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WriteCast Episode 54: Meet Your Reviewer: Tasha Sookochoff

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© Walden University Writing Center 2018

 

[Introduction music]

 

CLAIRE: Welcome to Write Cast: A Casual Conversation for Serious Writers, a monthly podcast by the Walden University Writing Center. I’m Claire Helakoski,

 

KACY: and I’m Kacy Walz. 

 

KACY: Today we’re talking with Writing Center Writing Instructor Tasha Sookochoff in our latest Meet Your Reviewer episode.

 

CLAIRE: If you’re a Walden student who’s had a paper review with Tasha, or if you’re considering using our paper review service, you’ll learn a little bit more about Tasha and her review approach today. Even if you’re not a Walden student, you can keep listening to hear about Tasha’s best advice for student writers. 

 

KACY: Hi Tasha, thank you so much for joining us today!

 

TASHA: Hi, Kacy, thank you!

 

KACY: Could you tell us a little bit about yourself? How long you’ve worked at Walden? Your academic background? Where you’re located? Things like that?

 

TASHA: Sure! I’ve been at Walden for about ten months, since September. I have a bachelor’s degree in technical communication from the University of Wisconsin, Stout, and I have a Master’s in writing, rhetoric, and discourse, with an emphasis on teaching writing, and a TESOL certificate from DePaul University. Right now I’m in Dubuque, Iowa, but I just moved here from Chicago, where I was for the last eight years.

 

CLAIRE: Thanks again for being here, Tasha. So now that we know a little bit more about you, let’s talk a little bit about your approach in your work as a Writing Instructor. Is there any type of assignment or particular type of paper that you enjoy working on?

 

TASHA: I really enjoy reading student’s personal reflections. a lot of times when they start their program, they write about their personal goals, their professional goals. In terms of, topics, I really enjoy reading papers on psychology and counselling. So I always look forward to those types of papers. But overall I like everything. I think there’s always something interesting in everyone’s work.

 

CLAIRE: Definitely, I agree. I learn so much from my paper reviews, about topics that I didn’t study and I think that’s you know, kind of the case for most of us Writing Instructors. Because our backgrounds are in like English and writing, rather than the subjects that most Walden students are studying.

 

TASHA: That’s definitely true. Most of my best friends are nurses, and I have learned so much more about their jobs since so many of our students are also studying nursing. so I really appreciate the work that they do, and reading more about their work.

 

KACY: That’s awesome. Yeah, and I totally agree about reading personal statements, too. It’s always very inspiring, what our students are working on and their goals and how they’re planning to set those goals. could you tell us a little bit, Tasha, about your review style? or how you approach a paper?

 

TASHA: I like to start off by reviewing the paper for high level…well we call high level revisions things like thesis development, organization, argument, kind of seeing that the assignment meets the requirements. And then in terms of the overall tone of the paper, I like to be really conversational with students and hopefully develop a relationship. I always enjoy when I can meet with students more than once. So, I like to set the tone right away that, you know, I’m friendly and I’m here to help.

 

KACY: That’s so important, what you’re talking about with tone. Especially since we are asynchronous, we miss out on those non-verbal cues like vocal tone, so I think that’s great that you’re already aware of that, or so aware of that.

 

TASHA: Thanks, Kacy, yeah, I like to motivate students. I like to identify for a student, maybe, a revision a couple times, and then encourage them to correct it on their own after seeing some examples. So, I like it to feel like a partnership rather than some type of more formal teaching moment.

 

CLAIRE: Definitely. I think that’s so important, too, because, Walden students are, a lot of them are pursuing their doctoral degrees and it’s really important to kind of be able to do some of those revisions on your own and keep like working on that skill building.

 

TASHA: Absolutely. I think back to some of the tutors I worked with when I was a writing students, and some of my professors, and I always felt really encouraged when they helped me see a problem and identify it, but then kind of give me the boost to work on that on my own and give me the skills to be able to identify things like the, you know where my thesis might need work, or grammatical changes and proofreading, things like that.

 

CLAIRE: Yeah. Speaking of other tutors and writing experiences that you’ve had…what is a good piece or the best piece of writing advice that you’ve received from one of those tutors or teachers?

 

TASHA: My freshman year of undergrad, I had a professor who said to me that, you’re like, you’re a really good writer, this is something you should consider pursuing, but one piece of advice that I have for you is, to always ask at the end of your paper, “why should I care?” So if you’re the reader or the audience member, ask why should I care? And if you can’t answer that, then you haven’t answered the question in your paper. you need to consider developing your thesis statement more, providing the reason, or the purpose for your paper, or the argument. So, I’ve taken that with me. I apply that to my own writing after I write something, I try to adopt that perspective of the reader and say, why should I care? If I don’t care, then clearly I’m missing something. And I like to raise that too, at the end of student papers. I ask them the same question.

 

KACY: That’s so important to think about and I think sometimes it can seem harsh, right? Like, you’re asking, well why do I care about this thing that you’ve put lots of effort into, but we can forget that our readers aren’t in our heads. And so, we might completely understand what we’re trying to say, but they might be confused along the way or might need a little bit of extra elaboration. 

