Monday, November 9, 2015

AR3: "Minimalist Tutoring"

One of the common fears that teachers voice when discussing whether or not a student should utilize the writing center revolves around the idea of ownership and the "intrusiveness" of writing center consultations-- they fear that the consultant will end up feeding a client too many ideas, and it's no longer the clients work. They can be concerned that the consultant will write all over the paper, making changes, eliminating errors, and erasing the writer from the piece all together. While we know this isn't the case, so people believe that writing centers should take steps to reduce the potential of this happening. This article discusses the hows and whys of being a minimalist tutor; Jeff Brooks discusses why minimalist tutoring is important and what it means for the writing center and consultants. 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?

14 comments:

  1. Overall, I enjoyed reading this article. I thought that it was very short and sweet and got the point across very well, without being close to a novel. Furthermore, this article can be used in writing centers at whole and in the MHS Writing Center in mostly the same ways. Basically, we and other writing centers need to make sure that students understand that we are not here to edit their papers. In the third paragraph, Jeff Brooks writes, "When you "improve" a student's paper, you haven't been a tutor at all; you've been an editor. You have been an exceedingly good editor, but you've been of little service to your student." All writing centers need to keep this in mind, and Brooks even gives some ways to show students that you won't edit their papers. He says body language is a big one, and if a student is pushing you to edit their papers, then you should push back from the paper, get further away from it, yawn, look at the clock. He also suggests just flat out telling the student that you won't edit their paper. Of course, he suggests that we say this in a nicer way, and gives the example of, "It's your grade, not mine." Both our MHS Writing Center and writing centers at whole can benefit by taking and applying these same pieces of information.

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  2. I agree with Jeff Brooks on all of his points. This article was straight to the point and had great examples. At a large, this can connect to all writing centers, many of these examples people in the writing centers have done like taking over the student's paper. Brooks states "Our message to students should be: "Your paper has value as a piece of writing. It is worth reading and thinking about like any other piece of writing." This can and should be connected to all writing centers at a large to have the students feel more comfortable coming to a writing center. All of Brooks' points can be taken and used greatly in the MHS Writing Center. One point that stuck out to be was the Basic Minimalist Tutoring, many of these steps we are already using, but they can still can be reminded of. I took from this article that being a minimalist tutor is very important, it makes a big difference in the consultant and the Writing Center as a whole.

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  3. To be honest I see where Jeff Brooks is coming from and I agree with his points. The article was easy to read and gave many examples that helped prove his points. The article can be put into effect at the MHS writing center pretty easily, it pretty much states that we as the staff need to make sure the students understand we aren't their tutors or their spell check. We are there to help with ideas, organization, but not editing. I think my favorite part of the article was when he stated "It's your grade not mine". I believe this is something thats very simple but very powerful because its very true. When a student comes into the writing center some may expect us to point out all of the periods missing or capitalize the letters for them, but by helping them with broad topics it shows them that its not our paper that we are turning in. We shouldn't have to tell them what to do we just suggest. Our writing center can really benefit by taking his article into consideration.

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  4. In Jeff Brooks' article, "Minimalist Tutoring; Making Students Do All the Work," he makes several valid points about tutoring styles. Brooks writes, "we sit down with the imperfect papers, but our job is to improve their writers," a common philosophy among most writing centers, ours included. I agree with Brooks' on several of his points, such as the one about sitting next to the writer. We practice this in our writing center because it allows the student to feel like they are working with a peer rather than an authority figure.
    However, I don't agree with the point Brooks makes about sitting on the opposite side of the reader, with the dominant hand away from the paper. To me, this doesn't make sense because many of our clients are perfectly fine with the consultants writing on their papers. I don't think this is a strategy we implement in our writing center. We have discussed this before, and in my mind, it is just important to make sure we check with the client before writing on their paper.
    I like the discussion of keeping a close eye on the client's body language because it can really tell how the consultation is going to go. This being said, I think it would be interesting if we discussed this more in class and talked about the different body languages of clients. If we discussed this more in class, our consultants may be able to detect how a consultation is going to go before it begins, rather than dealing with an unresponsive client throughout the entire process.
    I liked the article and enjoyed reading it, and found the points very applicable to our writing center.

