Final blog post of the semester! We only have around two weeks until school is over for summer break, and the journey of tutoring has come to an end as well. This year’s tutoring experience was very much different from last year’s, mainly because I feel more comfortable and confident in tutoring other students and believe that I have a better understanding on how to be a good tutor. Although I did not get as many tutoring sessions as I had wished, every single session was meaningful and enriched with information I can take away to improve on myself. This year, as a tutor, I went out of my comfort zone and tried something new and more challenging: a paid tutor. Being a paid tutor required so much more responsibility and self-organization. It was something I had never done before. The whole process of planning lessons and carrying it out all on my own intimidated me greatly, however, I believe that the experience was what really helped me grow as a tutor, but generally as a person as well.
Overall, this long but short semester of Tutor Training has left me numerous valuable lessons and knowledge that will always act as an advantage for me if I decide to continue it later on in life. I enjoyed the course, meeting new students and revisiting all of the principles of tutoring. I will truly miss being in this course.
This week was another empty week without any tutoring lessons. The tutoring center had no students come in as usual, and I could not find any time to visit the first graders. It was a busy week of 1-hour-long sleeps and a great amount of assessments and projects due. Despite not having enough time to tutor the students, I still visited the classroom once in order to get a signature from Mrs. Munro. When I arrived at the classroom, the students were seated on the carpet in a big circle with an overflow of excitement, discussing who would get more play time in the afternoon. Every single student greeted me as soon as they saw me with big smiles and open arms. I stayed for a little and watched what the class was actively participating in. At the end of each week, Mrs. Munro drew out several names from a pile of cards with the students’ names on it to award them with points. These were picked randomly, which made them incapable of sitting still, but rather jump up and down with excitement and impatience.
I noticed that although only a few names were picked every week, everyone else who didn’t get theirs picked were quick to celebrate and congratulate the others. They were all extremely respectful of each other, making sure not to comment something negative after each pick. From the online tutoring course, I learned that mutual respect between students themselves is very important in order to have a successful group session. If everyone disrespects one another and refuses to cooperate, the group session would not be effective at all. On the other hand, if all members of the group are respectful and understanding, everyone would take away something good from the session.
On Tuesday, all of first graders went on a field trip early morning. However, before they departed, they were reminded of the concepts and ideas that they were going to explore later on. They had been working on it for quite some time and were already very comfortable with what they were doing. First, we went over what artifacts were. Although it was rather a big word for first graders, they seemed to be understanding it fully. Then we reviewed over observations that help infer who the artifact might belong to. Students were able to come up with many different observations, such as color, size, shape, etc. From these, they started to guess who the object would belong to. When students were struggling make a good connection, Mrs. Munro helped them connect the dots and take a step closer to an accurate inference. Afterwards, the class moved onto “Daily 5’s”, in which the students divide into a few groups and do different activities like reading a book, practicing vocabulary, and using the iPad to do grammar exercises.
Now that I’ve been to the classroom several times, the students willingly greet me first and ask me questions. I was worried that I would not be able to have time to bond with them, but some of them even approached me before I approached them. As a tutor, I think it is important to connect with the students more personally while staying professional. This is because I feel that having a connection with the students makes the whole tutoring process much easier, as they listen more carefully and follow instructions better. I’m glad to see students who are willing to approach others, especially tutors, seeking for help.
After being extremely sick for an entire week, I was finally able to make a visit to the first graders’ classroom again. Surprisingly, the students were fairly welcoming, despite the fact that they had not seen me since a few weeks ago. When I got to the classroom, the students were finalizing their math project; they were instructed to divide a piece of paper into two or four equal parts using original and creative methods. Most of them were already done and had moved onto the reading activity, but some seemed to be having a hard time thinking of the methods to use. I looked over those few students and led them to think deeper until they were able to complete their tasks independently. Afterwards, they moved onto “Friday Fun time”, where they get the last hour of school on Fridays to do any activities or games they would like, individually or in a group. Girls played role-play games, whereas boys preferred competitive board games. I saw a few students quietly reading a book, which was impressing as most students choose to “have fun” through games and interacting with friends.
Although I have not met these students as often as I wish I had, I could certainly see their improvement in their thinking process and ability to solve problems. Compared to the very first time I met them, they were much more efficient and accurate in finishing their work. I feel that learning through continuous repetition has help them learn things in a fast pace while maintaining the accuracy. I am hoping that by the end of the school year, every single one of them will be able to follow instructions even better and get ready for second grade!
I noticed that the tutoring center has been very empty the past few weeks for reasons that I do not quite understand. Inevitably, I feel a bit anxious and uneasy about being a tutor available at the center and not having anyone to help. I started to ask other students, whether they were my peers or grades below, if they wanted to come into the center and get help from great peer tutors. The only answer I got back from them was a no. It seems like most students are either afraid to seek for help from their peers or do not realize how helpful it can be for them. No matter how hard I tried to convince them, most of them refused right away, without putting much consideration. As of now, I am hoping to come up with an effective way to promote the tutoring center and its program, so that more students will get to know about it and be less hesitant to seek help.
