Sunday, November 1, 2015

AR2: "Why Writers Need Tutors"


For some students and teachers, there is a belief that some writers don't need tutors/consultants. There is a clear need for guidance in those that struggle or require remediation, but don't all writers need tutors that help them talk through ideas and provide a filter and real life audience before a piece of writing is complete. In this article, Mickey Harris discusses why writers need tutors, and what this means for the writing center. Reflect on your impressions of this article and what you can take away from it. Be detailed.

Remember to include the following in your COMPLETE PARAGRAPH response:

  • Your impressions of the article (likes/dislikes/agree/disagree)
  • How does it connect to writing centers at large?
  • How can it be applied to the MHS Writing Center?

15 comments:

  1. This article can apply to our writing center by asking sure that everyone who comes to the writing center leaves with what they needed. The main idea was that students are coming into the writing center for extra help and direct ways to enhance their knowledge, not a rap eat of what the teacher said. Basically, each consultant needs to find different ways to get their clients to wrap their mind around a specific topic. This is shown when the author writes, "writing centers do not and should not repeat the same experience and are not there to compensate for poor teaching, over crowded classrooms or lack of time for overburdened instructors to confer adequately with their students. Instead, writing centers need to provide another, very crucial aspect of what writers need- tutorial interaction" (Harris 1). For me, I will personally use this information to ensure that my client is receiving every piece of information that is possible. Furthermore, I need to make sure that I a not repeating exactly what their teacher said. The author writes, "when meeting with tutors, writers use gain kinds of knowledge about their writing that are not possible in other institutional setings..." (Harris 1). Personally I enjoyed the context of this article, and am going to use many of the methods he explained, but I did think that he got a little repetitive towards the end of the article.

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  2. Muriel harris’ essay about writing centers reveals the purpose of the writing center in a new way; shedding light on the value of the relationship between tutor and client. Harris stresses that writing centers create a new experience that is vital to writing because they work between a classroom and a casual setting. The tutor balances the role between teacher and friend—he is relatable, approachable, yet knowledgeable and helpful. A tutor does not instruct, but rather makes their clients think through their problems on their own. The relationship between an author and a tutor is valuable because the tutor does not intimidate them in the way that a teacher does. A tutor is someone who writers can trust, someone they can confidently ask questions to without feeling as if they could be penalized or perceived as ignorant. On the other hand, a tutor isn't just another “friend” reading over the author's paper for him. A tutor knows what they're doing, and clients can trust him to improve his writing and point out mistakes he missed on his own. Harris understands that this collaboration is what makes the writing center so helpful. It gets the client engaged in his own writing by being open to good conversation and also asking questions that challenge and probe the author’s piece. Overall, Harris’ piece communicates that tutors can work with clients in ways that are crucial to the literary world, and that tutors are a critical tool to the writing process. I liked how Harris described the importance of the tutor by talking about his balance between teacher and peer. I think that the MHS writing center can use this way of thinking in consultations to remember to be approachable and professional at the same time.

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  3. This article by Harris complies that everyone that come to the writing center gets all of their questions asked, and leave with a better understanding of writing in general. Some of the points that Harris states I agree with, such as, "it serves as a resource room for writing- related materials; it offers opportunities for faculty development through workshops and consultations; and it develops tutors own writing, interpersonal skills, and teaching abilities" (Harris 1). I agree with this because as a consultant I feel like I provide these opportunities. One of the things that I disagree with him saying states, "Writing centers do not and should not repeat a classroom experience..." (Harris 1). I do not think this is true because in some aspects the consultants are reteaching what the student did not understand or remember. This can connect to the writing center by making sure that all questions and concerns are accommodated too. All in all, this was a very good article hitting major points, but I do agree with Rylee, the end did get a bit repetitive.

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  4. Personally, I really enjoyed the information presented in this article. I feel it was extremely relevant and the methods provided can be utilized in Mattawan's Writing Center. One of the topics dressed in the article talked about the differences between teachers and students, and how tutors can be the "middle ground" between the two. As consultants, we possess the ability to interpret teacher language into student language. We assist students in understanding prompts and guidelines that are provided by a professor. We can interpret a teacher's intent to help a student fully understand criticism. The article also explained how a writing center is different from a classroom interaction. “Situated as they are to work one-on-one with each writer and his or her needs, tutors can attend to individual differences” (Harris 40). During a consultation, face-to-face interaction takes place. This allows a tutor to pick up clues from observing and listening to a student. As a result, a tutor can more easily clarify questions and provide beneficial information. Also, a student often feels more comfortable with a consultant rather than a teacher, which can lead to a flexible, relaxed conversation. A tutor in the writing center can help reduce stress of a student and assist them in overcoming academic hurdles. Overall, the information provided in the article proved to be educating, and I now have more tactics in achieving more successful consultations.