 

TASHA: Yeah, it could come off as harsh, and I think another way of thinking about it too is, what does this mean to me, personally, if you’re the reader or the audience. But, from the perspective of it being a persuasive argument, if the reader can identify with what you’re saying or can be persuaded by your research, then you’ve probably hit most of your targets for your paper.

 

KACY: I love that, that’s such a good way of thinking about it. So, Tasha, do you have any favorite resources at the Walden Writing Center?

 

TASHA: I love our blog. I link to out our blog quite a bit. we have a couple articles, one on transitioning with, I think the title is “Transitioning with Words, sentences and paragraphs.” I love our post on MEAL plan…so I think our blog has a lot of really interesting material. But from very friendly tone that makes it easy to understand a lot of very complicated academic writing rules and grammatical rules.

 

CLAIRE: Yeah, I love our blog, too. And, I also write blog posts for it, so I think a lot of us use it often, it’s nice to kind of address a specific thing that you’re trying to learn about in a little bit more fun or casual kind of situation. Our blog web address is waldenwritingcenter.blogspot.com. That’s where you can find us, and we’ll have some links in our show notes at the end as well. I’m curious, based on your discussion, Tasha, if there’s a particular paper or assignment that comes to mind that’s been one of the most interesting papers that you’ve reviewed at Walden?

 

TASHA: Yeah, um, I’ve been working for the last two months I think, with a doctoral student working on their prospectus. And it’s a paper on criminal justice and it’s not a topic I’m familiar with, so I’ve learned a lot. But I’ve also really enjoyed reading and watching this student progress through their appointments. and developing a relationship with that student. and so, I look forward to that in all of my appointments, and I really value seeing students writing progress.

 

CLAIRE: I really love the opportunities that we get to work on longer projects with students over time, too. it’s really neat to watch them progress with these bigger projects. but also, you know, just from paper to paper, so students, if you’re listening, and you don’t have a larger project, that’s fine too. that continuity can still be really nice and beneficial I think,

 

TASHA: Yeah, I agree Claire, cause you get some of the longer projects and you work on those, but then you get to those who just want one or two reviews on their papers, and that kind of helps sort of shake up your day, right? And you get to look forward to something new every day.

 

KACY: Definitely. And I think that also speaks to working with multiple reviewers as well. You guys are giving some great arguments or comments about the benefits of working with the same instructor multiple times, and I think what you’re also talking about is getting those, like, fresh eyes, or our eyes getting a new paper and how that can kind of open up our eyes to something else…I just said eyes like 20 times, I’m sorry…but I think that’s a great point to make about the different ways that we can approach writing appointments. So I have one bonus question for you, Tasha…

 

TAHSA: Sure.

 

KACY: Is there anything else you want to say to our student listeners?

 

TASHA: I would say that I am really happy to be here at Walden and to be working with our students. Something that’s different from the other places that I’ve tutored and taught is our students have such a broad range of knowledge on their topics and they get to work with the mission of, you know, social change in their research. And I think that is so important, but also really interesting. And motivating and inspiring. So I’m looking forward to reading more from our students and helping them navigate academic writing.

 

CLAIRE: Thanks so much for today, Tasha, and for sharing a little bit more about your process.

 

TASHA: Thanks for having me, guys, this was fun.

 

KACY: Yeah thank you so much, Tasha, this was super interesting and it was great to hear more about your style. We’ll link to the blog and the particular posts that Tasha recommended in our episode show notes. Consider making an appointment with Tasha if you haven’t already. And you can also check out some other instructors, including my own first interview, when I started at Walden. You can access those in our podcast archives.

 

CLAIRE: Until next time…keep writing

 

KACY: Keep inspiring!

 

[MUSIC]

 

KACY: WriteCast is a monthly podcast produced by the Walden University Writing Center. Visit our online Writing Center at academicguides.waldenu.edu/writingcenter. find more WriteCast episodes on iTunes, Stitcher, TuneIn or your favorite podcast app. We would love to hear from you. Connect with us on our blog, Facebook and Twitter, and at writingsupport@waldenu.edu. Thanks for listening!

 

[BLOOPER REEL]

 

KACY: Did I get that completely wrong, Tasha? Suh-co-choff?

 

TASHA: Su-co-choff, yeah

 

KACY: Su-co-choff. Ok. Sorry. Ok.

 

TASHA: No, that’s ok!

 

KACY: Su-Co-Choff…and I’m Kacy Walz, today we’re talking with Writing Center Writing Instructor Tasha Suh-co—choff….oh my god! Guys! This is so bad! Tasha…

 

CLAIRE: Su-co-choff

 

TASHA: Su-co-choff

 

KACY: Su-co-choff

 

TASHA: There you go. Don’t look at it. It throws you if you look at it.

 

KACY: Su-co-choff…thank you! Suh-co-choff. Ok.