Tutoring Friends

I often like to remind my friends that I am a writing tutor and I can help them with any written assignments they have. I do this because I genuinely enjoy helping people through tutoring, and I especially enjoy helping my friends. It absolutely makes my day when I have a friend actually reach out to me and ask to visit me during my walk-ins. I’m always flattered that they remembered I am a tutor and chose to reach out to me for a bit of help. This is why I truly look forward to tutoring my friends.

This semester I’ve had a couple of friends visit me for help with papers from classes I’m also taking. Being in the same classes as my friends is definitely very helpful when it comes to tutoring, and it helps make the session a bit more casual as I’m not intensely trying to figure out the assignment.

I find that tutoring friends is a lot easier than tutoring students I may not know as well, or students I’ve never met before. This is because I have already established a personal connection with them, so I am able to recognize their facial expressions that let me know whether or not they understand what I’m saying, and this helps me shape my words to help them best learn. A big part of tutoring effectively is having an understanding of the tutee. I’m not saying the tutor needs to go grab coffee and chat with their tutee before the session even starts, but it’s nice to have a bit of an understanding of how they work. That is why it is so important for tutors to fill out notes for each session so that other tutors who work with the same student later on can refer to them and come to recognize how they can work with the tutee in an efficient manner.

Some may find it uncomfortable to tutor friends, and I can understand that. There’s a sense of vulnerability you have as a tutee, letting someone (even if you know them well) read your writing. We tend to be protective of our writing, so it takes a strong and open mind to listen to and accept constructive criticism from a tutor. Likewise, it can be difficult as a tutor to point out areas in your friend’s writing that may need some improvement. I try to make my sessions with friends as lighthearted as possible so when I have to say, “okay, I see what you’re trying to do here, but I don’t think it’s coming off as strong as it may seem,” it sounds less critical and more helpful. I take tutoring very seriously, regardless of whether the tutee is a friend of mine or not, but I find that working with a friend is just a tad bit easier and I always leave a session feeling proud and happy to have helped.

– N.S.

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