor presenter explained that whenever one is assigned a paper assignment, one should be aware that there is never enough time. So, it is crucial to follow directions and get the reading done and do the outline the following day. I wholeheartedly agree with this, especially because it really helps to jot down my ideas while the reading is fresh in my mind. I think it is a problem that a lot of students have in general; procrastination affects everyone at some point, and as Levine tells, some people are even genetically wired to be lazy. Realizing that there is not enough time is a good reality check before the deadline to get people going in writing, which should take a considerable amount of time to be of good quality. Indeed, to make a point that the final product of writing does not come from the first try, the presenter used a very interesting analogy. She compared the process of writing to a preparation for performance (such as dancing and singing): unless the person is a complete genius, both of these things take a lot of practice and effort to produce the final result. This is what I try to let my tutees know as well. Sometimes they freak out about having horrible rough drafts that will lead them nowhere in writing solid final drafts. That is a serious misconception. Surely, rough drafts, as the name suggests, are not perfect and need a lot of work to reach the stage of final draft. In fact, that can only be done if students are willing to commit their time without getting distracted and to consistently analyze what they can do to make it a better paper.
Furthermore, I learned that when writing, one should solely be a writer instead of trying to take multiple roles, such as an editor. I actually think I do that sometimes, and I agree that proofreading should come after writing. As one writes, it already takes a lot of effort just to form a coherent argument using various textual evidence and one’s own ideas. Now, imagine trying to nitpick about all the small grammatical mistakes and typos along the way. Proofreading can sometimes really interfere with one’s concentration on writing and even become a distraction. Thus, it makes sense to be just a writer and not to “multi-task” during writing. Another idea that I liked was how she explained that it helps to have a thesis written on a separate sheet of paper. That way, students can frequently go back and tweak their theses if needed and see if what they are writing constantly relates back to the main idea. A lot of my students have difficulty coming up with a solid, complex thesis, which I, too, sometimes have trouble with. I think I will suggest doing this to some of my students so that they do not have to worry about having a “correct” thesis the first time. Instead, they can start with some kind of thesis in the beginning and as they write, they can go back to this separate “thesis paper” and make changes on that paper to form a better, relatable thesis. Thesis is a serious factor that can make or break the paper, so I think thesis “deserves” to have its own sheet of paper. Overall, it is a good way of organizing the writing process.
The second presentation was something that I was very excited about: it was a presentation about how to do a proper presentation! I have a presentation coming up in Spanish class, and I thought I could use some helpful tips from a professional (I think the presentation was done by a professor, but I do not remember his name). First and foremost, understanding your audience is crucial to a good, engaging presentation. Often, inviting the audience to participate can result in a very interactive environment. That is what I usually try to do because in a sense, the presentation is for a grade, but more importantly, it is primarily for the audience. I think when it comes to presentations, it is the presenter’s job to become an expert in the particular topic and inform the audience in the most interesting way possible. If, for some reason, the audience starts dozing off, one cannot blame the audience because it is the presenter’s job to help them focus on the presentation by not making it boring. Moreover, being selective about presented information is very important as well: one may think everything is important to the presentation, but it might be a good idea to ask someone else to go over and say what is really essential. I thought it was very interesting that he distinguished between illustrating and visualizing the information, in which the former is a passive form and the latter is a potentially active form. This means that in an illustrative method, the presenter spells out everything for the audience, whereas in a visualizing method, the presenter lets the audience to make their own interpretations and take an active position towards the presentation.
I think some of these ideas can be applied in tutoring sessions, even though we are not actually doing presentations during these sessions. Just as how it is important to understand audience, it helps to understand our tutees. Exploring their weaknesses, strengths, interests, and dislikes will come in handy when we help them write. Effectively engaging our tutees is vital as well, similar to how interacting with audience makes presentations more interesting. After all, the tutoring session is meant to help the tutees, but if they are not fully engaged, that must mean they are not getting much out of these sessions. In addition, as the rules of minimalist tutoring states, our job is not to spell out all the answers in front of the students. We do not want to go with the “illustrative method” but rather choose the visualizing method, in which we leave some room for the students to investigate their own ideas and connections. Rather than dictating what they need to write, we should leave bits and pieces of clues that will eventually lead students to visualize their own picture and write an original paper.