I had a little bit of the wind taken out of my sails yesterday. Granted, the season change often does that, but this was work related.
I pride myself at not entering things that I know I won’t be good at (I know, there’s so many flaws in that), and so when I am doing something and I find that not only am I flawed in my ability to do the appointed task, but told that I clearly don’t have a grasp on what is trying to be accomplished – I get a little sulky.
So far as a Reader in the writing center I have really enjoyed it, though I have been a bit timid as to where the line is drawn as to what I can and cannot suggest. There are always tons of suggestions I could make to another writer, just as a writer could suggest a ton of things about any one of my pieces. My suggestions would come down to style though, and take away from the uniqueness of the artist.
I don’t know how much I can guide a writer when they’re trying to develop their thesis, or figure out their points or organization and so on. How much can I say “move this sentence here and that one there and then add details here, but make sure you bring in some outside research here.”? Since it is a creative process, and while I’m a tutor, I’m not a tutor, so the lines are fairly fuzzy.
We answer emails as well. Students can email us their work and we will read it and create what is called a Jing. We use a program called Jing to create a video response to the essay. I’ve done one of these so far, and had a person I work with go over it and tell me where I can improve. She said I did fine and covered all the points and delivered the critiques in a friendly manner.
The whole team this week is meant to do a practice Jing so that our boss (for lack of better term – leader? perhaps?) can hear what we’re putting out there. She teaches an online class and the essay we were meant to be going over was one of her students’ who was testing out a new writing style, wanted to know about the layout, the style, organization, and if the photos she added were good or just too much (we also encourage multimodial writing, but that’s something I’ll get into another day).
I was nervus about doing it any way becuase I hate being recorded in any way, and then on top of it our head leader lady would be listening and critiquing us. I read the essay. I read it again – I actually read it a few times and really coudln’t find anything to say on it. The organization was good, the style was good and the photos contributed nicely. At a risk of sounding like I was blowing smoke up the student’s ass and not wanting to look like I hadn’t put any thought into the paper, I had to say something.
But I finally found something that I thought could be unpacked a little bit, and I went on and said so.
Several times I assured the student that the essay over all was pretty good, and they’d done a good job – trying to keep it positive.
The Jing wasn’t going to the student, but to our head lead lady. She Jinged me back within the day, the first thing she said was that by me saying it was a good essay that I was critiquing the essay, and not responding as a reader. She told me that because of this I clearly did not have the right idea as to what the Writing Center was about.
The rest were helpful tips and the like, but that last part really stung. She’s a really nice lady, and I’m sure she didn’t mean to come across so harshly, but to be told that not only was I wrong, but I don’t know what I’m doing had a vague note of “maybe we didn’t hire the right person.” I know that’s me being paranoid and just really wanting to do well, but at the end of the day, I didn’t have a good interview with her when I got the job. The interview was fine, but her response to me didn’t seem entirely enthusiastic and I was fairly certain as I left that I didn’t get it. I was shocked when I got the email that I had – and she’s been nothing but welcoming and sweet to me since I started. Like I said, there’s just that little bit of paranoia.
I of course can make another, more satisfactory Jing using the tips that she gave me, but I want to express to her that I wasn’t looking at it in a critiquing manner, but instead was just trying to keep everything positive. I don’t really know how to do that without coming across as the unconfident, shaky chihuahua I’ve just depicted myself as.
It’s always very scary coming into a new job, no matter how qualified you might believe you are. Once you’re doing it you find yourself second guessing everything you thought you knew.