Transcripts of Deb

[00:00:01.80] So I'm Deb Kuzawa.
[00:00:02.45] I'm a PhD candidate at Ohio State in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy,
[00:00:06.66] and I'm just gonna talk a little bit about my experiences with tutoring.
[00:00:10.13] So I was thinking about this,
[00:00:11.63] and the first time I ever actually was a tutor was in sixth grade,
[00:00:14.84] and there was a small group of us
[00:00:17.47] who were chosen by our teacher, Mrs. Fiala,
[00:00:21.28] who was an amazing teacher,
[00:00:23.68] actually was just talking, reminiscing with some people that were in that class,
[00:00:27.35] I was in that class with and, um, in sixth grade.
[00:00:30.32] And so she was an amazing teacher,
[00:00:32.06] and so she approached me and a couple other students
[00:00:33.83] who were strong students
[00:00:35.74] and asked if we would be willing to tutor, um, a student who was a year below us.
[00:00:41.01] Um, so we said sure.
[00:00:42.99] There was I think three or four of us.
[00:00:45.18] I don't remember exactly what we tutored him in.
[00:00:47.36] I think maybe, you know some, some English, and some, um,
[00:00:52.65] social studies, I remember, something like that.
[00:00:55.52] Um, I don't necessarily remember a whole lot about the process.
[00:00:59.26] I remember we went to lunch,
[00:01:00.69] like that was our treat for, for helping out this kid is she took us out to lunch.
[00:01:04.92] I think you know probably at the Burger King that was across from the middle school
[00:01:07.68] and I remember, I remember Mrs. Fiala saying something along the lines of
[00:01:12.74] that she thought I was gonna be a teacher.
[00:01:14.63] And I immediately was like, "No. I am not gonna be a teacher. There's no way."
[00:01:18.77] And my biggest reason why was 'cause I was afraid that my students wouldn't like me.
[00:01:24.48] That was my biggest fear, you know.
[00:01:27.11] And so middle school was really rough for me,
[00:01:28.77] so that was a big concern is people liking me.
[00:01:30.88] And so ... I was like, "Oh no, no."
[00:01:33.91] And I just thought about teachers who students didn't like
[00:01:36.38] and the types of things they said about them,
[00:01:38.12] and so I was just like, "No, there's no way, I would never want to do that."
[00:01:40.67] So when I entered undergrad, I initially ...
[00:01:45.40] for the first week I was an education major, and I changed it to English
[00:01:48.04] because I said, "Ehh I don't know if I actually want to teach kids."
[00:01:52.43] Um, so I was an English major, and that was fine.
[00:01:57.67] Fast forward, the next time I tutored was not until
[00:02:01.72] uh, finished, um, masters in English
[00:02:06.09] and a masters in Women's Studies here at Ohio State, and then I took time off,
[00:02:10.36] and during that time off I worked at a place called Columbus Works, Inc.,
[00:02:13.53] which is a job readiness and GED program,
[00:02:17.00] and it's a for-free, six-week program, at least at the time it was.
[00:02:21.35] It was no cost, six weeks, Monday through Friday, 8:00 to 5:00.
[00:02:26.44] Um, and, so working there, I started ...
[00:02:31.55] That was really the first time I was teaching adults adults.
[00:02:34.78] You know, not adult college students, but adults.
[00:02:37.56] Some of them were 17, you know, but some of them were 50.
[00:02:40.32] Uh, and I started having to tutor in addition to teaching
[00:02:46.19] the Language Arts classes and helping them work toward the GED.
[00:02:50.60] So I started tutoring math,
[00:02:52.45] which was always my, um, weakest subject,
[00:02:56.00] always my weakest subject, um, by far.
[00:02:59.64] Um, but I finally learned how to multiply and divide fractions easily.
[00:03:05.15] Like some, something suddenly clicked
[00:03:08.25] when I was trying to teach myself in order to be able to tutor.
[00:03:11.29] Um, and then I started working at Columbus State Community College
[00:03:14.45] and I started tutoring there, started working at the writing center, and I loved it.
[00:03:18.29] So I worked as an adjunct.
