Writing and Speaking Center Hiring New Peer Tutors

By: Charlotte Mayer

Fall 2021 Peer Tutor Applications are now open for SMCM’s Writing and Speaking Center. The center is a place where “writers and speakers come together to talk about the craft of communication,” according to the SMCM website. It is located on the first floor of the library overlooking St. John’s Pond, and is now accepting walk-ins as well as appointments–either in-person or via Zoom.

To be a peer tutor, students must complete a two-credit training course in the spring before beginning work in fall 2022. Tutors “staff regular tutoring hours and help other students with writing assignments and presentations,” says SMCM’s website. The position also features “flexible hours, great work experience” and “perks” such as “private study room access, optional activity nights, snack and beverage station use” and more. 

Applications are due Friday, Oct. 29, at 5:00 p.m. After the application window closes, selected applicants will be contacted for interviews. These interviews will likely take place during early November, according to the center’s recruitment website. They plan to hire as many as four new tutors. 

According to the SMCM website, if you have “something to write or present and you haven’t started yet, a peer tutor can help you brainstorm, plan, and begin” and “if you’ve already started, a tutor can look over your draft and coach you through the revision process.”

Laik Meadows, a sophomore at SMCM, said “I’ve only had meetings with them via Zoom last year. They were all for the most part really warm and inviting and super flexible. They always helped with the coherency of my papers.” 

Another SMCM student who would prefer to remain anonymous said “I find that it’s minor help at best — you can receive much of the same feedback from a friend in 30 minutes or less.”

“While the peer tutors love to help other students with their assignments,” says SMCM’s website, “their help does have some limitations.” For example, they cannot “assist with course content or study skills” says a handout linked on the SMCM website. They also cannot “create an outline, proofread, or complete other steps for a student.” Decisions surrounding the assignment must be made by the student.

In addition to writing tutorials, the center “offers tutoring and other services related to oral expression.” Speaking and writing “have very similar processes,” according to SMCM’s website, “so the tutoring for speaking is very similar to the tutoring for writing.”

Angelie Roche, a peer tutor and sophomore at SMCM said: “Of my three on-campus jobs, working at the Writing Center is by far my favorite! I love all my fellow tutors and the Writing Center staff, and there are lots of perks such as flexible hours and free snacks!” It is their first semester as a peer tutor. 

“To someone applying, I’d say you have to be serious and dedicated about writing and helping others,” said Angelie. “You can be in any major but be prepared to take a semester-long training course and really dive deep into writing! But by the end, even if you don’t decide to be a tutor, you’ll have learned valuable writing skills that will last a lifetime.”

Dr. Ben Click, Director of the Writing and Speaking Center, said “The center looks for students who are strong writers themselves, but equally (and perhaps more important) these students should have the appropriate demeanor. They should be kind, have good listening skills, and be willing to help their peers. They should be open to learning about how to help others with their writing.”

The training course required to become a peer tutor is “a two-credit practicum that teaches students both how to tutor writing and also provides writing instruction as well,” said Dr. Click. “Our tutors are all strong writers, but not all strong writers know why they write well.” This course “teaches them how to recognize the skills they possess that make them good writers. This is essential knowledge in working with other writers.” 

To people who are thinking of applying, Dr. Click says “Please make sure you are applying because you want to help others with their writing, not because you need the money or think the job will look good on your resume (both of those things are byproducts of being a peer tutor in writing who is hired in the center).” He adds that “students who are hired learn to become even stronger writers.”
You can learn more at smcm.edu/writingcenter/ or the peer tutor recruitment site. The application, a Google Form, is also linked there. Contact Assistant Director Mandy Taylor at apheatwole@smcm.edu with any questions.

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