As the year 2020 reaches its long-awaited end, I think it’s important to take a moment and reflect on all the events that occurred over this past year, whether personal, regional or global.
This year was definitely interesting and chaotic for me, but I was able to learn a lot about myself. As the world changed so rapidly, I had to change along with it. The one thing that I improved this year was reaching out to and communicating with others when I need help. Talking to others during this year was extremely helpful, and I had an opportunity to be the one to lend a helping hand through tutoring in the Writing Center.
However, this also came with some new experiences. When tutoring virtually, I was exposed to different technologies and different ways of tutoring. I never would’ve considered online tutoring had it not been for this year, and it made me realize the strengths and weaknesses in both in-person and online tutoring.
There have been many changes this year, both in and out of the Writing Center. So, I’ve invited tutors to share some of their experiences from this year and some of their expectations or resolutions when going into the new year.
Here are some of their responses:
This past year has been hectic and, for better or worse, forced me to grow in different aspects of my life. Getting to meet so many friendly students and work on a wide range of topics has humbled me greatly. I love what I do, and I hope that more students will love coming to the Writing Center in the future.
It’s been such a crazy, life-changing, tragic year. I have cycled through hope and despair more times than I can count, and I’ve started to come to terms with just how little control I have in the grand scheme of things. I started therapy this year, which has been huge for me!
While I watched the world change around me and worked with my professors on extensions when I struggled to diligently complete my work, the Writing Center’s operations marched on. I was so worried that no one would use the Center after we went online. In fact, the opposite was true; I rarely had a session when I wasn’t fully booked, which was unlike any other semester I’ve tutored! I learned how difficult it was to have that personal, constructive dialogue that tutoring sessions are meant to be over a video call or an asynchronous session. While the experience is just not the same, I tried my best, and I feel that I was able to find a rhythm that each appointment would follow. That period of awkwardness at the beginning of each session shrank, and I felt better able to balance larger concerns with sentence-level criticisms as we read through students’ papers together.
All in all, I learned that the need for the Writing Center remains as pressing as ever and that we can all rise to meet that need, no matter how things look in the broader world.
This year I think that the thing that helped me cope the most with everything that changed this year was maintaining a sense of community both on campus and with friends even when away. I think with everyone being online right now, it is easy to become isolated, and staying connected helps. Even though it is not the same as being physically next to each other, my friends and even my family found time to still be together in digital spaces like Steam, Zoom, and Google Meet.
In terms of the Writing Center, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of synchronous appointments that I had this semester compared to last semester when we first transitioned online. I am hoping that we get more of them because I find that I personally like being able to just talk to someone and engage with them like we were still in the Center.
I feel like I tried a lot of new things this past year, not only with Writing Center appointments, but in general. I think I’ve been getting a bit more comfortable with asynchronous sessions this semester, and before the school closure, I never even had one. One technique that I have been trying more in the Writing Center for my synchronous appointments is asking students to describe something without looking at their paper. I actually think this works very well, especially online, and I would like to continue using it more in the future.
I think my resolution should be to try to be more organized this upcoming semester and year. I think organization is important, not only for my success as a Writing tutor, but also mentally and academically. If I am organized in all these areas, I feel less stressed overall, more confident overall, and more prepared going into tutoring sessions. Even though I definitely would not consider myself the most organized person, I think my organization definitely took a major hit with everything being online, and I want to get it back to normal at least. I also would like to get better at managing my time in asynchronous sessions, and I think organization may be a key factor in doing this successfully.
Contributed by: Athena Williams, Jordan Kirkland, Nic Nemec, and Alexi Misciagna