How boring is it when you start a new job and all they do is give you a list of duties, or dry pages of a handbook or they make you watch some decades old instructional video? It seems that these small steps can hardly be considered training. In a world where we’re always connected to the thick of things it seems that we always want to jump right in and perhaps in the case of job training we should.There is no better way to figure out if you are truly suited for a job than shadowing and getting some hands-on training. I remember a couple of summers ago training to be a hostess at a movie-themed Navy Pier restaurant that shall remain nameless and realizing half way through the training that I was not going to like my job. I never would have been able to realize that if it weren’t for the “jump right in” attitude of their training program.
Well the Writing Center is and is not like that. Let me clarify the “is not” part first. I did not begin shadowing today and suddenly realize that becoming a tutor was a mistake. I did, however, receive the beginnings of a very inclusive form of training called shadowing. Perhaps, active shadowing is a better term for what happens at the writing center.
Getting tutors and writers to allow me to shadow them was much easier than I thought it might be. Of course the tutors were glad to help out a new tutor in training and though the writers seemed nervous about it at first, they (I think) appreciated having a second set of eyes on their piece. I felt a little odd sitting off to the side and making short notes on a pad so I would not forget anything later when I wrote my reflections. I think the writers thought it was a little strange as well, but I assure you writers and tutors alike no judgments were made, I was simply making sure I did not forget something good.
Both sessions were different and both went fairly smoothly. There were no language barriers and neither of the writers were resistant to the help of the tutor. It was definitely interesting to see two different styles of tutoring and I think it will come in handy to use an amalgamation of all the techniques I saw when I take the lead on my own tutorial some day soon.
I know this has been a somewhat vague description of shadowing, but I’ve only just begun. I have more to do yet and therefore have more to learn. I plan to watch and slowly participate more in tutorials next week and hopefully get approved to take the lead. Watching tutorials taught me two very important things today: it is extremely helpful (and great place to begin) to have the student read their work out loud, and that I think I found a job that truly is the right fit for me.