I was a tutor in Fullerton College’s Writing Center this year. I’ve learned so much as a result. I owe it to my Critical Reasoning and Writing professor, Dr. Claudia Stanger, for having recommended me to become a tutor. Having conducted my last tutoring session last week, I wanted to share my reflection on my overall experience.
Subject matter and content differs between every individual, and I’ve had to adjust accordingly. I’ve tended to students with disabilities and people whose first language isn’t English. I’ve handled impatient or obnoxious students. I’ve dealt with almost unbearably shy students or overwhelmingly talkative students. Learning styles also differ among students, so I had to constantly appeal to either visual, audio, tactile-kinesthetic, or a combination of the three tactics. By dealing with such a wide variety of students, I’ve definitely become more flexible in meeting their demands.
Tutoring could be a teacher-teacher mentality:
I’ve learned a lot about my students and their stories. I’m required to keep all information confidential, but many students include personal experiences in their writing. As we discuss it, they further elaborate on their origins and reveal a bit of who they are. As I’m listening, I’m further enhancing my own perception of people in this world. Also to a lesser extent, I become exposed to varying writing styles and add them to my own writing arsenal.
Tremendous rewards for excellent sessions:
In the Writing Center, students could set up appointments requesting a specific tutor. Throughout the semester, several students constantly requested me to be their tutor. As a result, I was consistently booked up with with the same tutees on a weekly basis. Hearing good results on their paper or midterms and attributing it to me was rewarding. Above that, I formed more interpersonal relationships and engaged in small talk with many of them.
Work environment contributes to mood:
This might be obvious, but being in a good work atmosphere makes the difference between misery and happiness. Air conditioning and good lighting is great; awesome coworkers are even better. I’ve developed friendships with other tutors that I will remain in contact with.
Comfort plays a significant role:
This isn’t exclusive to just tutoring. I firmly believe that comfort level really dictates the course of communication. Therefore, I try to make every tutoring session a laid back, yet productive one. Instead of treating the student as incompetent or inferior, I treat them like a [nice] coach would to a [talented] athlete. At the end of every session, I ask them if the session was helpful to them. Although some (hopefully none) may have lied, every response was an authentic-sounding “yes.”
The giver is the true receiver:
If my help was going to waste, why dispense the information? If I wasn’t passionate about teaching others, why spend the time and effort? It’s not because of the money; I provide my advice and knowledge of English because I enjoy doing so. Seeing the students come back with improved papers or less errors and knowing that I had an influence: priceless.
And most importantly, I found that I enjoy teaching.
I plan on applying for work-study in a tutoring program at UC Berkeley as well. If not, I’ll continue helping others in whatever subjects they need help on, provided of course I have adequate knowledge in the field!