What I Learned From Being A Tutor

What I Learned From Being A Tutor

Whether it's improving your communication or leadership skills, there are many benefits that can be gained from tutoring.
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Now that my senior year has officially begun, I cannot help but reflect on all of the wonderful experiences with which SUNY Oswego has provided me. Perhaps the most amazing opportunity I have had in college thus far is working as a tutor in the Writing Center of Penfield Library. I first began tutoring as a sophomore during the fall of 2013, and I honestly could not be more pleased with my experience. Though I look forward to graduating more and more each day, I still feel a pang of sadness when I realize that the job I have fallen in love with will soon come to an end.

Since working as a writing tutor, I have acquired new knowledge and developed a variety of skills that will no doubt benefit me in the future. Both my listening and communication skills have improved substantially over the past few years due to my engagement with tutees. Since many students who come in for tutoring may feel nervous about visiting the Writing Center, it is important to make them feel comfortable and welcome. In order to do this, a tutor must frequently ask for his or her tutee's thoughts and opinions, which encourages effective communication between both parties. Thanks to my job, I am now capable of expressing myself to others in a much more clear and concise manner. I have also learned how to interact positively and effectively with students in order to best serve their interests. This is an especially important tool for me to have, since I work with students on an individual basis. Interaction between the tutor and the tutee is absolutely crucial for a successful session.

One of the many methods I have developed as a tutor, is viewing each student that visits the Writing Center not as "just another tutee," but as a unique individual with his or her own strengths and weaknesses. As soon as a new student comes in for tutoring, I introduce myself and then ask his or her name. Oftentimes, I will ask a tutee what his or her major is, where he or she is from and what year he or she is in. As the tutoring session progresses, I typically pose more detailed and open-ended questions. These may include: Why are you taking this course and how do you like it so far? To what extent are you interested in the course material? Are you understanding what is being taught in class? How do you feel about your writing skills, in general? What would you like to see improved? I try my best to get to know each student on a personal level, since I have found that my tutees tend to be more comfortable and communicative with me if they feel like we are on close terms with each other. Interacting with my tutees on a one-on-one basis establishes a stronger bond, as well as a higher level of trust and respect, which allows me to work with them more effectively.

Another important lesson I have learned through my experience as a tutor is that there are many different types of learners. Therefore, one of the many personal goals I set for myself at the beginning of my sophomore year was to discover what kind of learner each tutee is (i.e., visual, auditory, tactile kinesthetic, etc.) so that I can tailor my teaching style and strategies to accommodate the needs of each individual. For example, for learners that tend to be more visual, the most useful strategies may include highlighting, notecard-making, and using pictures/videos to help commit important information to memory. For students that are auditory learners, using acronyms, mnemonic devices, rhymes, and songs generally work best. Over the years, I have used various techniques in order to help my students better learn and understand the required material. Being adaptable to different learning styles and approaches has ultimately contributed to my success as a writing tutor.

Offering positive reinforcement during tutoring is another vital lesson I have learned from my job. Whenever I engage in a session, I try to be very careful about my choice of words to not discourage or offend my tutee in any way, especially since he or she may feel ashamed about coming to the Writing Center. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma attached to tutoring. Many students seem to be under the impression that if they ask for help, they will automatically be labeled as “dumb” or “inferior.” This is a common misconception; in fact, most of my tutees are exceptional students who are incredibly dedicated, conscientious, and eager to learn.

As a tutor, it is important for me to remember that there is a fine line between constructive criticism and destructive criticism. I am aware that I should not simply critique papers, since this might make students feel incompetent or inadequate. Rather, I should make a conscious effort to find positive things to say about students’ papers even if it is something as simple as word choice. One essential lesson I have learned is that there is always room for praise and encouragement. No matter how poorly-written or constructed an essay may be, a tutor can still find something nice to say about it. Not only does this reassure the student that he or she is headed in the right direction, but it also boosts his or her self-esteem. By working to promote positive reinforcement and inspire confidence within my tutees, I am able to have more effective tutoring sessions with students.

Overall, I feel incredibly fortunate to have been hired as a writing tutor at SUNY Oswego. My job has provided me with a tremendous sense of self-satisfaction. The main reason why I enjoy being a tutor is because I absolutely love having the ability to provide helpful feedback on peers’ papers and to assist them with focusing, developing, and organizing their writing. Over the past few years, working as a tutor in the Writing Center, I have received such compliments as, “I received a good grade on my paper because of you!” and “I feel so much better about this assignment, thanks to your help!” Phrases like this not only make my day, but they also make my job worthwhile.

As an English major who understands and appreciates the power of the written word, I take great pride and pleasure in working with fellow students to help them enhance their writing skills. Having the opportunity to witness my tutees’ gradual development into critical thinkers and successful learners is extremely rewarding. My position as a writing tutor has not only taught me important lessons in leadership and communication, but it has also prepared me for a successful writing career in the future. I am confident that through my job at SUNY Oswego, I have gained invaluable skills and training experience that will no doubt allow me to utilize my writing skills to the fullest potential and encourage others to do the same.

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything
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I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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Five Tips to Get on Top of Your 2019: Tech Editions

Yeah, there's an app for that.

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Technology is the course of the future, why not use it to get on top of your new year? Make 2019 the year you stop sleeping on these great productivity apps and get grinding! Best part, all the apps I've included here are free.

Google Calendar.

Look at that beauty.

I LOVE Google Calendar! Not only is it a great tool to map out your week, it comes with cool features. You can color code tasks and events, get text reminders and so much more. You can even sync your calendar with other people's (this is very helpful for roommates or study buddies).

Google Doc File Folders

Crying.

Sick of that long list of documents in your Google Docs? You can make file folders to organize all of your docs!

Momentum Chrome Extension

This is by far my favorite productivity app. It's a Chrome extension that acts as a home page whenever you open a new window or tab. It comes complete with the weather, a motivational quote and a to-do list! The best feature is their "main focus for the day". It keeps you grounded for sure- especially when it pops up with every tab and forces you to think about all you need to accomplish.

Wunderlist

This is a to-do list on steroids- definitely worth checking out!

Todist

A to-do list app for your phone! I love this just to organize what my top priorities are.

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