Cultivating a Growth Mindset in the Writing Centre: Student Tutor Nicole Gatchene

Nicole Gatchene continually challenges herself to develop her skills.

When Nicole was a first-year student at Laurier studying History and Political Science, she knew she wanted to be a writing tutor at the Writing Centre. Her preparations for the role began early. Knowing that the writing tutor positions are competitive, Nicole worked very hard in her first two years to achieve a high GPA. At the end of Nicole’s second year, she was in a good position to apply.

“Before working at the Writing Centre all of my jobs were in customer service,” said Nicole. “I love writing and teaching. The Writing Centre position looked like a great opportunity to challenge myself and get paid really well to do so.”

Although Nicole was thrilled to be offered the position, she had a number of worries. For example, she was unsure how to explain grammatical concepts, and she wasn’t confident in her ability to help students in disciplines outside of her own. These worries were ultimately overcome by Nicole’s curiosity, courage, and dedication. After the initial writing tutor training, ongoing professional development, and on-the-job training, Nicole excelled as a writing tutor.

“I now understand the logic behind writing-related topics such as topic sentences and punctuation. I’ve learned how to explain these abstract skills to students in ways that they understand.”

In addition to the writing tutor’s core role of working with students one-on-one, Nicole was eager to engage in other Writing Centre activities. This included co-facilitating weekly Writing Circle sessions during the Winter 2017 term. The Writing Circle provides students with a dedicated time and space to work on their writing in an encouraging group setting, while receiving writing tips and feedback from facilitators. Nicole also contributed regularly to the Writing Centre blog, developing her writing skills in a genre that is applicable to many professions. In addition, Nicole facilitated a Writing Centre professional development meeting by teaching the Writing Centre team about the historiography writing genre. All of these experiences greatly benefited Nicole.

“Working at the Writing Centre for the past two years has been huge for me. It affirmed skills I already had and made them much stronger.”

These skills were instrumental in Nicole’s next challenge: finding a job after graduation. In the final year of her undergrad, Nicole applied for a two-year position through the Ontario Internship Program. This government program is extremely selective with roughly 4,000 applicants competing for 100 positions. As such, the application process is demanding. The first two steps in the process involved assessing Nicole’s writing competencies, particularly her ability to write clearly and concisely. After successfully completing the first two components of the application process, Nicole was invited for an interview, and she was eventually hired.

Nicole will be working within the Program and Service Delivery focus area. This is fitting considering her previous experience at the Writing Centre helping to develop, implement, and evaluate the Writing Circle program.

As Nicole embarks on her new position, the next chapter on her growth and skill development is set to begin.