[00:03:19.55] I was teaching, um, the English 101, 102
[00:03:23.53] and the 252, which is "Images of Men and Women"
[00:03:26.06] but the second-level intermediate composition,
[00:03:28.37] and then I was also tutoring at the writing center,
[00:03:30.73] and uh, the working one on one with students,
[00:03:34.63] I just adored it, it was so amazing.
[00:03:36.74] And really, those experiences are what made me decide
[00:03:39.24] that I wanted to focus on Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy as a PhD student,
[00:03:43.75] was working there, um, working at the writing center
[00:03:46.34] and being able to especially working with students,
[00:03:48.78] repeat clients, and being able to see their writing evolve and develop.
[00:03:56.12] That for me was super rewarding.
[00:03:59.29] And so I came back to Ohio State and worked on the PhD
[00:04:04.36] and wasn't doing any tutoring until this year again.
[00:04:08.28] I started working at the writing center as a writing tutor,
[00:04:12.87] and my main job is working for university libraries as a research tutor.
[00:04:17.45] And I also work with Teaching & Learning at the library to help develop tutoring,
[00:04:22.85] online tutoring, um programs and,
[00:04:25.82] um, not programs but ...
[00:04:30.57] learning units, I guess,
[00:04:33.42] to, to learn how to do different types of research.
[00:04:36.99] And it's also the first time I've ever tutored online.
[00:04:41.33] So I tutor online for a couple hours for the writing center,
[00:04:45.34] and I taught online when I was at Columbus State, which was strange.
[00:04:49.12] I didn't get any training.
[00:04:50.04] It was like, "Oh, here. Here's the online um ...
[00:04:55.56] "Here's the online times, you know, here are the sessions that we need. Go to it."
[00:05:01.42] You know, there was no really discussion about how do you do that.
[00:05:04.33] And since ...
[00:05:06.59] this year, tutoring at the writing center and tutoring online
[00:05:10.71] has really impacted my view of how if I were to teach a course online again,
[00:05:16.04] how I would set it up um, in terms of,
[00:05:19.17] for example having a, a synchronous portion of it.
[00:05:25.15] Not having it all be asychronous, but having, you know,
[00:05:28.28] certain hours where I have like virtual office hours
[00:05:33.58] where I'm on chat so students can talk to me that way,
[00:05:36.68] to require each student to have a chat with me at least once during the term.
[00:05:42.69] Things like that that really made me in some ways rethink,
[00:05:48.11] how do you effectively tutor or teach writing online.
[00:05:53.15] Because really in a lot of ways, teaching a course online is like tutoring.
[00:05:57.15] Um, because it's it's not ...
[00:05:59.81] even the large class discussions are still on a discussion board,
[00:06:04.02] they're not really talking to each other,
[00:06:06.36] it's very much still a, a one-on-one type of setting
[00:06:10.15] um, in some ways.
[00:06:12.02] So I think that's really impacted that, and then working at the library,
[00:06:16.57] tutoring research, has been super, super rewarding.
[00:06:20.41] Far more so than I thought it would be.
[00:06:22.58] Initially I thought,
[00:06:25.18] Ok, well yeah, I can do research. I've been in college for ...
[00:06:29.32] oh jeez, 12 years now,
[00:06:34.02] you know, if you combine my undergrad,
[00:06:35.76] my masters degree, my masters work, and now my PhD work, so 12 years?
[00:06:39.76] Yeah, I can do some research, I know my way around the library website,
[00:06:43.87] I know how to look for sources outside the library.
[00:06:47.41] Um, but ...
[00:06:50.47] in tutoring, I've become a better researcher on my own
[00:06:55.28] and thinking about ways to approach a research task
[00:07:00.18] has really changed from teaching others how to do that
[00:07:02.77] and I've also learned a lot in helping students to navigate databases
[00:07:07.34] and using their interests in their subject areas
[00:07:10.75] and their research topics to search ...
[00:07:13.73] I've, um, found resources that have been actually helpful for my own research.
[00:07:18.87] And really as a tutor, I feel like I rely a lot
[00:07:23.55] on my own personal experiences as a writer, as a reader, as a researcher
[00:07:28.27] and that makes a big difference.
