As a tutor in the writing center you will, at one point or another, encounter a paper with commentary already on it. Sometimes there will be great amounts of commentary covering many different types of errors. Sometimes there will be next to no commentary. The commentary may be anywhere from very directive to very facilitative. As a tutor, how do you handle the commentary already on the paper?
In their book The Practical Tutor Emily Meyer and Louise Z. Smith offer wonderful advice on how to handle present commentary:
Meyer and Smith give three strategies for dealing
with commentary already present. First, rephrase harsh commentary into neutral
questions during the conference. Do not judge the student or complain about
the professor. Second, mention that it can be valuable to look at past comments
from a professor before writing another paper for that professor. Past commentary
can give the student an idea of what the professor is looking for and what
errors are unacceptable to that professor. The third and most important
piece of advice Meyer and Smith offer a tutor is that as a tutor "you
can encourage writers in all of the above situations to consult their teachers
as a first step" (139).