10 Thoughts to “ Empathy in the Writing Center”

  1. Michelle

    Thank you so much for this presentation! Empathy in the WC is so necessary. Writing can be extremely vulnerable, and it’s imperative tutors are cognizant of that. Loved hearing your suggested responses.

  2. Katelyn Hopkins

    This was an excellent presentation on how empathy should be integrated into the writing center! I loved the acronym as it is easy to remember. I also appreciate that you made it a point to discuss not only empathy from tutor to student but tutor to tutor and tutor to self as well. At my writing center, we are able to be in person (socially distant, of course), so it is nice to check up on each other. We also have a group me with all the tutors in it so we can talk, similar to your Microsoft Teams situation. Thank you for sharing your research!

  3. Irene Sipos

    Irene Sipos
    November 3, 2020 at 8:03 am
    Empathy is a critical component in the Writing Center. I appreciated your perspective on sharing our own vulnerability as writers and honoring the context of the writer as a person beyond the document at hand. The emotional labor of the student and the tutor is important to consider. I am happy to say that the Director of the Writing Center at SUNY Buffalo State, Dr. Herb, recognizes and supports a culture of empathy among colleagues and clients.

  4. Caitlyn

    This is such a needed presentation! I think we often consider ourselves as empathizers when it comes to our work in the Center. However, we can never stop working towards having more empathy, especially when working with tutees. As of right now, my center is mainly doing email sessions, so being able to empathize and show that through a screen is very important, and allows us to connect with our peers during a trying time. We have talked much about our work as a balancing act between motivation scaffolding and criticism; being honest, but being kind. This can be a blurry line to balance especially when you are typing comments into a chat box and not seeing the person on the other side of the paper. I often must remind myself to not only correct or make comments on what they could do better, but to also be kind and give them props where it is due. The safe space of the center does not only mean the physical setting, but the aura we put out when working with advisees near or far. I am thankful for this much needed reminder and presentation.

  5. What an important topic to discuss! Thank you for this thoughtful presentation and also some of the useful references you include about the emotional labor of being a tutor.

  6. Leigh Ryan

    Thanks so much for tackling this topic. I have long seen empathy as an important part of tutoring. Your explanations and suggestions are most helpful.

  7. Kaitlyn Zebell

    I really enjoyed this presentation! The writing process is fluid and complex, and sometimes writers just want to vent and be hear. It is good to have some idea on how to respond to emotional moments in a session because writers can bring in personal pieces, which can make them feel vulnerable, so to have some starting point on how to respond compassionately and appropriately would be helpful. Additionally, it is important to work at the writer’s pace, which can show them that you’re invested in their process and are patient. This is important because the advisor is being trusted with the writer’s writing piece.

  8. Erika Jackson

    I really enjoyed this presentation and I think you helped expand my definition of empathy. I think we’ve all had and can recognize sessions that are more emotionally fraught, but it was interesting thinking about the more common sessions that require analytical empathy. As advisors, we are definitely taught to think through our responses so they are, as you said, “honest… but also thoughtful.” Thinking about this as emotional labor, even sessions I hadn’t considered emotional at the time, resonated with me. I think we all try to be aware of the writer and balance helpful comments with constructive encouragement, and that can be an empathetic act. Thank you for sharing this!

  9. Femi Jegede

    This is a fascinating presentation, even though the idea of showing empathy might sound like a soft issue, it might be a single most important success factor affecting our work at the Writing center. The area of my work I have personally found most challenging are my sessions with students writing or learning English as a second language. A few of them show a lot of enthusiasm while some of these writers appear quite frustrated. You need empathy to relate with both groups as a writing coach. If I choose to approach some of these sessions simply the way I feel, it is obvious that the writers will not come out with the best they can get from such meetings. The more I show understanding, patience and commitment to go at their pace putting myself in their positions no matter how difficult it is for me, the better the experience of these students from their visit to the center. This issue is fundamental and cannot be overemphasized.

  10. Maria

    I love how you explain writing as an emotional act. I think that’s so important to remember because as advisors, our writers are entrusting us with their work. Their work could be personal and vulnerable. I love how you talk about this. This reminds me of how I conduct my email sessions. I am sure to thank the writing i my beginning note for sharing, as well in the end note. Mackiewicz and Thompson have also been a really good resource for me as well to think about praise.

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