[00:07:30.20] I think a lot of times tutors think
[00:07:33.65] they need to have this persona up:
[00:07:36.42] "Well, I am some sort of expert,"
[00:07:38.89] even though writing center scholarship clearly says, you know,
[00:07:41.98] this is a collaboration, this is a,
[00:07:43.74] not a, you have all the answers and you're going to then,
[00:07:48.26] you know, sort of spit these answers out to the. um, to the client.
[00:07:53.13] Um, so writing center work certainly doesn't say the tutor has all the answers,
[00:07:57.93] but really I think that there's a sense overall
[00:08:00.81] 'cause that's also how grad school is, right?
[00:08:02.85] You never want to be the one who says, "I don't know."
[00:08:04.40] Um, that's always that fear.
[00:08:06.37] And with tutoring you have to say sometimes, "Well, I don't know."
[00:08:10.58] And you have to be willing to change your mind,
[00:08:12.52] to ... switch gears if something isn't working
[00:08:16.91] if you're trying to explain something and it's not ... getting through.
[00:08:22.43] You have to think about how can you talk about it in a different way
[00:08:24.87] and sometimes when, um, particularly when people are talking about anxiety,
[00:08:28.54] 'cause so much of what we deal with as tutors,
[00:08:31.01] whether we're talking about writing or research, math, chemistry, is anxiety.
[00:08:35.48] Usually students are coming to see you because they're anxious about their work.
[00:08:39.24] And that stress and anxiety can feel overwhelming.
[00:08:42.80] And so to have a tutor say, "You know what,
[00:08:45.00] "I actually deal with this same issue in my own writing all the time,"
[00:08:48.32] or, "I struggle with these things in my own research,"
[00:08:51.05] or things of that nature can make a big difference.
[00:08:54.49] Um, particularly with beginning writers,
[00:08:56.67] and I say "beginning" in the sense of beginning academic writers,
[00:09:00.10] people whose native language is not English, they can get very anxious.
[00:09:05.87] Like, "Oh, I make all these stupid mistakes."
[00:09:08.01] It's like, "Well, no, I make that same mistake all the time.
[00:09:11.28] "And English is the only language I'm fluent in."
[00:09:14.37] You know? So ...
[00:09:16.01] "And I'm getting a, I have a degree, I have two degrees in English,
[00:09:18.50] "and I'm getting another degree in English,
[00:09:20.45] "and I still struggle with this same issues, so ...
[00:09:22.35] "Please realize that this has nothing to do with your status as a language learner.
[00:09:25.90] "It has nothing to do with your experience as a learner.
[00:09:28.83] "What it does have to do with is just, language is hard
[00:09:32.43] "and English is hard language to learn and to write in.
[00:09:35.28] "And ... that doesn't mean that the issue is never gonna go away,
[00:09:39.23] "but you become better at recognizing when you're making that mistake.
[00:09:44.55] "You become better realizing how can you fix those mistakes."
[00:09:47.15] And so I think being a tutor has made me a better writer in a lot of ways,
[00:09:51.75] because sometimes when you're, when you've always been a strong writer,
[00:09:55.55] you don't know why certain things are the way they are, right?
[00:09:59.13] You don't understand why that's how you write that,
[00:10:01.02] that's how you say that, you don't say it this way.
[00:10:03.44] And sometimes there is no good reason.
[00:10:05.67] Like, um,
[00:10:06.82] with prepositions for example, in English.
[00:10:09.96] A lot of the prepositions it's like
[00:10:11.44] there's no really good this is exactly why you use this preposition and not another one.
[00:10:15.97] Um, but there are some things where there are actual rules behind it,
[00:10:19.72] and so tutoring has forced me to learn some of those rules,
[00:10:22.38] to actually know why is it that I do it this way?
[00:10:25.43] Why does it make more sense to use
[00:10:27.72] the active voice here and the passive voice here?
[00:10:30.51] And that there is a stylistic thing that becomes from experiences
[00:10:34.38] and so that's something else to be able to talk about,
[00:10:36.06] because a lot of times students think that grammar and mechanics
[00:10:39.33] and um ...
