Hi! My name is Siming, and I am currently a sophomore attending the International School of Beijing. This is my second year of tutoring – after taking Tutor Training I last year, I was inspired to continue improving my tutoring abilities. Even more importantly, the reason why I chose to take Tutor Training II was because I wanted to keep working with other students within a wonderful, friendly environment. I hope that this year is just as amazing, if not better, than last year!
One of my favorite hobbies is debate. I love to discuss current events, politics, philosophy, and economics with my friends and also argue over them during fun debate sessions. I also love to sing. You may have seen me perform during grade 8 idol, or during the talent show this year! My final hobby is cross country. Ever since I was young, I loved the feeling of running out in the open, without a worry of anything else in the world.
My best subject in school is Math. I love using logic to solve puzzles (which is also why I enjoy board and card games), and I especially enjoy gnawing on one difficult question on a cool, Saturday night. In my tutoring this year, I hope to share my interest in math with other students and to inspire them to develop themselves in this field.
Although I couldn’t meet with the students this week due to me being sick on tuesday and the students having a test on thursday, I still had a productive week brainstorming for my final project during my Tutor Training block and after school. Currently, I have a few ideas that I really like. First of all, I thought about taking some photos during my next tutoring session, and using the photos to create a photo collage to show other students what tutor training is like. I liked this idea because instead of just saying why tutoring is an exciting experience, the photos directly show what tutoring is like, and has a much greater effect. Another idea that I thought about was creating a short film, where I interview some students and tutors on their experiences. I liked this idea also, because it let’s potential tutor’s of next year see what tutoring is like for both sides of the experience, and tells tutors that what they do really does have an effect on other students. Finally, my last idea was to create an infographic on what the tutoring experience is like. I liked this idea because it would give students some valuable insight on how to be effective tutors, based on my own experiences and the lessons i’ve learned this year.
In the end, even though I unfortunately could not tutor the Learning Support students this week, I made the best out of this week by brainstorming and coming up with multiple ideas for my final project.
This week, I met up with the learning support class twice. On Monday, as a class, we first talked about elevator pitches and what they were. Afterwards, we split into two groups. One group thought of different ways to introduce a pitch, and one group thought of different ways to end a pitch. The first group of students thought of ideas such as using anecdotes, rhetorical questions, or shocking facts to start a pitch and introduce the situation. The second group talked about using challenges to the audience, call to actions, and unanswered questions to end a pitch and create a lasting effect. In the end, every student wrote their own elevator pitch on their own topic with the help of Mr. Sostak and Angela and I. On Friday, at the start of class, each student started by writing on their journals. They wrote about their viewpoint on the idea that “wealth allows one to fully live life.” Before they started writing, I first talked to the students in order to help them understand the statement and to help them develop a unique opinion on the statement. Afterwards, I read through the student’s journals, and made sure that their formatting and everything was in place. Finally, we played a vocabulary game called “apples to apples”. This game also practiced the students speaking abilities as we modified the game so that the players would have to justify their choice of card to the judge and persuade the judge to pick theirs.
Overall, I think this week was really exciting and I enjoyed working with the students greatly. Moreover, this week taught me a couple of lessons as a tutor. First of all, I was extremely surprised by the students on friday, when they were writing their journals. This is because, contrary to my expectation, almost every student had a different way of interpreting the statement “wealth allows one to fully live life.” Some said that the statement is false because wealth can’t buy hapinness, and you can live life fully without alot of money. Others said that the statement is true because wealth allows you to purchase material goods, and allows you to shape your life into one that you would enjoy. The diversity of ideas in the class really showed to me how a group of people has far more potential than an individual. Second of all, I learned that sometimes, games are the best way to learn. When Mr. Sostak said we were playing a card game, I originally didn’t think much of it, and thought that the students wouldn’t learn much from it. However, when we began playing the game, the students that were usually extremely quiet and untalkative started speaking, and it seemed like they were enjoying themselves while talking to everyone else in the class. I was quite shocked at this, and I realized that, sometimes, a little fun can go a much farther distance than reading or writing. Overall, I enjoyed this week of tutoring and I’m looking forwards to next week.
Last week, I met with the Learning Support class a couple of times. The first time we met, the class started with 30 minutes of independent reading. Mr. Sostak assigned me to help one of the students read their book, “Divergent”. Mostly, I let the student read the book out loud while I jumped in when he didn’t know how to pronounce a word or when he didn’t know the meaning of a word. Occasionally, at the end of a paragraph or section, I would ask the student questions about the passage he just read to make sure that he understood the novel and was the following the storyline. Afterward, I discussed with him the SDG goals that the novel connected to and talked about the message the author was probably trying to send. In the end, the student’s finalized their survey questions for their capstone projects, and I helped make sure that their questions had a variety of structures, was well thought out and was related to their topic. The next time we met, we first showed a video at the beginning of class. It was of three girls who had thought of two ideas to deal with SDG #5, which is inequality. The first idea was a necklace that could help prevent women from being abused by sending a message to other women nearby, and the second idea was a recycle box for technology that could then be given to poorer places. After watching the video, the class split into groups to discuss the video and come up with things they liked questions they still had and suggestions for the ideas. Angela and I helped facilitate these discussions. Afterward, we filmed the students as talking about the things they discussed, and Mr. Sostak emailed it back to the three students.
As a tutor, I continued to develop my tutoring abilities in the past week. First of all, the independent reading time on Monday was one of the few times where I talked to and spent time with another student one on one for a long duration. Usually, I would go about the classroom from student to student, and help out if they had any question. Second of all, when I facilitated a discussion with four students on what they thought about the video, I found that it was challenging keeping everyone engaged. In the end, I got everyone to contribute their ideas and we finished everything in time. Through this process, I grew as a tutor. I plan on continuing to improve as a tutor by working on actively engaging students, which is something that I think will benefit me greatly once I get better at.
