How the SEJ supported me as a personal tutor

Today I would like to share with you why I paid for my own training in the SEJ as part of my role as a tutor.
At the beginning I embarked on the practice of the SEJ to deal with my own life situations and circumstances
mainly to do with my relationships not just with family or work colleagues but also with students. This is
because I am also a personal tutor to about 35 students and a course leader amongst my role as an
educator. The role of tutor is primarily to help students throughout their course with academic and general
support. Within the educational setting I work at, we have access to resources to reference in our role as
tutors should we need them.
Usually, we have group tutoring sessions with specific themes such as starting a new academic year,
preparing for examinations, and reflecting on their performance. Students can make an appointment to see
their tutor individually if they wish to discuss any other matters that concern them. I would ask what their
issues may be and offer guidance and referrals if needed. It was during these sessions that I realised how
much I tell them what they should do, generally giving them advice that I felt they needed. I also realised
that I have no training to be an effective and ‘appropriate’ tutor; I was more preoccupied about telling them
what I imagined to be of use based on my own academic and life experiences, which at the time I felt was
enough but limited in the scope and relevance.
Over the years I have met many wonderful students from different background and circumstances and some
with challenging personal situations. In some serious cases, I had no idea how to support them. Often, I was
more concerned about my ability to fix their issues busy in my head working them out. I realised there was
something missing in my connection to these amazing people, I wanted to support them in a way that was
meaningful to them. But how would I do that? I knew what to say but I had little idea about how to support
them.
So, I paid for my own training to be a practitioner of the SEJ, paid for the CPD courses myself because I saw
the value of the SEJ not just for me personally but in the ways that I can truly support the students not just in
tutor sessions but as an educator in the everyday encounters be it in formal classes or informal chats in
corridors or canteens. I wanted to enable the students to find their own voices and their own solutions
during the tutor sessions instead of me telling them what or how to do that. It would be far more
empowering and long lasting and more relevant rather than my limited perspective based on my
experiences.
The application of the SEJ has enabled me to be an honest, sincere and authentic tutor, given me
opportunity to truly understand how to be a personal tutor. Personal to each one of them as individuals, not
the off the shelf generic responses I used to give. It has allowed me to be humble, open and compassionate
without judgements or prejudices in supporting each individual student with what is best for them, seeing
and hearing from their perspective not my own. It has enabled me to respond to their individual needs
instead of reacting to the situation they are encountering. I am able to say at times that I don’t know what is
best but we can work together to enable them to achieve their goal. Studying the SEJ has allowed me to be a
truly student-centred tutor. It has given me the tool to walk beside them instead of leading them. Being their
tutor is a real privilege and a gift and I am grateful to the SEJ for showing me how to do that.
Dr M Howard-Kishi

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