I attended the tutor presentation on Wednesday, November 9th. The first of three presenters discussed her women’s and gender studies thesis, the second broke down the article “The Myth of Laziness” into a PowerPoint presentation, and the third talked about her future career in occupational therapy. These three topics seem unrelated, but I felt that they actually fit together really well. The overall theme that I took away from the three presentations was one that I could apply to my tutoring sessions; the importance of understanding the individual needs of each tutee.
The first presenter explored the reasons that people feel uncomfortable when they write, and concluded that it is because they have trouble encountering their ‘self’ in their writing. I think that this is a really common problem with the Expos students that I have tutored. Some students, because they are not allowed to use the word “I” in their essays, have trouble voicing their own opinions and understanding the relevance to the issues they are writing about in terms of their own life. This becomes even more difficult when students try to conform to a very academic sounding style of writing. As tutors, we need to help students become more comfortable writing, and I think that comes by helping them find their own voice.
The second presenter talked about “output failure.” According to Levine, some students who appear lazy may actually suffer from output failure, which comes from some hidden handicaps that make it extremely difficult for a student to be productive. I think that this is true of many students I have worked with. They have interesting ideas and good intentions when they think about their assignment, but something happens in processing stage which affects their final paper. I think that one of these handicaps, similar to the first presenter’s idea, is that these students encounter difficulty locating themselves in their writing, and they are not sure of the expectations of their professor. As a tutor I try to encourage the students I work with as much as possible, in order to decrease their negative emotions toward writing.
The third presenter explained the goal of an occupational therapist, which is to help their patient become independent. That is similar to what we do as tutors; we give students the tools to become better writers, who are able to recognize the weaknesses in their papers and know how to fix them without relying on a tutor. Therapy changes depending on the client, so as a tutor we must change in order to help each tutee in the most effective way.
Overall, tutoring is a form of therapy. For therapy to be effective the therapist—or in this case tutor—must personalize their approach in order to connect with the person they are working with. Sometimes, the best way of connecting with students is to just help them feel more comfortable writing, by listening to their problems and being a figure that cares about both them and their writing on a personal level.