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Behind the Screen: Talking with Writing Tutor, Farren Washington

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A core aspect of a rewarding educational experience is the opportunity to receive individualized support with a knowledgeable expert. Teachers are excellent facilitators of classroom instruction, but having an additional subject expert available to provide one on one support can make all the difference in a student’s learning experience. That’s why TutorMe connects each student with a single tutor for every tutoring session.

However, this service would be nothing if not for the talented individuals who are part of TutorMe’s tutoring community. Each tutor brings their own unique background and experiences in their field, allowing students the opportunity to engage and learn with a variety of experts. To learn about these individuals more, we created the Behind the Screen series – a series dedicated to learning more about our tutors and their valuable insights into their work.

In our last feature, we met with library science tutor, Marj Atkinson, about her background and her journey with TutorMe. For this feature, we are excited to introduce writing tutor, Farren Washington!

During this interview, Farren discusses her passion for writing and guiding others through the writing process. She also discusses how she utilizes different strategies to keep her students engaged and why her expertise as a writer is a great asset to helping her students succeed.

Where Did You Go to College? And What Did You Study?

I earned my undergraduate degree in English at Roosevelt University, and I obtained my Master's degree in Writing and Publishing at Apollos University.

Why Did You Decide to Become a Tutor?

I genuinely enjoy helping people. It's very rewarding to get the chance to help out a student with a paper, or prepare for a test, or just help them to learn more effective study skills. I enjoy getting the chance to see the student succeed firsthand.

Another reason I got into tutoring was because I wanted to break out of my shell. I'm not the most outgoing person, so I wanted to push myself outside of my comfort zone and see if I can succeed at it.

What Do You Enjoy Most About Your TutorMe Experience?

TutorMe is a highly-rated company with a very good reputation. Also, TutorMe gives me flexibility in terms of how I can support students. I find that liberty to be very appealing.

What Are Two of Your Most Valuable Tutoring Skills?

My strong suit is the insightful feedback I can give on essays and papers. I'm a writer by trade. That's what I went to school for, and that's what I excel at most, so my written feedback is very detailed. I try to give very specific and detailed feedback that helps guide students to blossom into confident writers.

What Is Your Usual Approach When You Tutor?

I try to have a set plan, if possible, but sometimes I just have to go with the flow. There's always going to be the possibility that something will go differently than anticipated. I generally take a “student-first” approach to tutoring where I follow the student’s lead and provide support based on their needs.

How Do You Make New Students Feel Comfortable?

Whether I'm doing a session through a chat box or audio/video chat, I make an effort to tailor each session to the individual student. I ask them straight up, "What do you want to do?" Sometimes, I'll ask, "Is this something that you're comfortable with?"

I also find it helpful to provide compliments. When I see that a student is grasping a particular concept, I try to acknowledge that with specific praise.

Can You Share a Transformative Moment that Influenced Your Tutoring Career?

This happened way at the beginning of my tutoring career. My very first position was as a graduate teaching assistant for an Introductory English Composition course at a college. Initially, I thought the pressure and challenges were intimidating. I did the best that I could, and I always tried to come prepared prior to the day of my presentations. The fact that I was able to do that at all, given my tendency to be shy in front of other people, was definitely a huge accomplishment for me! It made me feel that if I can do that, I can do anything! This confidence helped me become a successful tutor on TutorMe.

What Has Been a Particular Challenge that You Experienced as a Tutor?

Each student comes to the lessons with their own particular challenges that you will need to be flexible with. With that said, I enjoy taking on opportunities that help me grow as a tutor. I don’t like feeling like I’m stagnating in my career!

What Are Your Strategies for Motivating Students and Keeping Them Engaged During Sessions?

My tutoring philosophy is that learning should be fun. If a student is engaged and having fun, they'll be more likely to grasp the material. I try to think outside of the box and tailor my lesson plan to the individual student's learning style and personality.

Recently, I tutored an adult learner who was studying to get her driver's permit. I set up a couple of different fun exercises, and I think that she really got a lot out of them. One time, I created a crossword puzzle with all the clues related to the material from the driver's manual. During another session I created a full-blown Jeopardy! game.

Describe a Powerful Learning Experience You Have Shared with a Student.

I can tutor undergraduate students, high school students, and middle school students, but my specialty is adult learners. One adult learner I worked with on TutorMe was working on an art history research paper. I worked with her over the course of a month. I helped her understand the importance of structure when it comes to writing a good paper. I taught her that a lot of work goes into a new piece of writing, including research and multiple drafts. It's a long process. I found it very rewarding to help this student succeed as she worked through the details of her research paper.

What Advice Would You Give to a Tutor Who Is Just Getting Started?

In order to go into this particular field, you need a lot of patience. You also need compassion because there's no way you can be a tutor without being a compassionate person. Patience and compassion go hand-in-hand.

Our tutoring community is the heart of our mission to provide individualized learning support for every student. Farren’s story highlights the expertise and dedication of our tutoring community in providing that individualized experience.

We will be continuing our Behind the Screens series in the weeks to come, so keep an eye out for more posts. In the meantime, learn more about partnering with TutorMe to empower your students with one-on-one academic support that fosters deeper learning through face-to-face collaboration.

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