Quick tips for tutoring

The WriteHereWriteNowWriteOn blog is written by Principia writing tutors. In today’s blog, one tutor gives tips on what it is that tutors can do to help with writing. Read on!

by Shannon Naylor

What do tutors do?

Tutors are an essential resource for any student with questions about any stage of the writing process, from research to invention to revising. Tutors can identify patterns of error or weaknesses in samples of writing. They help their tutees understand what can be refined and teach strategies for correction and improvement. Tutors are trained to handle questions about researching, developing theses and organizing papers, proper citation methods, grammar, revision strategies, and much more.

 What don’t tutors do?

Tutors aren’t professors or editors. We cannot “fix a paper so it gets an A.” We are guides, coaches, and cheerleaders. We point out areas of weakness and give you the tools you need to shore up and strengthen your writing. So while we can’t edit or proofread your paper, after working with us you should be better prepared to tackle any aspect of the writing process.

 How do I get the most out of a tutoring session?

We love to have time to prepare for your specific needs. If you know that you would like tutoring ahead of time, drop by the tutoring café and put yourself down on the sign-up sheet, and tell us what you’d like to work on. This way, if you know you often misuse commas or semi-colons, the tutor you’ll be seeing has a chance to brush up on punctuation rules, the better to help you. We also love it when you bring us a piece of writing to work with. If it’s a printed copy, even better!

Come in with questions! We can help you faster if we know right off the bat what you’d like to learn during the session. That said, don’t be afraid to walk into the café, hands empty and not sure what you’d like to work on. We can also have a lovely chat about the writing process in general.

Assignment sheets are very helpful as well so that we don’t coach you on writing an English thesis paper when you’re supposed to be writing a literature review for biology and vice versa.

While we’re happy to work with you at any point in the writing process, we tend to see a lot of students on the nights before their papers are due. If you have time, sign up to meet with a tutor a few days before the deadline. You’ll be less stressed, the tutor will have fewer students to help at once, and you may find it easier to work on bigger things than proofreading strategies when you have time to revise after the tutor session. Trust me, getting a chance to make sure your ideas are clearly presented matters a lot more than double-checking your comma usage.

I’m in! When can I visit a writing tutor?

The library tutor café is staffed Sunday-Thursday, 8-11 pm, Weeks 2-15. We even have on-call hours during exam days, so be sure to stop by the café during Week 15 and 16 to check the schedule.

Shannon Naylor is a senior studying Theatre and English with a focus on creative writing. Currently, she is working on capstones for her majors as well as the spring production of Our Country’s Good.

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