Part tutor, part teacher, part therapist, part cheerleader. I know why I do this. I know why I am getting this degree. I like helping students. I like making first year students see and then really REALLY believe that they have a voice and that the have the right, the responsibility, to get that voice out there into the conversation.
Last night I sat and I talked with a student for over an hour. At first we worked on the paper and went through it line by line but then when that was done, he sat there. This was a student who was bitter and pissed off when he sat down. Unhappy with his grade, he had been told one of the ways to improve the final score was to come see me (I, by the way, am worth ten points). In writing centers we are sometimes hesitant to meet with students who are there for the points. The appointments can become what anything is when it is obligatoy, like a kiss to a great-aunt, brief and uncomfortable for both people.
In any case, I battled this kid all through the appointment. Showing him what his professor was talking about and maybe making him see she hadn't been so unreasonable with her grade afterall. He was pissed when he sat down and an hour later I couldn't get him to walk away.
What it all came to was that he was overwhelmed and scared that he doesn't belong here. This kid with tattoos running up the inside of both of his forearms, from the inner city of Philadelphia was scared that he couldn't hack it at IUP (or college in general). So, for the last 30 minutes of his appointment we sat there and I tried to talk him up and convince him that he is in the right place. So often underclassmen don't think anyone wants to hear what they have to say. We have to change that. These kids need to know that they have an obligation to enter the conversation. In the case of this student, I had to convince him that college is sometimes about doing things you don't want to do. He had to know that we can't be interested in every paper we write. He needs to see the value in the excercise because when he finally gets into that class where his passion is ignigted, he will have the grace and the skill to express his thoughts and opinions and then people won't just let him speak, they will wait to hear what he has to say.