by Brandi Willis Schreiber
What do we learn when we travel to new places? Recently, a few of us were fortunate to learn more than we expected about ourselves, our profession, and another city when we traveled to Nashville, Tennessee March 22 – 26 for the annual Association for the Tutoring Professional (ATP) Conference.
Academic Counselors, Jac Cooper and Jacob Fisher, and Master Tutor, Rachel Traxler, and I all traveled together to present at this conference. ATP’s goal is to provide knowledge and support to tutors and tutor trainers who work at the K-12 and higher education levels. Because we extensively work with and train tutors at the TECHniques Center, we felt that this would be a great conference to attend to gain new ideas and share our best practices.
Jac, Jacob, and Rachel presented a fantastic session called “The Masters.” This session focused on our Master Tutor program, its development, its goals, and how it has positively impacted our work here in the TECHniques Center. This session was so full of information that they could have easily talked for two hours, and many attendees had great questions about how they could start a similar program at their institutions! We were lucky to have Rachel Traxler, fellow Master Tutor and Tech graduate student, attend this conference through the University Professional Internship Program, which provided funding for her travels with us through the Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement. This was Rachel’s first professional conference, and she did a wonderful job talking about her role and engaging the audience.
I presented two sessions: “An Interactive Approach for Developing Empathy for Students with Learning Disabilities and ADHD” and “Tutoring Strategies for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder: A Case by Case Approach.” My first session focused on how we help new tutors develop empathy for our students’ challenges through disability simulations we give at tutor training. The second session focused on tutoring strategies I have found important to utilize with students on the Autism Spectrum. It was a great experience to share the knowledge that I have gained working at the TECHniques Center with such open and interested audiences. It’s easy to forget in my day-to-day work, which so often focuses on student development and problem solving, that I have acquired some truly valuable insight about tutor training and unique student challenges that other professionals don’t have access to. I felt very humbled and honored to get to share my own experiences with these professionals, as we are all working to make learning better for students.
In addition to our presentations, we came back with some great information about how other institutions manage, train, and support their tutors. The way that we engage and support our tutors is truly unique, and I can confidently say that I believe we have one of the best tutor training and support models around!
A conference trip wouldn’t be complete without eating good food and exploring parts of the city. Although our visit was short, we packed as much food, fun, and conversation we could into our brief breaks. Nashville is a very cool city, and we enjoyed eating at some of the best restaurants (Arnold’s Country Kitchen, City House, and The Pharmacy) and coffee places (Barista Parlor and Fido) around. Nashville is a fusion of sound, as well as taste and cultures, and we thoroughly enjoyed these excursions. Jac, Jacob, and I even got to tour the grounds of the Belle Meade Plantation, one of the oldest preserved plantations in the United States. I love taking photos, so this trip gave me lots of opportunities to find beautiful and interesting perspectives of this gorgeous area!
We are extremely grateful for the opportunity to attend conferences to advance our profession and work in the TECHniques Center. We also look forward to attending more conferences in the coming year!