Reflections from the Writing Fellow Practicum

Fellow Stephen Johnson during a peer-tutoring session in the Fall 2017 term.

Becoming a Writing Fellow requires effort and engagement in the theoretical workings and practical applications of writing tutoring.  While no cakewalk, developing strong leadership skills and making vital contributions to scholarly life at UNE as a professional tutor embed are significant rewards.  Whether you are merely curious, or about to enter into the Writing Fellows Program, please take a look at some reflections on the process of becoming a fellow from three recent WF Practicum grads!

Sinead Scott— English Major, ’20:

  1.  By the end of the semester you will see your tutees improve with their writing and revising skills. This will be one of the most rewarding aspects of the experience.
  2. While you are there to teach, also remember that you are there to guide and not to tell. Your tutees will not only learn more effectively but also will feel more accomplished when they are able to “figure it out” without you telling them the “right way” or “only way.”
  3. There will be awkward moments when working with students. It may be that you don’t know the answer, can’t seem to help them with a question right away, or maybe they come back with a poor grade on an assignment you helped them with. All of these are opportunities to learn from and you have to experience these in order to see positive results by the end, so do not stress about it. It is a process that takes practice for both the tutor and the tutee and the students are not going to become better at writing from one visit or one paper, it takes many.

Courtney Keller—Biological Sciences, ’20:

  1. Be prepared to be pushed out of your comfort zone, but I promise it’s not as scary as you may think.
  2. Appreciate being paired up with another instructor, you may find that you develop a great relationship with them.
  3. Remember that the influence you have on each student is special, and you may find it is very rewarding!

Stephen Johnson—English Major, ’20:

  1. Please remember you’re going to be working with people. A great many discussions will take place about the Writing Fellows Program as a theory and what may or may not happen. But actually working with peers is much different than talking about it. Remember they have their own struggles, their own thoughts, and their own feelings, and they differ from person to person. Be ready to adapt.
  2. You’re not there to be a teacher. If you were, then they wouldn’t need an instructor in the first place. You’re here to help and guide them, and let them teach themselves. I think I heard once that our job is to make our job obsolete (although it never hurts to discuss things with another person), where the student can now think and do these sorts of things on their own.
  3. Look at the global ideas before the lower level stuff. Looking for what a student’s ideas are, what their structure looks like, and how they’re organizing information, is more important than getting caught up grammatical/sentence level errors. Make sure to help a student with what’s most important first before moving on down to the minor things.