christina shirley

Embracing the Challenges of Being a Writing Tutor: Student Tutor Christina Shirley

As a Writing Tutor, Christina “learned how to think on my feet.” This key skill as well as other teaching techniques helped her to effectively respond to the huge variety of student needs at the Writing Centre.

While Christina felt that she was a good writer when she began as a Writing Tutor three years ago, she wasn’t certain she had the skills to teach others about writing. She was worried about getting into situations where she couldn’t help students. “It was a huge concern for me, and I was really anxious about it.”

But Christina persevered. She learned different ways to work through challenging situations. To communicate effectively, she sometimes had to “take a step back and take a deep breath.” She stayed focused on finding at least one thing that a student could take forward from one paper to the next.

Christina could relate to students’ concerns about sharing their writing. She recognized that this could be a nerve-wracking experience, but she encouraged students to meet with a Writing Tutor because “it’s worth it.”

Not only did Christina take pride in helping others, but she spent time developing her own writing skills. Meeting with her colleagues encouraged her to improve her own writing. She said, “it has forced me to think about different strategies for writing that I wouldn’t have thought of myself.” Specifically, Christina recognized the importance of planning her writing. She noted, “I never used to write an outline, but we had a training session about outlining, and a switch flipped in my brain.” She took what she learned into her writing appointments with students. She realized that “even papers that are finished could benefit from a reverse outline” because this ensures that the ideas are connected.

In professional development sessions with the team, Christina shared what she learned from her tutoring sessions. She became a mentor to newer tutors at the Writing Centre.

Christina’s plans for the future include doing “fun things in life,” including travelling. She would like to remain in the Waterloo region because she’s happy here.

As Christina transitions into working full-time, she’ll continue to persevere and apply what she has learned as a Writing Tutor to new situations. She encourages others to do the same!