Boy, was this a busy week! I’m happy and feeling satisfied having completed my first round of tutoring papers for Jason Hill’s course “After Photojournalism?” This first paper (“dispatch”) called to evaluate the effectiveness of the photos in a particular photojournalistic essay in a 1950s LIFE Magazine (pretty interesting!). I truly felt like a UD professor working one-on-one with my tutees’ papers, helping them further develop their ideas and cite their sources correctly.

So, how am I as a tutor? So far, I’ve noticed I’m a huge fan of “pushing the thesis” just a little bit more. I encouraged almost every student to challenge their ideas and develop them to the full extent. I’m not as much as a grammar-freak as I thought I would be; I found myself paying closer attention to diction and sentence flow than punctuation. I like the openness and casual environment I’ve been able to establish with my tutees the most. I remember being so shy and awkward with my Writing Fellow freshman year, and I’m so glad to see my tutees are as outgoing as I’ve sworn myself to be in this situation. No awkward silences, and no uncomfortable introductory conversations.

This first round was a learning experience for me, of course, in how exactly to interpret the prompt and best guide my tutees toward fulfilling it. For example, Professor Hill requires his students cite Chicago style, and brilliant me had no idea what this meant. So accustomed to MLA, I was at a loss of how to tell my tutees how to cite that way. I directed them to use Purdue Owl (“Yes, it is spelled like the chicken,” I told them), which is an online resource that can tell you everything and anything about citing. I wanted to be absolutely sure they followed this specific requirement on the prompt, and that they used the best source possible, not me, to do so. There were specific “tasks” to complete on the prompt, like utilizing an outside source, editorial, and advertisement that supported the analysis and arguments about the photojournalistic essay. I made absolutely sure each student’s dispatch contained this. Some students particularly struggled with thesis formation –as most students, including myself, do –and then specifically citing evidence to push it. I suggested ways to do this and stressed its importance, and my tutees were very receptive to this. I always closed my conferences by telling my them to feel free to send me a second draft (“This is something I enjoy doing, don’t worry”).

Round one: complete. I was scared initially, but that feeling went away mid-way through my first conference. By the time it was over, my brain was smiling and saying “I can do this, I got this. I’m a writing tutor, and these guys are counting on me.” Well, I can’t wait until the next round already. I am looking forward to seeing my “little minions” write in their own voices and styles in the next paper!

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Ashley Dayne Bostwick