Written by Kate Harner
Willimantic, Conn. - Eastern Connecticut State University has published "From Tutor to Tutor: A Guidebook for Writers," a book written by students under the leadership of Lauren Rosenberg, associate professor of English and coordinator of Eastern's First Year Writing program.
The idea for the book came from student tutors in Rosenberg's Tutoring Writing class in fall 2009. The peer tutors in Eastern's Writing Center work one-on-one with fellow students on their writing assignments for class. While the student tutors received training during the course, the books and articles they read were all written by scholars and professors of composition and rhetoric. Nothing was available by students their age. They chose to do something about it.
Throughout the fall 2010 and spring 2011 semesters, the tutor-trainees met with Rosenberg to plan, write and edit a guidebook by peers for peers. "Nothing like this is out there," said Rosenberg. "We didn't model our book after any other because there are no student-written works like this."
"From Tutor to Tutor" is composed of 18 essays that range in topics from dealing with plagiarism to working with English as a Second Language students to handling unexpected experiences during tutoring sessions. Essays include "What to Do When You Have No Clue"; "Meeting with a Tutor for the 'Write' Reasons: Why Voluntary Meetings Beat Mandatory Sessions"; and "Turning Stressful to Productive," among others. Each essay is written by a student trained in Writing Center theory and pedagogy in either Eastern's Tutoring Writing or Composition and Theory Pedagogy courses.
"As a future teacher, I think the experience of contributing to this guidebook will prove especially useful to me because this is the kind of practical, hands-on activity I will want to use in my classroom," said Ken Clark, an English and education major from West Haven. "This experience epitomizes the liberal arts education. We didn't just read a bunch of theories and strategies from a book and memorize them. We discussed them and criticized them. We actually tried using them and found out what works and what doesn't. Then, drawing from those experiences and using what we've learned in the classroom and from each other, we created something of our own - something new."
"Writing an essay for the guidebook was an introspective experience because it allowed me to reflect on my tutoring methods as I considered what advice I wanted to pass down to future tutors," said Lauren Biatowas, an English and education major from Shelton. "The entire revision process helped my tutoring because I was able to get ideas and tips about tutoring strategies from my co-tutors. I found that through our essays, we shared experiences that we had never discussed before. It's exciting that all these student-written essays are published in this guidebook because it extends the conversation about tutoring to future writing tutors at Eastern."
The student-writers who contributed to "Tutor to Tutor" include Kellin Atherton '11, an English major from Niantic; Nate Belke, a senior environmental earth science major from East Lyme; Lauren Biatowas, a senior English and education major from Shelton; April Blymiller '11, an English major from Dayville; Romiesha Briscoe '11, a social work major from Bloomfield; Alyssa Clark, a junior English and education major from West Haven; Ken Clark, a senior English and education major from West Haven; Jason Custer '11, an English major from East Hampton; Travis Dahlke '11, a visual arts major from Columbia; Dazmon Harris '11, a performing arts major from Hartford; Alex Jenkin, a senior English and mathematics major from Meriden; Emily Joyce '11, a communication major from East Hampton; Andrew Minikowski, a senior English and economics major from Colchester; Meghan Mizak, a senior English major from Mystic; Alaric Robinson II '11, a sport and leisure management major from Hartford; Nicole Rogers '11, an English major from East Hartford; Kendall Smith '10, a history major from Plainfield; and Kyle St. Jean, a senior history and social science major from Plainfield.
"Tutor to Tutor" was made possible through a Title III grant coordinated by Margaret Martin, professor of social work, as well as through a Project Compass grant with the support of Carmen Cid, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences. Project Compass supports efforts to increase retention and graduation rates for minority, low-income and first-generation college students.