A few weeks ago, I had the privilege of traveling to Nashville with some of the TECHniques staff to attend ATP’s national annual conference. I had a great time traveling with Brandi, Jac, and Jacob. We made friends with a flight attendant, saw the Parthenon (an exact replica exists at Vanderbilt…who knew!), ate amazing food, held the door open for a bandsman of Death Cab for Cutie (I’m hopeful about Jacob’s abilities to recognize faces), and drank entirely too much coffee. We also presented at the conference and attended various sessions designed to further develop the skills of tutoring professionals.
The four of us attended a session called “Collaborative Learning Practices in Working with Underrepresented Students.” Though relating more to group tutoring and inclusion of minority students, key concepts discussed were absolutely applicable to our center and it’s students and tutors. This session discussed the nature of stereotypes that detrimentally impact a student’s self-concept. The presenter discussed how stereotypes are crippling to learning and performance. For example, if a student thinks “I can’t do this because _____”, they are more likely to behave in such a way that promotes the expected outcome.
Those at the TECHniques Center are capable, intelligent, and absolutely have the resources to succeed. We help our student’s master academic material, but also assist with study skills, organization, and professional development. While it is important for our tutors to be strong regarding academic content, part of what makes the TC so great is that we have the ability to help build up our students by being knowledgeable about their strengths, while dissolving inaccurate and unproductive stereotypes that they may have developed about themselves. Ultimately, how our students view themselves is important. We have the opportunity to see if negative self-stereotypes arise and intervene with positive, realistic, and productive affirmation.
To quote Arthur Doyle:
“My dear Watson,” said [Sherlock Holmes], “I cannot agree with those who rank modesty among the virtues. To the logician all things should be seen exactly as they are, and to underestimate one’s self is as much a departure from truth as to exaggerate one’s own powers.”