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  5. "Why Writers Need Writing Tutors" by Muriel Harris illustrates the importance of the Writing Center mentorship. Harris continually expresses his reliance on student instructors, and fully appreciates the impact reflected by the student body. Concerning the significance of consultants, I agree with Harris's statement that, "as tutors we are there to help reduce the stress, to overcome the hurdles set up by others, and to know more about writing than a roommate or friend" (29). While being just students ourselves, we must challenge one another to maintain a higher level of literary knowledge than our peers, and advise clients in a mature, considerate method. Likewise, Harris refers to the common writing center as a "haven for students where individual needs are met" (27). Harris's expectation of forming a one-on-one connection with students concurs ideally with my own, as a reciprocated respect between client and consultant aids enormously in the editing process. Essentially, Harris's article provides informative insight into the purpose of writer/tutor relationships, and emphasizes an alternate, individualistic setting, of which the MHS Writing Center could potentially exercise to a greater standard.

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  6. The article "Why Writers need Writing Tutors" by Muriel Harris I enjoyed immensely because I agreed with the statements made, and how it tied in with the Mattawan Writing Center so well. On one hand, I enjoyed how Muriel discussed that writers need several parts of knowledge not just from the classroom setting. This pertains also to the fact that teachers can't teach you personally everything with other peoples needs in the class setting. So going to the Writing Center, not only do people learn new knowledge about writing, they also can get help with things that go along with their personal needs as a writer. I feel that also this article connects to a wide range of writing centers and how the Writing Centers try to work. The article talks about the larger issues like intimidation, or how flexible a student can be when working on their personal struggles. Or it talks about how most students need other knowledgeable types of teaching than just in the same learning style of a class. For instance, just like other Writing Centers, this article explains that the goals and the different perspectives of students are wonderful and will lead them to become better writers. However, just like most Writing Centers as well, the article explains that not all the experiences will be positive in consultations. The article further explains that some teachers and students will feel negative about the Writing Center and only come in if forced. Some even come in with the false notion of the Writing Center, and will be upset that the consultants don't just fix their papers for them. I feel that all the information Harris stated can be used in the MHS Writing Center. One of the most useful pieces of information that could be used is the idea of helping the students needs. In further detail, the consultants should focus on what the student is struggling with. This branches out to helping put the teachers words into something the students can understand. Or the consultants could help the reader become more accustomed to the way the teachers speak by helping students understand writing prompts fully. Or they can just help the students work on a certain part of writing that the specific person has difficulties with. In a similar manner, we as the MHS Writing Center cannot change what the students are receiving as stressful assignments. However as a whole, we can make their experiences more comfortable, and stress free as possible.

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  7. The article "Why Writers Need Writing Tutors" by Muriel Harris I really appreciated and enjoyed because it makes excellent points, and gives many good examples and facts illustrating the importance of tutors for everyone, not just the people that need extra help. In the Writing Center, this article connects in many different ways, Harris targets how some students come in that don't want to be there and how we encourage them to take part in the appointment, and most of the time the consultant leaves with a beneficial experience that won't only help them with that paper, but also in the future. Also he states that the students attitude is more personal then to a teacher, meaning that the student may get more help from a peer who is their age and feels more comfortable with one on one help. One other way is the level of guidance that we can give the student outside the setting of a classroom, by being peer tutors we can help more outside of the classroom like reducing the stress and convincing them off the ledge when consulting them about a paper. Taking many things away from this article and applying it to the Writing Center, I will make sure that my client will leave the appointment feeling like one of their worries was accomplished and feel more controlled with what they are writing. Also as a class we can help by letting them fix their own mistakes, pointing out a few here and there is very helpful, but letting the client fix it will help in the long run and be more efficient to them in the future. Not only can we keep doing that, we can also clarify any questions they might have about the prompt or help them get ideas down if stuck and don't know where to go. As the Writing Center continues to grow, we can help more students every day with this knowledge and make writing less of a hassle and more peaceful.

