By Benjamin Sanders
Will you be spending some time tutoring this semester as part of your service-learning class? Check out former S-L student-turned Street Team member Ben Sanders’ PROTIPS for tutoring. As an added bonus for S-L students serving with 826 Boston this semester, register now for their tutor training taking place tomorrow from 6:30-7:30pm!
PROTIP #1: There’s No Need to be Nervous
I know it sounds a bit strange, especially since it is exactly what I was before I started tutoring, but it is the truth. You have no idea how much the students receiving your help look up to you and it’s often easy to underestimate what you can help them with. You have a completely different literary experience from the students you are tutoring and all of the things that you have been taught, which seem simple and useless to you, are a bounty of information to someone else. You never know, that strategy you use habitually when writing that you consider second nature may just be a gold mine for a student.
PROTIP #2: Listen
You aren’t writing the paper, the student is. Keep your ears open and listen what they want to say in their paper or piece of writing since that is the closest you can get to the ideas they have in their head. Your job isn’t to write their paper, but to help them figure out the best way to express their thoughts and ideas on the topic into a piece of writing. It’s okay to throw in a couple of your ideas every so often with a student who may be really stuck or just needs one more thing, just make sure that when you read the paper, it isn’t mostly your ideas. Even if they are out of ideas, help them brainstorm and listen to what they have to say. Build off of their ideas before bringing in your own. A really great part about listening to what they have to say is you get to hear the ideas and thought processes of someone else with different experiences which may help you when you take another look at your own papers.
PROTIP #3: Ask Questions
The best way to find out where someone is having issues is to ask them questions. When you read a paper, you might immediately see the problem because of the way you were taught to proofread by teachers, parents, etc…, but that error or issue may be missed by a student. The best way to help them fix that error is to ask them questions tho figure out what they do or do not know about the reasoning behind the error. That way, when you suggest an edit or go an fix it, you can make sure they understand why the issue exists so if it comes up again,they can fix it.
Before joining the Street Team, Ben was a student in Belinda Walzer’s Fall 2015 First-Year Writing Course. His Service-Learning placement was at the John D. O’Bryant School of Math & Science Writer’s Room, a space staffed and run by 826 Boston.