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  5. I agreed with Jeff Brooks and this article immensely. I felt that most of the tips he pointed out were things that I personally was struggling with. My favorite part was the ways to avoid resisting clients who want their papers to be edited by the consultant. I feel that I will really use these tips in the future as well. And at large, I believe this article connected with many writing centers. The reason for this, is because most writing centers strive to not be seen or looked at as editors, but helping the students become better writers as a whole. I also feel that the article Brooks wrote ties in with the MHS Writing Center. The Writing Center at MHS really focuses on the points mentioned in the article. Even when its the summer camp for two days, we start by using the tips Brooks stated and apply them to our practice consultations. I feel that our Writing Center should really take some of these extra idea's and apply them to what we already have in the future.

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  6. I find that Jeff Brooks’ article has some very good points on how the format of a session should be. All writing centers face clients coming in with misinterpretations as to what the purpose of the writing center is. It makes sense that all writing centers would benefit from Brooks’ steps on how to reorient the session, and the client’s views of what it should be. Its easy and simple steps will save myself (and probably other members of our writing center) some stress when facing a client who is trying force what they want out from us out. “Borrow student body language” and saying “I don’t know, it’s your paper,” are specific things that stood out to me. I know that our MHS center already utilizes a several of these methods, so adding a few more would be a simple task.

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  7. Jeff Brooks recognizes that there is a difference between a writing tutor and a writing editor. In his article, "Minimalist Tutoring: Making Students Do All the Work," he explains that improving a paper won't help the writer at all. Editing solely focuses on the product, not the process. The writer may want a finished, shiny product from their writing, may even push the tutor to make the product for them, but that is simply not what the Writing Center is built to do. Writing Center is built to offer tutors, not editors, to help guide writers through the process of writing. Brooks states, "Ideally, the student should be the only active agent in improving their paper." I think this is a very realistic goal that Writing Center consultants should have. Brooks suggests that consultants should focus on what the writer has achieved through the paper, not on what they have failed at. He also says that consultants should keep their body language in mind, as to not communicate the wrong message to clients. Consultants should also, according to Brooks, treat the writer's work as a sort of "extension" to the literary work they are analyzing, "We ought to encourage students to treat their own writings as texts that deserve the same kind of close attention we usually reserve for literary texts." Jeff Brooks provides ample evidence that there is a major difference between tutors and editors, and how important it is that Writing Center consultants act as the former. "Minimalist Tutoring: Making Students Do All the Work" is an enlightening piece into what Writing Centers should aim for as a goal.

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  8. "Minimalist Tutoring: Making Students Do All the Work" accentuates the dangers of becoming a borderline editor, rather than a leading tutor for Writing Center clients. It is often too easy to slip into the role of an observant critic, and disregard our real responsibility of harnessing clients' weaknesses and developing them over time. Author Jeff Brooks leaves consultants slightly abashed by the recognition that "when you 'improve' a student's paper, you haven't been a tutor at all . . .you've {actually} been of little service to your student". Try as we might to aid students at every opportunity, Brooks points out that the scripting of a "perfect" document is rather unnecessary, considering the Writing Center's primary goal of enhancing writers: not their papers. "To avoid the trap," Brooks states, "we need to make the student the primary agent in the writing center session . . .the student, not the tutor, should 'own' the paper and take full responsibility for it." Contrary to the popular belief that consultants assume the duty of editing students' papers for them, Brooks places the obligations with the student, and encourages consultants to step back from the revision process. I agree with "Making Students Do All the Work" on account of its main theme, and its helpful hints intended to resolve the "editing role" adopted by many current consultants. The MHS Writing Center, certainly, could benefit from Brooks's outtake of the modern WC issue by instilling caution in consultants, and avoiding the common editing error.

