Friday, November 4, 2011


This past week brought a lot of questions to mind. In class we've been talking a lot about directive versus non-directive tutoring, and I've realized something that I tend to do when I feel the need to be more directive: I tend to say "we." By "we," I do not mean the dreaded "we" in terms of relationships and we we we, but in terms of "we're going to want to rearrange this citation a bit to make it correct." Is that bad? Is that creepy? It somehow feels too directive (although being directive) to say "you," but now that I think about it, saying "you" is probably much healthier because THEY are the writer and it is THEIR paper. I am not actually a part of any of it.
Hmm, self-exploratory note taken. Going to start saying "you," even though it initially makes me feel a little bossy. I'll just have to sugar-coat the tone.

I had a session that incited a bit of a personal dilemma for me - I read the student's English 101 exploratory essay, and honestly, it was QUITE strong. However, her professor dismissed the paper because her topic, "hip hop music," did not seem to appeal to him (at least this was the message she relayed back to me after her interpretation of her interaction with her prof). I personally, thought this was pretty absurd, and was swallowing my tongue to make sure I did not let her know that I thought this was ridiculous. We ended up opening up a discussion about how she could maybe morph her paper into something else - focusing on rap in particular and maybe how it is extremely similar to poetry. Admittedly, I threw out that idea, but she jumped on it and had so much to say. I asked again what the paper could be on and she said "anything that interests us," so I do not know why her professor dismissed her hip hop topic, when it was something that interested her. My only solution was to maybe make the paper more focused on academics, and a specific genre of literary art: poetry. I gave her lots of resources to consult to teach herself more about poetry and poetry theory (such as where to find the five steps of a poetry explication). It felt like a good session, but I felt a lot of struggles in this one - thinking about her professor's input, her interpretation of her professor, the validity of a topic that is supposed to interest someone, and balancing being helpfully directive but not too much, and being indirective when it's more beneficial to do so. The get-up and leave for a moment method worked great for this session. Me: "Why don't you write down a few ideas on how you think rap is similar to poetry, based off of what you know, and I'll be right back."
She had some really great points, such as language in rap songs can be both literal and metaphorical.
I suggested she maybe treat one of her favorite rap songs as a poem to explicate from start to finish, to hold onto her original topic just a little bit (rap being different then hip hop as a whole), but to demonstrate that it is indeed worthy to write about. Again, I asked if she was allowed to write about ANYTHING, and she assured me, ANYTHING that was of interest to them was open.
I asked if she asked her professor why specifically he didn't like the topic and she said that he said something like it just wasn't serious enough. (he said she said he said!?!?)
I hope I did okay. SHE seemed extremely confident when she left, and we had a great session mostly just comprised of talking things out and brainstorming. We had a good time, I'd say. I just sincerely hope that her professor approves of her re-done paper, and can see that the subject is valid. I encouraged her to make it back in before her due-date though because our revision plan was so global.

Taught myself a lot of APA this week! Crazy citations they've got going on. Makes MLA feel like home, but I'm getting more and more used to APA with all of these Comm papers.

Had another interesting session this week (that I mentioned in class), where the writer really only needed me to read her syllabus aloud for her to have all of the information she needed! She kept assuring me that as long as she has an outline, she's fine, but that she's been struggling to just sit down and do the outline of what her paper will look like.
I read her syllabus carefully and we made sure that she addressed all of its points in her outline. Before I knew it, she had cranked out a complete outline and felt all ready to wail on her paper. I was briefly puzzled! Like, really?! You're all good now?! But you were all stressed out when you came in and all I did was read the syllabus and you outlined and now you're cool!?!?
That was a good one.

Learned a lot this week. Excited for e-mail consultations soon!




  1. Hi, Stephanie!

    Oh, yes--it can be quite tricky to decipher the "he said, she said" of student/teacher interactions. I, too, hope the teacher accepts her new, refined topic. You're right in that we can many too many assumptions about the teacher based on what the student said (though it's probably safe to say that the teacher didn't approve of the topic for some reason or another--which may have been valid--or not). I think the advice you gave her to keep some facet of her original topic was quite solid. I think this would be a good exercise for her to consider how to take one topic and turn it into another (or a series of other potential topics). Did you happen to get a chance to look at the assignment sheet? There might have been clues there to help you figure out more about the teacher's expectations (but not necessarily, of course!).

    I'm glad to hear you're experimenting with a variety of strategies in your sessions--that's what it's all about. :)

    Have a great weekend!


  2. Hey, Melissa!

    Yeah, I asked if she happened to have the assignment sheet on her person and she said no. I encouraged her of course to bring it whenever she could, on her next appointments. Another student last week actually asked if it was "alright" if he showed me the assignment sheet. I was like yeah, freaking yeah!

    I do not use exclamation points like this in real life. ;)