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Apply to be a Tutor!

 Want to become a trained tutor at the Writing Center?
Email us your resume and two writing samples (analysis, argument and research pieces encouraged) to jennifer.albanese@stonybrook.edu.

 

What You Need to Know Before Applying

When are new tutors hired to work at the Writing Center?

New tutors begin working in the fall semester (so they can take our WRT 306 training course the semester they begin working). We reach out to several outlets on campus in March and begin collecting materials and scheduling interviews in  April , to ensure students hired to work at the Writing Center have room in their schedules for the training course. We do also hire "interns" to begin in the Spring semesters. These students take WRT 488 in place of WRT 306, but work for credit (not pay) their first semester. Typically, students who begin as interns are hired as paid employees the following term.

What is the Writing Center?

The Writing Center is a tutorial space on campus that is designed to help students with writing assignments. It is important to note that “help” does not mean “edit” or “proofread” papers, but it means working alongside students, asking questions and supporting the decision-making process that leads to good writing. It is the tutor’s job to insert themselves into the writing process and redirect students to improve their understanding of strong writing. We’re trying to create “better writers,” not “better writing.”

Who uses the Writing Center?

The Writing Center is open to all students at SBU and the surrounding community. Working as a tutor, you will see a wide range of students, from first-year-writing to upper division science and humanities students, to seniors applying for scholarships and graduate school. We also work with graduate students who are seeking support with their writing. In other words, the Writing Center is not about poor or basic writers seeking to address a deficiency in their writing, it’s about a community of writers who recognize that workshopping their piece with outside readers is part of any strong writing process. 

What is our current staff?

We typically have between 25 and 30 tutors at the Writing Center. Only about 10% of the tutors are graduate students, which means the bulk of our staff are undergraduates. 

Who are the tutors?

Many people assume that our tutors are English students; that is not accurate. While in high school writing is taught through English departments, at SBU we want students to recognize that academic writing is part of ALL disciplines. Many years ago, our writing courses were separated from the English department and are housed in a separate Program in Writing and Rhetoric that is designed to emphasize the importance of writing in all subjects. Our tutors, for that reason, are often Writing Minors or students across campus who have strong writing skills and want to gather credentials for teaching writing. You can click on the bios to learn more about our existing staff. Graduate students who work at the writing center are all currently from the English MA or PhD program. This is largely because we don’t offer a training course for graduate tutors (comparable to WRT 306) but students in these English graduate programs receive training in writing pedagogy through their coursework.

How many hours do tutors work?

Tutors begin by working 4 hours per week at the Writing Center. Once hired, tutors receive pay their first semester (as they take WRT 306) and are paid for both observation hours (before they tutor) and their tutoring hours. Tutors begin observing a few weeks into the semester and begin working with their own clients roughly  5 weeks into the semester. Tutors earn minimum wage, which is currently $15/hour and report hours on SOLAR each week. After their first semester, tutors are permitted to work additional hours, but most tutors work between 5 and 7 hours per week. The only exception to this is the Assistant Director, who works 10-12 hours per week. This is a leadership position which involves mentoring new tutors and managing the email and client reports associated with daily operation of the center.

How do students make appointments at the Writing Center?

If you haven’t used the Writing Center or seen our website, you can click here to get a sense of the process. Students create an account with our scheduling software (WC Online) and can access the full schedule of available tutors and appointments online. We’re currently open from 11am-6pm on Monday-Thursday and 11am-3pm on Friday. During an average week we have roughly 120 appointments. Early in the semester all of our appointments are scheduled (students must make appointments online) but typically around mid-semester we assign “walk-in” tutors to help manage student demand. The Writing Center offers online appointments and after their first semester of face-to-face tutoring, tutors are expected to manage appointments that are face-to-face or online.

What does a tutoring appointment look like?

Our Writing Center is a space with five large round tables and a row of computers along the front wall. In a typical tutoring session (face-to-face), a student sits down with a tutor and they read through the writing together. The tutor’s job is to listen and note “global” problems with the writing that suggest the student needs more help understanding the assignment, presenting a thesis, organizing their thoughts, communicating their ideas, etc. Our training course is designed to help tutors manage the social interaction with students, recognize these global errors, and practice strategies for helping students address these issues in their writing using best practices in writing pedagogy. 

What happens in the WRT 306 class?

New tutors who are hired must be available to take WRT 306 which runs during the fall semester. This is a course populated only by tutors and students cannot register themselves for this class. Once hired, the PWR Staff Assistant, Adam Schultheiss will add students to the class. Since there is no competition for the class, often new tutors elect to add the course when the registration limits are lifted the first week of the semester. This course is held in the PWR conference room and in the class we read and discuss mostly peer reviewed articles on issues in tutoring and teaching writing. Writing pedagogy is its own discipline (teaching writing is different from teaching other subjects) and our goal is to encourage tutors to use some of these best practices in their appointments. We also discuss working with certain populations of students (multilingual students, disciplinary writing, etc.) to ensure that tutors are being thoughtful about the choices they make. In WRT 306, students write response papers and participate in class discussion actively. There are also a few short, informal reflection and observation papers and the final paper is a methodology for tutoring, where students are asked to articulate their own method for tutoring by focusing on concepts and strategies discussed in the course readings. This course is not meant to teach new tutors one way of tutoring, but to help tutors discover their own best method . Many of our readings offer conflicting advice to emphasize the controversy associated with some of these issues. WRT 306 does count toward the Writing Minor.

Do tutors perform other roles (aside from tutoring)?

Tutoring sessions are only 45 minutes, but tutors are asked to create a “client report” at the end of each session detailing what happened during the tutorial. Ideally, tutors complete these reports online after the appointment in the remaining 15 minutes of the hour. Tutors (after their first semester) are also assigned to “desk hours,” when they manage students coming into the Writing Center or answer the phone (rarely). 

What other opportunities does the Writing Center offer?

Even though there is a faculty Director of the Writing Center, this is a peer tutoring center and it’s the community of tutors that define our Writing Center. We encourage tutors to take initiative and use their own skills to create outreach opportunities to improve our tutoring center. For example, in the past we’ve had a student from the College of Business who paired with faculty in his department to create group tutoring sessions for students in a Project Management course. We’ve had tutors work with the School of Nursing, athletics and with the University Library to create special evenings for writing support at the end of the semester. We encourage tutors to create their own leadership roles in the Writing Center and use their own connections with faculty in their own departments or programs to support writing in their own disciplines.