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  8. Personally, I found the article Talking in the Middle:Why Writers Need Writing Tutors highly relatable as well as understanding. When I was younger, about third grade, I struggled with learning in the classroom setting. I couldn’t focus; subsequently, my lack of focus began to reflect within my grades. Time and again, my mother would constantly arrange meetings with my teachers in order to solve my learning conflicts. The overall decision was to hold me back a grade; however, my mother knew that wasn’t necessary. She knew that all I needed was a more intimate way of learning. Thus, we decided to try tutoring. I was tutored for about three years and the results showed improvements. I began to excel and by the time I reached middle school, I transitioned back into classroom learning and overall achieved a more independent way of learning.
    Initially this article connects greatly to the total goal and purpose of writing center. Consultants that work in the writing center are the ‘middle person’ as mentioned in the article Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors. Workers in the writing center are allotted the honest ability to create a more trustworthy environment for a student to ask questions they are afraid to ask teachers. Harris, the author, mentions “Here’s someone who might just help them, maybe even show them what’s wrong, what to fix, or what the writing assignment is about. As the conversation progresses, they begin to talk more freely and more honestly because they are not in the confines of a teacher/student relationship where there are penalties for asking what they perceive as “dumb” questions” (Harris 28). Tutors have the ability to ease a student while creating conversation about the writing itself. Likewise, the purpose of writing center is to add thought or another perspective to one’s writing on a student/student level. This enables a stress-free while more intimate way for students to improve their writing without worrying about the anxiety of speaking with teachers. As a whole, the article further understands the purpose of writing center.
    Overall, the article Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors, provides examples that are applicable to the writing center. More specifically, the article features the idea that tutors provide no limits as well as relieve pressure. For instance, “When talking with a teacher, most students will feel pressure to perform, to look as if they’re knowledgeable-in other words, to use presentational talk” (Harris 31). This observes the idea that tutors are more comfortable to talk to than teachers. In order to improve, writing center consultants can make sure they are providing the an environment that allows for pressure to be relieved. Also, consultants can focus on providing information to a writer as well as a safe haven.

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  9. We are the Middle
    While reading the article, “Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors” I found very many similarities between what Muriel Harris was talking about, and our Mattawan Writing Center. The entire concept he was laying out, was the importance of a middle ground between students and their teachers. That middle ground would happen to be the Writing Center. Just like Muriel stated about Writing Centers is that “its primary responsibility-to work one-to-one with writers”(27). That is how we apply our one-to-one student to consultee process and the similarities continue from then on.
    Our Writing center is meant to be a comfortable place for students to receive help or support during their writing period. It is meant to be a stress-free experience and is even supposed to get them to relax and not worry about their actual paper. When in our sessions “[a] truly reluctant student knows that she doesn’t have to do anything, won’t be graded, and in a worst-case scenario, can silently count the cracks in the ceiling while the tutor talks”(28). The comfortable nature of the situation is what makes the meeting a success, because speaking to someone at the same level, age and usually grade-wise is a lot less strenuous than seeing a teacher with a degree probably in English. Muriel writes, “As tutors we are there to help reduce the stress, to overcome the hurdles set up by others, and to know more about writing than a roommate or friend, maybe even as much as their teachers”(29).
    During my sessions, I spend a lot of time talking with the student before and after the paper is read. We don’t always just talk about the work they’ve written, I ask questions about why they chose certain examples and quotes and how they planned out their piece while reading the books they pulled evidence from. I want the to hear themselves say why they did what they did. This is exactly like what Muriel writes in his article saying, “Sitting with a student for a half-hour or an hour, a tutor is able to work primarily with the writer as a person, even when the paper is there on the table between them. Tutors use talk and questioning and all the cues they can pick up in the face-to-face interaction”(29). Being apart of the Writing center is not about just fixing the paper, it’s about helping the student understand their writing, whether that means they need to fix, just restructure, or even find confidence in their paper.
    Overall, “[h]elping students get the “feel” of some aspects of writing is part of what a tutor can do as she sits next to the student, talking, modeling, and offering suggestions, even though writing is a more sophisticated activity than any of these”(33). Everything leads back to a tutor helping the student understand their own writing, or understand how to do something that is apart of the writing process. Things like “setting appropriate goals”(33), and learning how to reach them is what the Writing center is all about.
    Personally, I felt like this article was a repetition of all the things that we as a writing center already know from the class. It just talked about comfort, the connection that a tutor makes between the student and the teacher, and the ways that tutors can help. I feel like this is a compilation of all the important aspects of the Writing center, but it was an interesting read to discover that all the other writing centers seem to function in a similar fashion.