[00:10:41.57] and style issues are all one and the same.
[00:10:45.28] And so I can talk about my own personal experiences with style.
[00:10:48.62] So sometimes I've come with issues with my writing style as being
[00:10:52.51] not academic enough or um,
[00:10:56.51] being too academic, or things of that nature.
[00:11:00.14] So able to talk about how do you move between these different communities.
[00:11:04.62] Um, and so I think that with tutoring,
[00:11:08.37] that's one of the things you really need to keep in mind always is
[00:11:10.83] how can you talk about, how can you think about your own experiences
[00:11:15.46] and what helped you or what didn't help you
[00:11:17.34] and how might that help the the client that you're working with.
[00:11:21.45] Now sometimes, the client is ... wants nothing of it.
[00:11:25.25] They don't want anything, they just want you to, you know
[00:11:27.92] do a grammar check, which is of course, we don't do at writing centers,
[00:11:30.94] but so it's also about reading the client,
[00:11:35.35] which comes with experience I guess.
[00:11:38.14] But, um, for me, tutoring is
[00:11:40.12] ... probably ...
[00:11:41.63] I love teaching. I really love teaching.
[00:11:43.83] Um, but I think I might like tutoring more.
[00:11:47.52] And the main reason is that one-on-one relationship.
[00:11:51.97] To be able to sit down and, and have a conversation
[00:11:56.26] and to, um, see that evolution and that development,
[00:12:00.31] which of course doesn't always happen.
[00:12:02.78] Not all tutoring session are successful, but
[00:12:05.12] I've had some really good ones recently where it started out with,
[00:12:09.28] "I'm really anxious about these things for this application letter,"
[00:12:12.32] and to be able to talk about,
[00:12:13.86] "Well, some of these, these points seem out of place here,"
[00:12:18.64] or things like that.
[00:12:19.46] And then it ended up being a larger discussion about,
[00:12:21.39] What are the academic expectations in different fields?
[00:12:23.90] What are the expectations for this type of document
[00:12:27.17] versus another type of document?
[00:12:29.05] Um, and we were able to have this sort of
[00:12:32.28] a little bit more abstract conversation, still grounded in her own work
[00:12:36.64] and her own um, writing, but a more abstract about,
[00:12:40.96] well, why might you use a certain type of language here
[00:12:45.59] but you wouldn't use it here.
[00:12:47.08] And so sometimes that can be really rewarding to ...
[00:12:50.53] sort of do what we do in, in ...
[00:12:53.47] as grad students and as scholars in Rhetoric, Composition, and Literacy,
[00:12:57.26] which is sort have these meta conversations about writing,
[00:12:59.85] those don't often happen, um, outside of that little RCL-type bubble.
[00:13:05.41] And it doesn't always happen in tutoring sessions.
[00:13:08.54] But when it does, it's so rewarding I think
[00:13:13.39] because in my experiences at least,
[00:13:16.06] there's often this moment, um, where,
[00:13:20.40] "Oh wait, writing and literacy, it's more than just these words on a page."
[00:13:24.57] There's a lot more involved here, you know, and to think about the nuances of rhetoric
[00:13:28.16] and how that impacts the way that we write,
[00:13:30.17] and what we write, and all of those things.
[00:13:32.73] And so to me, that's what's also very rewarding is to be able to have those,
[00:13:36.94] those meta conversations that you can try to do in a large class,
[00:13:41.48] and when I say large, you know, 25 students,
[00:13:43.85] which is kind of a small class for a lot of people.
[00:13:47.43] But ... um ...
[00:13:49.96] the intimacy that's there,
[00:13:52.63] and the one on one is I think what's really, for me, I think beneficial.
[00:13:57.23] And to me also emphasizes why writing classes need to be small
[00:14:00.93] in order to be really successful for everyone involved to get a lot out of it
[00:14:05.97] that, that smaller class size really makes a difference,
[00:14:09.63] and tutoring for me illustrates that perfectly.
[00:14:12.44] So ... um ... that's it.