The most exciting part of my job as a reading and writing tutor is when I start working with a new student. Once we’re past all the paperwork and we can get to work. I love that part because I know we are about to start an exciting season of reading, writing, researching and talking about language and writing and stories. My job is great, y’all!
But my second favorite part comes later. It sometimes starts with a question, from either me or the parents, “What do you think about…” cutting back our schedule, taking the summer off, or shifting our focus to something else. And soon, I’m reciting my last minute reminders for the writers as I send them off to their next challenges.
Why it’s great
I know that the “self-regulated” part of SRSD is working when I see a student start to take more ownership over the writing process. In the first stage of practicing, I sort of interview them about their topic to fill in each part of the plan. “Hmm, you think agriculture was the most important development. Why do you think that? Ah, that sounds like an important detail. I’m going to put it here.”
After some practice, I can say, “And what are the supporting details?” or “What do those ideas have in common?” and they know how to use the information in their paragraph.
By the end of writing tutoring with a student, I can serve more of an editing role. I might read a paragraph and say, “This part confused me,” or “Can you explain more about why you said this?” They might be able to independently plan an essay and write a whole draft before meeting with me. In those drafts, I can see the planning that lies under their writing. They have started with the basic framework they learned with me and they And we can spend that bonus learning time refining ideas, finding synonyms, and studying the picky details of a formal writing style.
But in the end, they just plain don’t need writing help anymore! That’s the beauty of teaching flexible writing strategies that work for different years, different teachers, and different kinds of writing. Students learn not just the “how” but the “why” of writing techniques, knowledge which helps them to customize their writing approach for new assignments.
Maybe I’m weird. I mean, how many other professionals brag, “my clients keep leaving me!” But it really is my favorite to see students move on. They have reclaimed their evenings from homework frustration. They have set and achieved goals that demand strong writing skills. And they have done it with confidence because they know how to make a plan and get their ideas on paper.
If you want your child to have access to these tools and leave writing homework anxiety behind, I recommend you check out my mini-course, the Academic Writing Lifeline for Parents I wrote it for parents instead of their kids because I think young writers really do need to bounce their ideas off of someone else while they learn to organize them for writing. And these are the tools a parent needs to confidently support their children through any writing assignment that comes home.