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  9. The greatest thing I took away from the article, "Minimalist Tutoring" by Jeff Brooks was in the final paragraph when he says, "The less we do to the paper, the better. Our primary object in the writing center session is not the paper, but the student". The entire article was focused on that notion. The notion that the writing center is a tutoring program, not an editing program. I agreed with everything he was talking about and I feel like Mattawan Writing Center had covered all of the points that he mentioned. Sitting next to the student, not writing on their paper, trying to ask them questions instead of telling them the issues. They're all strategies that we already use during out consultations. The one thing that I found very interesting was when he mentioned to "borrow student body language", as a way to express that we are not editors. I never really thought of doing something like that. Yet, body language is a large part of human interaction and is commonly easier to understand than verbal expression on many things, especially something like a student wanting the writing center member to whip out a red pen and be an editor. I'm quite interested to try this on my next consultation, probably with a younger student, because they're the ones that seem to expect me to do all the work when we sit down together. So, overall, I fell like this article was another extension of what we have already learned within the Writing center classroom and we just need to continue doing the things mentioned.

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  10. Overall, I thought that the overall message of the article is very beneficial and important to understand as writing consultants. The main focus of the essay talks about the importance of improving a student’s writing process, not simply the student’s paper. “I think most writing center tutors agree that we must not become editors for our students and that the goal of each tutoring student is learning, not a perfect paper” (Brooks 1). I really liked this quote because it summarizes what the author is trying to present. As writing consultants, our job isn’t to only make corrections and tell the student what to do. We should encourage the student throughout the session. We should focus on the details of where we sit and how we present ourselves. We should make sure the let the student talk and explain their thought process of how they wrote. We should make sure to give a student tasks to work on after they see us in a consultation. All of these tactics will help improve our value to students.

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  11. I really liked this article because it explained practical things a tutor can do to make their sessions efficient. It really drew the line between tutor and editor. This can be applied to writing centers at large because it changes the perspective from the students paper to their writing in general. All writing centers need to be in the mindset to help the writing abilities of clients rather than help them get a good grade on a single piece. I thought some things that apply to MHS writing center were the ideas about body posture, and how that can effect a consultation. I also liked the ideas about giving the student a writing task to complete, and then stepping away while they work on it. I thought these were all great tactics to help build up the skill of writing in general.

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  12. I agree full heartedly with Brooks and the points he made in the essay "Minimalist Tutoring. In his essay, Brooks elaborates on the idea that, as a writing center consultants, the goal of a consultation is to improve the writer and their skills not the paper they bring in. This idea is applicable to MHS Writing Center and any writing tutor in general. In fact, MHS Writing Center already uses some of Brooks' advice such as not sitting across from the student and having the student read the paper out loud to you. Brooks also gives advice on how to avoid scenarios where the consultant is acting like a editor instead of a tutor. I like how Brooks distinguished between these two roles. When teaching or consulting, I have the urge to edit and fix a paper itself instead of helping the person who wrote it first. Brooks' essay reminds consultants of their role as a tutor and how the positive outcome of editing a student's paper is short term.

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  13. I thoroughly enjoyed Brook’s article. This article was short, sweet, and to the point. From its beginning, the paper states that writing centers are supposed to help improve the writer, not the paper. This improvement does not mean changing their writing style or intruding into their writing and alienating their work. Brook’s provides bulleted points throughout the paper, allowing it to be used for further usage as a learning tool for writing centers. Writing centers at large can get a lot of things out of this article, from the tactics described to the way that Brook’s explains hovering consultants. Mattawan’s own writing center can take away a renewed sense of how to deal with their clients who come in expecting the writing center to be a collection of editors.

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  14. Jeff Brooke certainly gives solid points within this article. I found it very enjoyable and somewhat relatable. The thought that writing centers may try to write or fix a clients paper completely and mainly by themselves surely posses many controversies and can create labels on writing centers. The idea of minimal tutoring is very prominent among the Mattawan writing center. As a consultant I have learned how to allow the client to adjust their writing in a way that is entirely on their own. Consultants need to understand that we are merely a guide to the client and the path they are on. In contrast, there have been some situations where the client is really struggling and the consultant will need to be more than just a guide. As Brooke mentions this sometimes is taken too far and there has to be some sort of limit or boundary to such help. To make sure this happens, the writing center should have clients ask more questions. Also if consultants or the clients write down things to keep in mind and that was covered during the consultation may remind them of what they need to do in the future. All in all, these certain strategies may help with the adoption of minimalist tutoring within writing centers.

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