Texas Tutor Talks Notes

(From Alanna Bitzel)

Thank you to everyone who had consultants/tutors attend the 2.14 Texas Tutor Talk hosted on Zoom.

We hosted attendees from:

  • Austin College
  • Our Lady of the Lake University – San Antonio
  • The University of Houston
  • The University of Mary Hardin-Baylor
  • The University of Texas at Austin
  • The University of Texas at Austin – Texas Athletics Student Services, and
  • The University of Texas at San Antonio

Here are some notes from the session provided by two tutors from Our Lady of the Lake who attended the session:

  • The focus of the conversation in the session was how tutors can use their time as tutors to also develop their professional skills.
  • This topic is applicable not only to college students, but faculty and staff, as well as those outside of academia.
  • Employers always look for opportunities to create training content for their employees to ensure employees are well-versed in the field in which they are engaged, so reflecting on skill-building is important.
  • Tutoring provides lessons in customer service, including how to work with/handle people, especially difficult people or scenarios.
  • Tutoring can help tutors develop or refine customer service skills, as tutors must address student needs (or risk a student being upset if those needs are not met).
  • Listening to student needs is an important skill. Listening to/addressing the needs of others are skills transferable beyond the writing center.
  • The skill of listening also includes cultivating a safe environment or space to allow students/others to voice opinions and express themselves, which, again, is applicable beyond the writing center.

And here is a transcript of the chat notes. (Parts that had to do with technical issues have been removed.)

2.14 Texas Tutor Talk Chat Transcript

TOPIC: Professionalization in the Writing Center

15:15:39          From Alanna Bitzel : From here – I want to kick it over to the student attendees for their conversation about how the writing center has prepared you for a future career/job

15:15:44          From Alanna Bitzel : What transferable skills do you have?

15:15:52          From Alanna Bitzel : what have you learned at the writing center that you can apply later?

15:17:08          From Jason@OLLU : If I may, I think learning how to deal with difficult people and situations.

15:17:27          From Lisha : Can we introduce ourselves first?

15:17:56          From Alanna Bitzel : This session is your opportunity as tutors to share thoughts and ideas with each other, brainstorm strategies as you look to next steps. I hope your conversation is productive!

15:17:58          From Jason@OLLU : I have previous experience in customer service in retail and banking, so that prepared me as well, but this has also had its share of issues.

15:18:22          From Sabrina @ OLLU  : Sabrina Zertuche, Senior Writing Consultant at the MFD Writing Center, Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX.

15:18:23          From Jason@OLLU : Sorry, I’m Jason from the MFD Writing Center at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio 🙂

15:18:38          From N : Nathaniel Stagg, tutor at the UTSA Writing Center!

15:18:51          From Maurice Wilson : From UH: Alyssa, writing consultant, first year

15:18:57          From Chris Fite : Chris Fite, writing tutor at UT-Austin Athletics

15:19:17          From UMHB : As a future psychologist and clinician. tutoring has taught me a lot about power balance in one-on-one professional-client relationships. Learning when to speak as well as when to listen and meeting the specific needs of individual clients has definitely been a learning experience for me.

15:19:28          From Maurice Wilson : Also from UH, Elizabeth: first year writing consultant, background in teaching

15:19:37          From Lisha : Hi! 🙂 I’m Sam Marsh, tutor at Austin College WC

15:20:18          From reidr : Hi! We’re Reid and Abby from the University of Texas at Austin.

15:20:33          From Alyson Judd : Hello! My name is Alyson and I’m a fourth-year at the University of Texas at Austin

15:23:20          From UMHB : Hello! I’m Fran Duncan from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton, TX.  I’m a senior Clinical Psychology major and Writing Tutor. 🙂

15:23:41          From Sabrina @ OLLU  : I think UMHB hit on one vital skill that is learned and further developed in this career: listening! We train our subject tutors to use listening and specific response as methods for developing the rapport and relationship between student and tutor. As Writing Consultants, we all have advanced degrees or have taught for many years, but our skills adapt and evolve as we work with different generations of students.

15:25:30          From Maurice Wilson : at Sabrina, I’m confused by that statement. I don’t think any of our tutors at UH have advanced degrees. Only a few have teaching experience.

15:26:07          From N : I certainly can’t speak for the anyone else, but for me particularly, working at the writing center certainly improves my own writing skills! Our job constantly involves critical evaluation, constructive criticism, and close reading; this translates quite well to personal writing!

15:26:42          From UMHB : I think it is important that when listening, we give the client power. As tutors, it can be easy to assume that we know more than the other student, even though some of us are also students, but no on knows more about the client’s writing than that client. I think it is important in that instant to empower them and remind them of that, especially when we get caught up in teaching the general writing skills.

15:26:56          From Sabrina @ OLLU  : Here at OLLU, our writing center is staffed by trained professionals. We all have master’s or teaching degrees, or years of teaching experience. Hopefully that helps clear some of the confusion in my statement.

15:29:00          From Jason@OLLU : UMHB, you bring up a good point in the idea of working with student’s own experiences and not relying on our own too much. We talked about making sure we don’t tip the power balance too far in our favor by assuming too much and not listening. We have all worked really hard in our center to do our best to acknowledge our privileges and that we can dominate unintentionally. We are here to serve the students’ voices and empower as best possible.

15:34:01          From Maurice Wilson : I also believe it important to listen and help the student feel comfortable with their writing, as well as the writing process. However, I don’t believe that our experiences as educators is not important in every conversation with each student that we may meet with. As as a tutor, it is important to learn and shape your own teaching style and then best find a way to fit it to the student at hand, which balances a first vs. non direct approach.




15:35:48          From Maurice Wilson : Touching on that same idea, it’s really easy to empower a student too much. Not every student really is totally in control of their own writing. Sometimes I think  they come looking for someone to guide them and that’s really what they need.