University of Montana Western logo.
Apply Visit More Info

Learning Center Tutors Get Lost in Bozeman

March 15, 2017

Learning Center Coordinator Brenden Kennedy and several of his tutors traveled to Bozeman for the Rocky Mountain Writing Centers Association Tutor Conference


At this annual event, tutors from several states meet to share new ideas on how to most effectively work with students. This year, the conference was held at Montana State University.

Learning Center Coordinator Brenden Kennedy was most excited to hear Michelle Eodice speak. She is the co-author of “Everyday Writing Center” and a leader in her field.

“One of her ideas is that our work is about more than writing. It’s about creating a community of practice where people examine how they think and learn,” Kennedy said.

Eodice was the keynote speaker at the event. The theme of the conference, and her talk, was “getting lost.” “Her speech was about making tutoring a more democratic process and respecting the knowledge tutees bring to a session,” Kennedy said.

Montana Western tutor Colton Brunson said, “To me, it means getting lost with a student so no one is leading or following. You’re traveling toward a common goal together.”

Brunson also learned about the surprising connotations of certain words in regards to tutoring. “The word help can actually push some students away. It can make them feel inferior or like they’re struggling. We can further your knowledge. That might be better than talking about help.”

Natan Eury got the most out of a workshop on reflexivity, “It was about reflecting on the biases we bring into a session. We got into groups and were handed diagnostic worksheets describing different types of tutees. We had to explain how we would approach their particular situation and why. It was great to hear the various methods people took.”

Tutor Joanna Avery’s favorite panel was based on the work of psychologist Carol Dweck. It was about shifting students’ mindsets when it comes to learning. “When a student tells you they’re bad at math, they’re coming from a fixed mindset. We want to move them towards a growth mindset. I’m not the best at math yet, but I can improve.”

Kaylee Clemens was also in attendance. She saw the trip as a great opportunity to learn about her co-workers. “My favorite part was discussing all the panels and getting our different perspectives on the conference during the drive home.”

Kennedy was actually quite sick for the duration of the trip, but he never thought of cancelling. “I had been looking forward to this for a long time. I knew the tutors were excited to go. It was important to me they got a chance to meet other tutors.”

On his future plans for the Learning Center, Kennedy said, “At the conference, I got some great new ideas on training specific to the block schedule. I also got some good advice on campus outreach and accessibility. Overall, the trip was a great success.”