"Our first meeting together began with introductions, and I told the student a bit about myself and how I like to work with students. I found Elena to be a very receptive listener, willing to ask when she didn't understand something I said or wanted clarification. I told her that I welcomed her approach, and encouraged her to continue asking questions. We talked for a bit about the Socratic method, my preferred mode of teaching. I had her tell me about her expectations for our time together, making clear that my goal is to meet her needs as closely as possible, and to that end need for her to let me know what it is she needs from me. I asked her to tell me what she took to be her main strengths (positivity, zest for life, and a love of systems) and weaknesses (little practice in writing and indecisiveness), and determined that she would benefit in our work together from the use of verbal imagery.
We decided to spend our time that day on her response to a prompt from a university. I gave her the choice of who would read it aloud, and she asked me to read. After I finished reading, I asked her to tell me what her initial reaction was. She said that "some things [were] random" and when I asked her to elaborate, she described an issue I had wanted for us to address first. She realized that her essay seemed to have two different theses, and so we discussed how best to choose which one to use, or whether to combine the two. The student demonstrated commendable perspicuity in describing how and why she made her decision. I then directed her toward the conclusion of her essay, and suggested that she continue to ask herself, "What is my point?" as she reshaped the essay in light of what she had determined to be its focus in the introduction. We continued addressing "global" issues, moving from the introduction, which I reminded her to not stress over until the end of the writing process, to her body paragraphs. We were able to set down the purpose that each paragraph would serve, narrowing the focus of the essay to primarily the thesis, but also allowing the flow of the writing to carry the essay to touch upon the second thesis she had chosen to downplay.
The final part of our time was spent addressing "local" issues. I asked her to tell me about some patterns that she has noticed in her own writing, and was very pleased to hear her describe the troubling fluffiness that filled her essays. We discussed ways of pinpointing "fluffiness," and I encouraged her to examine the motives driving her need to fill space. I asked her to begin her second draft by restructuring her essay, and to then remove all adjectives, replace passive sentences with more active language, and vary her sentence length. We discussed the reasons behind these revisions until I had the sense that she grasped the value in the changes.
It is clear to me that this student is remarkably self-aware and learns quickly. I hope that we might work together on strengthening her sense of assertiveness in making decisions, because I am certain that she has the capacity for discernment and has no reason to be framing so many of her statements as questions. I very much enjoy working with her and hope to continue doing so."