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  10. Muriel Harris' "Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors" gives beneficial insight on the importance of writing centers and the role they play for students. In our writing center, our main focus is to create better writers in the long run, a central theme that Harris also agrees with. Harris describes writing centers as a "haven for students where individual needs are met," also a main idea of our writing center. When a student comes into writing center, we work to make sure their concerns can be voiced and taken care of so confidence is built. Many writing centers share our common goal, because it is the entire basis of writing center work. So, to have someone comment on what we do and praise it, it is a very rewarding feeling.
    Also, Harris writes "...writing centers provide another, very crucial aspect of what writers need-tutorial interaction." In most cases, students aren't always able to get one-on-one time with a teacher to sit down and go through a paper, resulting in unanswered questions and concerns the student will have even after turning in the paper. In writing center, we make this service available to the students in order to get those questions answered and create an environment that allows us to go through a paper, thus finding more questions the student may not have even known they had. Harris is openly praising writing centers, which is something that every consultant should realize and be proud of.
    As a whole, I think the most important thing to realize from this article is that writing centers are important. Consultants play a crucial role in the writing process, and what we do doesn't go without recognition. Even if a session doesn't go as planned or seem beneficial, those things happen and it is important to realize that there was still value in the time spent consulting.
    I like this article because it emphasizes the importance of writing centers and explains the clear role we play in helping students.

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  11. The main idea in the article "Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors" is that students have main points that they want to work on, we need to help them with those things. They need new insight, from different people other than their teachers. We as writing center consultants should be paying attention to what students learn in class, therefore we won’t repeat what teachers have already said. We need to find different approaches to help students understand. Having different strategies will guarantee that each student walks out of the writing center with something new to work on, or to fix. This will help both the students and the writing center staff. It will help the students because they will be able to find out different ways to help write their papers. It will also help the staff because it will teach us better ways to teach students. I walked away with many important tools that the author explained.

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  12. I enjoyed Muriel Harris' article "Talking in the Middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors" because he makes his point of focus clear in the beginning paragraph, "... writers gain kinds knowledge about their writing and about themselves that are not possible in other institutionalized settings..." (27). This is important because it communicates with the readers what the key element of a writing center is. His point of focus is also very humble and relatable to consultants within writing centers. I also liked how Harris described the language of teachers and that writing center consultants act as interpreters for the students, "... the tutor interpreted teacher language by translating it into their language, that is, gave meaning to terms they had heard and read and not understood" (36). These two items connect to all writing centers by giving writing centers a defined and reasonable goal: give knowledge about writing and writers. As stated in a previous article - Donald Murray's "Teach Writing as a Process Not Product" - effective consultants should focus heavily on the writer, not the writing. Consultants should also be prepared, as Harris suggests, to act as the medium between teacher and student - to provide insight into the teacher's instructions. Mattawan Writing Center consultants can apply this as the ultimate objective for all consultations.

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  13. Muriel Harris' "Talking in the middle: Why Writers Need Writing Tutors" is something I see as being very useful for writing centers. The explanation of the relationship between writer and tutor vs. writer and teacher makes our importance to all students very apparent. One of our jobs is to help clear up confusion between teacher and student understanding. The reason writing center would be better suited for helping the writer interpret the prompt, is the disconnection from the classroom. We provide students a judgment-free, ask-anything-you-want safe haven to improve upon one of the skills students tend to struggle with the most. It is important for all writing center consultants to remember that our relaxed, peer to peer communication alone is what makes our sessions successful in the eyes of our clients. This is especially important for us as a high school because of the range of writing skill level we receive. One day, we may get a paper that looks like a word scramble, and the next, a perfect college essay. Though it feels like there may be nothing we can do, or so much that only a fraction is addressed during the session, simply being there for the writer, and asking questions is enough to make a difference. By allowing the client to think through and process their work, we take the paper off the stressful gotta-get-a-good-grade-stand, and give the writer the chance to see their paper the way the reader would. Harris explains that it’s the questions and time we give our client, not the answers, that harnesses our ability to carry out our mission as a writing center.

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  14. I agree with Harris’s focus on the writer’s bond with their consultant, but the article was extremely repetitive of what we already do in the Mattawan Writing Center. The key points in this article, responding to your client’s questions, helping them with their personal writing struggles, are already affixed into our writing center. This article, though it provides excellent information on the bond between client and consultant, is repetitive of what we have already discussed and learned through the consultations that we have conducted. This article would be most helpful to writing centers during their training phase, to cover the basics and explain how to handle clients.

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  15. Harris' main point of the article was to point out how students participating with the writing center come to seek out additional views and options to further the development of their paper. By making just a same difference within a consultation is enough to make the client feel a little more confident about turning in their piece. Furthermore, through helping clients in consultations, consultants are able to grasp the same concept. Consultants might not make huge strides with fixing their paper but the most important part is knowing that the client will leave the writing center with the knowledge to point them in the right direction. Since it is already mentioned within the article, consultants might find Harris' points useless . Overall, I believe every writer needs some type of guidance and this article helps support this theory and certainly applies to the consultants and clients in writing centers.

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