Tutor Shaming: Remembering that We’re Only Human

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Imagine this scenario. Billy has an assignment for his English 1301 course. The paper is due tomorrow morning, but he doesn’t quite understand what the professor is asking for. You, the tutor, are in charge of ensuring Billy understands his assignment before he leaves the writing center. He’s heard many success stories- a few of his classmates have come to the writing center before, and they ALL GOT As! Billy expects the same kind of success.

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You discuss the prompt with him, and with the help of Billy’s notes, the assignment sheet, and a few of your fellow tutors, you have come up with a plan of attack for Billy’s paper. He states that he feels confident, and maybe you’re feeling it, too!

BUT two weeks later, Billy comes into the writing center, angry, because he has gotten a B. He thought you could help him. He needed to get an A! He came to YOU for help, so it MUST be YOUR FAULT. He argues that it’s your job to go tell his professor that he came to the writing center, it’s your fault the paper wasn’t good enough, and that he should get an A.
Eesh. Billy doesn’t seem like he’s a very pleasant person.

You resolve the issue, but it bugs you for the rest of the day. You go home, tail tucked between your legs, and wonder all night long: what if it was your fault?

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​When we’re set up on a pedestal for the amazing work we do here at the UWC, sometimes clients, professors, and even us tutors forget that we aren’t always perfect! This is why, for my first blog post EVER (Yes, yes, thank you. Please, hold your applause until the end.), I wanted to remind everyone that we are all only human.

​“We occasionally we feel like we can or should do more, but sometimes we can’t,” one of our tutors, Isabella, says despondently. “It’s upsetting sometimes, especially when it comes down to the wire, that we can’t do much. I want to help, but sometimes, I just can’t.”

Tutors are just like other students. We stress out, have homework, need to sleep, eat, and binge watch House, M.D. on Netflix. Even right now, as I’m typing this, I’m stress-eating cheesy bread procured during the lunch rush at the Student Union Building.

And just like other college students, sometimes tutors make mistakes.

“Students need to take our advice to a certain degree,” states Julio, a graduate student and tutor here at the University Writing Center. “They know their professor better than we do. If we give them advice that counters what their professor said, they need to say so.”


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Bekah, an undergrad tutor that has been working at the UWC since February of last year, agrees. “It’s fairly common that we see a professor who likes things slightly different than the traditional way of doing it. Their idea of APA format may be a little different than regulation. Maybe it’s a different font size they’re looking for. Maybe they want Calibri instead of Times New Roman.”

But any tutor will agree that they do their best to get their clients the grades that their hard work deserves.

“The struggle is always worth it when your clients come in, proud of the grade they received,” says Julio. “And they come back, and they ask for you, because they know, more often than not, coming in for help really works.”

All we can really hope for, as tutors, is that we grow and learn as students and people alongside our clients. Not only do we help them, but they really help us, too!


by: Beth Marie Cantu
Thanks to our tutors for reminding us they aren’t perfect! Mark (Above), Bekah (Middle Right), and Julio (Bottom Left).
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