I started tutoring and teaching writing years ago (seemingly centuries ago), so the view that writing is a process that involves developing ideas was not at all new. However, I still liked the manner in which Longman succinctly captured the art of writing, especially with the metaphor of jazz, “In jazz improvisation, learning a new sequence often starts with copying someone else’s spontaneous riff; after a while, you make that riff your own, adding shading, tone, or sounds that are unique to you. So it goes with tutoring writing” (6).
Longman Chapter 1Why do I tutor? I see tutoring as an opportunity to help people foster their curiosities about the world. I try to help people gain insight into their writing at multiple levels. We can examine how the sentence level components are working or not working. We also can lend a critical eye to more global issues such as overall effectiveness and mood. It is my estimation that each of us, by gaining insight into our writing, should be able to more fully elaborate on our ideas. That is, thoughtful reflection should lead to a refined product that is both a result of and a conduit for more streamlined, yet complex, language usage. The elaboration of ideas within the linguistic sphere, in turn, should lead to elaboration within the individual’s knowledge set. This expanded knowledge set helps to fulfill the demands of one’s curiosity about the world.
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While reading chapter one I was pleased to come across this passage: “...[W]e truly believe that it's important for you to see the people you work with as writers, just as you are." (pg. 8)I try to bring this philosophy into every tutoring session; that the student (writer) who comes into an appointment with me is always the expert on their paper. I feel like part of my job as a tutor is to reassure the student of this. There are often many situations in life where we can feel powerless, but writing grants individuals agency and gives them the ability to share with the world, or maybe just with their instructor and writing tutor, their unique voice. Writing gives all of us an opportunity to express our ideas, and having the mindset that we have control over how these ideas are communicated is a wonderful thing.
After reading this section I began to contemplate why I tutor and how I go about tutoring. I have found that tutoring fits my personality and values as a helping professional. I am working towards my master's in school counseling, and academic interventions is a part of what I do with my students. I have found that in all settings, whether I meet with someone as a counselor or as a tutor, I prefer to work in a collaborative manner. I think that treating those we work with as equals is an important part of what we do to empower the students we see.
I think that Nick is right: it is important that we view those we work with as equals. However I also think it is important that we view our tutees (or writers/students) equal as well. It is important that we recognize, no matter how much experience the student has or doesn't have, that the student is still a writer and a person with many ideas to share. Collaborating with students as well as our coworkers is a key component to an effective tutoring session, as we will see in Chapter 2 of Longman.