Sunday, April 5, 2009

NEWCA 2009 - Day 2

I led my first SIG this morning - Tutoring in the Disciplines. Last year was the first year that SIGs were introduced into the program; they were held on Sunday morning and each SIG was held twice, at 10 a.m. and again at 11 a.m., so that if interested attendees could visit more than one SIG. We repeated that model this year, and I was pleased that people actually showed up at both sessions. I attempted to put something together so I could have a handout, a bibliography or "suggested reading" or something of the sort, but couldn't really find anything that would have been too helpful, and in a sense I'm glad it worked out that way because "tutoring in the disciplines" had meant something else to me than it did those who attended my SIG. I was thinking that tutoring in the disciplines was more along the lines of tutoring across the disciplines, while others were more concerned with tutoring writing in various fields, which is the other part of tutoring in the disciplines that I had been thinking of.

I realized in the first hour just how concerned tutors are in terms of tutoring writing in disciplines about which they know very little - any field that isn't directly in their major or about a topic they know something about - but there was equal concern and interest in that line between tutoring and outright teaching, being directive vs. being non-directive; in essence, determining when you have to teach or re-teach concepts directly vs. leading the student through her basic understanding of the material in order for her to understand the higher level material. We-the-tutors can still address the writing itself in terms of clarity or format (a lab report vs. a legal brief vs. a research paper, etc.), but there was a distinct line about what we
do allow ourselves to do as tutors, and what we feel we should not do. Most of that concern boils down to not wanting to take over the session or doing the students' work for them, and keeping those "best practices" in mind also, but learning to distinguish when it might be acceptable, and even needed, to do within the confines of a tutoring session, and when we're crossing boundaries. These were most of the issues that came up in the SIGs, and I'm really glad I got the chance to lead that particular one. And if I get the chance to lead that SIG again, I'll have an idea of the types of resources I might be able to bring.

The drive home was much smoother than Friday's drive. No rain whatsoever, and I was home by mid-afternoon. I have a video that I edited together but it's such a large one - almost 1G, an hour and 19 minutes long - that I can't quite figure out where I can upload it yet. And I'm having trouble editing it back into manageable portions (dividing it between the opening remarks, the keynote speech, and the talk given at lunch), which is what I should have done to begin with. My harddrive is nearly full, and I suspect that's affecting my ability to do much with iMovie.

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