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We Were Making Community: Hume’s 2024 Tutoring Symposium

Tutors attend the 2024 Hume Tutoring Symposium
Tutors gather for the 2024 Hume Tutoring Symposium

On February 23, 2024, Stanford’s Hume Center for Writing and Speaking inaugurated a new  symposium for-and-by the center’s tutors. 

Rev. Dr. Zandra Jordan

The 2024 theme was "Writing Lives, Writing Futures.” Through collaborative and dialogic interactions spanning cultural, linguistic, and ideological boundaries, tutoring becomes a dynamic process of co-creation. Introducing the symposium, Reverend Dr. Jordan, Director of Hume, said, “It speaks to the ways that writing creates identifies and writing tutoring co-constructs futures.” 

Symposium sessions–which took place concurrently throughout the morning–were created, organized, and led by undergraduate and graduate tutors, and provided valuable insights and practical strategies for enhancing writing tutoring practices and fostering inclusive learning environments. Big shout out to Hume director Reverend Dr. Zandra Jordan and Associate Director Dr. Tesla Schaeffer as well as the many Hume student tutors for putting together these fabulous sessions highlighting the role of tutoring in shaping writing craft, writing futures, and writerly identities and experiences.

Dr. Mark Gardiner and Associate Hume director Dr. Tesla Schaeffer

 The feeling of community was palpable–many  PWR lecturers were in attendance, as well as staff, lecturers, and tutors from other departments and programs that collaborate with Hume, and current student tutors–a testimony to how the Hume Center has developed into a key campus entity that fosters both rigorous craft as well as bonding around writing and speaking.

The four panels and panelists are listed below.

  1. Isabel Salovaara, Khushmita Dhabhai, and Diya Sabharwal facilitated a session on "Effective and Ethical Approaches in Generative Writing Assistance," exploring the integration of AI tools like ChatGPT into tutoring practices.
  2. Sam Ogunsanya, Carlene Sanchez, and Merissa Rieken led a session on "Rethinking Boundaries in Tutoring," emphasizing the importance of healthy boundary setting through dialogic self-reflection.
  3. Jayne Abraham and Adin Walker addressed the topic of "Approaching Triggers in Tutoring," highlighting strategies for managing unexpected emotions during tutoring sessions.
  4. Ellie Alexander, Briana Garcia, and Phoebus Cotsapas tackled "Multilingualism and the Myth of Standard English in Tutoring," discussing the significance of linguistic diversity and justice in academic settings.

With topics that touched on a range from tutoring pedagogy to the use of generative AI, the event created space for ample opportunity for productive conversations between PWR lecturers, undergraduate and graduate tutors, and even with colleagues from across campus (such as the Stanford Language Center) who attended.  Hayden Kantor, one of the PWR lecturers in attendance, noted how valuable it is to have opportunities like this to "connect and learn from each other." Likewise, PWR lecturer Raechel Lee was also impressed by how well the scope of the conference was managed - that it was designed to provide a well-curated depth and breadth of events and topics "so one could enjoy all the fun parts of a conference (learning and connecting with people) without the overwhelm." 

Dr. Hayden Kantor and Dr. Raechel Lee

In the final session, Director Zandra Jordan honored each of the undergraduate and graduate tutors who participated -- whether they had led a session or contributed by offering feedback and ideas during the planning stages. As Hayden observed, "It was sweet to see how the Hume team fosters community."

PWR Lecturer Harriett Jernigan had this to say about how the event drew the Hume tutoring community together: "I appreciated the opportunity to sit in the same room with colleagues and student / peer tutors, whom we see regularly in Hume, but don't get a chance to interact with. It was great to hear their experiences and learn from them. They did an excellent job running the sessions and moderating activities and conversations. I hadn't really thought of the Hume peer tutors as a 'unit' or a collective before. But they clearly are a well-trained, cohesive, delightful community that has been created and curated with care."

Unsurprisingly this event-one that put a well-deserved spotlight on the work of the graduate and undergraduate tutors-was a meaningful one for them as well. Hume Associate Director Tesla Schaeffer reported that, in the weeks since the conference, "tutors have told us that the event was a special experience for them. They hadn’t realized how much they shared with lecturers in terms of tutoring experiences, questions that come up, issues they think about— it really brought Stanford’s writing tutoring community together!"  As a final thought, Tesla, who is coming up on her final quarter as Hume Associate Director, shared, "It was also a true highlight for me, of my time as AD." 

Tesla is hardly alone in her enthusiasm for the experience. All of us who attended were excited to be part of the inaugural audience of what is slated to become an annual tradition–a symposium centered around scholarly exchanges around tutoring, a vital and often understudied part of writing, speaking, teaching, and learning.  We're looking forward to these future opportunities for conversations, community, and celebration.

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