As I returned to Mrs. Munro’s classroom in the beginning of this month to tutor a new group of first graders who I had never met before, I quickly noticed that there weren’t as many days I could go tutor. The schedules between elementary and middle/high school were now very different and it seemed like the only free block I had was not enough. When I asked Mrs. Munro about it, she told me that the experience will not be the same as last year for both me and the students. Last year, I developed a deep, friendly and personal relationship with all the students through the numerous tutoring sessions and interactions. This year, however, as there are a lot less opportunities for me to connect with the students, which does not guarantee a strong bond between us.
Despite the unfortunate situation, I am hoping to have a positive impact on every individual and help them out as much as I can in the time remaining. I couldn’t feel any happier when my students from last year come up to me in the hallways just to simply greet and hug me. I wish to be a tutor that has a great influence on younger students.
Tutoring is undoubtedly an amazing experience to both tutors and students. I would very much like to be able to give as much help as I can to my peers and feel proud as a tutor. However, I didn’t get enough chance to do that this week. My tutee outside school is taking a break from tutoring as he just took a test for a place in our school. Within school area, not many students seemed to be needing help. This week was also the so-called “death week” for me, with several summative assessments and projects due. I spent most of the week focusing on something else other than tutoring. During that time, I reflected on myself: how can I be a more effective tutor and a student at the same time? I think I am still on the process of figuring myself out, both as a student and as a helper for another student.
Towards the end of the week, with a day off from school, I came across an article about dealing with difficult students. I was simply going to use this for my Article Review assignment in Tutor Training, so I did not put all my thoughts into comprehending the article. However, after I had finished reading, I felt like I had been lifted up into the air. Unconsciously, I had always stressed and worried about dealing with different types of students, particularly those who are not as willing to participate or cooperate with me. This article taught me a lesson on how to compassionately communicate with the students, without exhausting myself or offending them. Having this article in mind, I think I will be able to better understand the students and create a deeper, warmer relationship with them.
This week was the week of an official start to tutoring in the classrooms. I chose to tutor in Mrs. Munro’s first grade class because I have tutored her students last year. Walking down the main hallway, past the main entrance to the first grade hallway, memories swept across and excitement surrounded me. When I walked into the classroom, curious first graders looked up to see who came to visit their classroom but turned away within a few seconds. Just like any other days I was in that classroom, Mrs. Munro started to explain their task for the next hour and a half. Some students sat quietly listening to the instructions, while some moved around a few times to find a place next to their friends. The students were soon released to work on their science notebook and were instructed to move onto math games if they were done. Most kids were very efficient in completing the class work but one or two students took a bit longer. I picked and sat next to a group of three students who were playing “Make 20”. In this game, the students had to know which pair of numbers added up to 20. They struggled to count in the beginning and took a long time to find the right pair, but as the game went on, they picked it up pretty fast and were able to have fun with it.
Meeting new students made me reflect on what I learned from the online course. The first encounter may be very awkward for both parties, especially with introverted students. My goal for this year is to become comfortable with the students faster yet maintain a professional relationship so the tutoring sessions are more effective. In just the first session with the first graders, I learned that the tutor should approach the students even if they don’t appear to need help. I am hoping to give as much help to the students as they prepare for second grade.
This past week and a half was full of stress and responsibilities. I was very close to finishing the online course and was planning on starting tutoring the following week. However, I left Wednesday early morning to Suzhou for an orchestra festival. There, we practiced for 8 hours a day and only came back to the hotel at around 9 or 10 at night. After those long hours of practice, I was so exhausted that I could barely stay awake. I had no idea what was going on in my classes at school because most people were out for different tournaments. I did not know which subject to prioritize and finish first. When I came back late on Sunday, I still had about one lesson left until the end of the online tutoring course. I also realized that I had 5 summative assessments throughout the week.
I did not think that I was not going to be able to finish the online course. I had overestimated myself. 5 assessments in one week pushed me harder than I had thought, leaving me to three hours of sleep every night. Among all the chaos, however, I was able to really reflect on myself and notice the little bits of time were lost or wasted in between studying. I want to improve on time management, especially during the busier times. This will help me be more effective in completing work in a higher quality.
Another year, another tutoring! I’m back, but this time, for Tutor Training Intermediate/Advanced. The first two weeks were rather relaxing and comfortable. I could see that the intermediate/advanced course was far more extended and challenging than the beginning course. The concepts were exceptionally detailed, ranging from “Relationship with Parents” to “Copyright Use”. The course also included various information on how to tutor students in a particular area, such as writing, math or science. Two weeks in progress, I have completed most of the modules and have two units left until I can finish the course. Compared to last year, this is an exceedingly fast progression. I am planning on finishing the course by early next week.
Opening up the online course made me nostalgic and sentimental about coming back to Tutor Training. I’ve been having such good experiences with tutoring in the past year, so I am very trilled to be advancing myself and delving even deeper into the fundamentals of tutoring. I cannot wait to meet new, bright students who I would feel proud and honored to be teaching. I am hoping to improve myself as a tutor and be a beneficial resource to those students. I believe that this course will undoubtedly allow me to progress and develop as a professional tutor.