Since the inaugural Writing In The Schools course is wrapping up, here are some more brief reflections from Butler University tutors culled from our discussions on Facebook the past few weeks:

Julie Bickel: Today, I worked with a girl named I–. She said she was done with her work, but I asked if she wanted to talk, so we did. We talked about college, what her plans were, what her interests were, and then she showed me some music videos and we talked about our mutual like for certain bands. Then the teacher printed out her work and asked if she was going to revise it. She said she was done, and he said, “I know you think you are, but you’re not.” We looked at her resume and cover letter and revised a few things.

What struck me, though, was how sure she was that she had nothing further to revise/learn about her work. I guess it’s just interesting how sure of ourselves we cn be, and those are the times when we most need to learn and be aware of how much we don’t know and have yet to learn.

Krysten Plahm: I had a session that I won’t soon forget. Working through the assignment (creating 10 new sentences with the given vocabulary words), the student was able to understand what the word meant in his own words once he read the definition out loud. We would talk about the word for a few seconds, and he would go, “Wait, I think I got it, is it kind of like…?”, and he would relate the word’s definition to experiences in his own life. He actually made a personal connection with each of the sentences we created, which I thought was remarkable. At the end of the session, we talked for about 10 minutes after finishing the assignment, and he told me about his love for music and how he wants to play for the rest of his life. The one thing that really struck me was when he said, “You know, Krysten, because of your help today, you have really made me think about possibly going somewhere to study music.” I never had thought my help would influence a student’s career path.

Carol Taylor: I was blown away Thursday by the level of writing we’re starting to see from our lit group. One student shared a story with lots of potential that moves in a much different direction than the previous stories we’ve seen from her. Another shared several poems that were well above the level at which I could write one. I think it’s more important than ever to keep this momentum going. If they keep progressing at this pace, the magazine they produce will be outstanding.

Nicole Simon: Yesterday during the lit group, one of the girls was taking exception to the exercise we were doing. I brought her out in the hallway, so that we could just talk and I could see what was going on. When we first left the classroom, the student and I were practically racing around the hallways because she was so riled up. We eventually talked about things ranging from the writing exercise to a steak-eating contest she had with her grandmother over break. Eventually, I was able to figure out that this student was really scared to step out of her comfort zone. This is why she had become so irritated and upset. By the end of the walk we were actually walking at a slow, calm pace, and it was clear she felt much better. This walk was extremely helpful for the student. I think sometimes kids really just need that one-on-one “safe space” where they can just talk or vent without feeling threatened or judged. And I think it is important to notice when they really need that personal time away from writing and academia.