This week, I met with the Learning Support students twice, first on Tuesday and again on Thursday. On Tuesday, we talked about think tanks and “SDG”‘s. The class was split in two and Angela and I each worked with one group. First of all, we created a student-friendly definition of what a think tank is so that the students would be able to handle the more complex ideas better later on. Afterward, we talked about what think tanks are used for, what goals it is intended to achieve, as well as how to run a think tank ourselves at ISB. Finally, we split the 16 UN sustainable development goals (SDG) into groups of four so that every SDG in each group would share a common theme, and we did this as an entire class. Our final goal is so that the students would be able to run four think tanks independently based on the four main ideas created by categorizing the sustainable development goals. On Thursday, we talked about global warming. First of all, Mr. Sostak showed the entire class four videos about carbon and how it contributes to global warming through the “greenhouse effect.” I helped the students set up note taking documents and supported them as they wrote down the most important concepts that were introduced in the video. I also helped them notice essential vocabulary and helped them create student-friendly definitions for the words that they didn’t understand. After we watched the four videos, we discussed as a class about the importance of carbon in global warming and how global warming will affect us in the future. Afterward, every student found a book about global warming that they were interested in to read. As they read their books, I continued to support them as they took notes and spotted essential vocabulary. Next week, we will be discussing what they learned in their books, and the students will find random people on campus to explain the role of carbon in global warming, as well as what global warming is.
Overall, I’m content with my tutoring this week, and I feel like I am improving as a tutor in that the students are now more comfortable to ask questions and discuss ideas with me. One thing that I could improve on is to find ways to engage the students more in their learning so that I don’t have to keep checking on them and instead they can work independently and also effectively at the same time.
This week, I met with the learning support class three times as well as created a personal resume. On Monday, the class learned about street art. The class was split into groups of 3, and each group had to create posters about what street art is without using any words. Afterwards, every group chose one famous street artist and analyzed one of their famous works. On Wednesday, we discussed the posters created on Monday, and did presentations about them. Friday was interesting, because Angela and I simulated a mini debate with the class on the topic of whether or not climate change should be the biggest priority of governments. It was very interesting and I think the class learned a lot from the experience because they had to step out of their comfort zones and utilize their English abilities through on the spot thinking. For the resume, I had four different sections: experience as a tutor, interests, extracurricular activities, and achievements. I put these four sections because I felt like they best display who I am as a person and what kind of tutor I aspire to be.
I learned a lot from tutoring the learning support class this week, especially on Friday. This is because as one of the members of the APAC forensics team, I have never stood in the role of the teacher when it comes to debates. Because of this, as I showed the students how to make a good speech, it also helped me understand how my debate coaches saw me when I made speeches in the past. The personal resume was also a learning experience for me, as I have never done anything like this ever before. I think that learning how to create a good resume is a very important skill to have, as I will probably make many more resumes in the time to come, when I apply for colleges or a job. Overall, I’m proud of my work this week, and I will continue to do what I am currently doing in the next few weeks.
In the past week, I worked with Mr. Sostak’s EAL class, and I also wrote an article analysis. I only had one class with the EAL class this week due to parent-teacher conferences. During that class, because Mr. Sostak was away, we went to the Futures Academy space where Mr. Q acted as the substitute. Mr. Sostak left instructions for the students to watch a documentary about a hospital in Africa which helps give free surgery for children born with cleft palates. The film followed two children, a girl and a boy, who went through the whole process and had their cleft palates fixed. The documentary began with a member of the organization that runs the hospital convincing the children’s parents to make the journey to the hospital on March 18th (the day the hospital opens) and ended with the children happily playing with their friends at their local schools. Throughout the video, I guided the students to pause the video periodically and utilize the “Notice and Note” techniques. I guided them to identify features of the documentary that struck out to them, and to record them down on the template that Mr. Sostak provided. For the article analysis, I read a news article on how racial inequality in America is caused by racial inequalities in the education system in America, as well as how improving the American education system can help improve the grades of African Americans as well as help reduce the issues of racial inequalities in America today.
A big takeaway from my time with the EAL students this week is that I experienced a clear real-life example of when tutoring benefits the tutor just as much as it benefits the students. When the students and I watched the documentary about the African children with cleft palates, I learned just as much about the organizations that are helping these people in need as every other student who watched the documentary. While helping the students with notice and note techniques, I also helped myself understand the context of the situation in Africa, and I also created a more in-depth analysis of the film for myself to take away. Moreover, my article analysis also benefitted me as a tutor greatly. Writing my article analysis helped me realize that tutoring is more than just helping students learn, but that tutoring has many more real-life effects and applications, such as creating a more racially equal society. Overall, I’m proud of my work this week and I will continue to work with the EAL students next week as well as write a one-page resume, which will be a new experience that I am excited about.
In the last two weeks, I finished the Crossroads of Learning online course, I wrote my personal statement, and I had my first tutoring session at Learning Support with Mr. Sostak. My first tutoring session was a really interesting experience. The students were learning about analyzing primary/secondary sources, recognizing biases, identifying target audiences, and thinking like a historian. Mr. Sostak first led an entire class activity where he analyzed an image of the Syrian of crisis as an example for the students, and then told the students to work independently on analyzing a cartoon of Kim Jung Un and his participation in the winter Olympics. While the students were working independently on analyzing the cartoon, I walked around the class and helped out the students that were confused or had questions. After class ended, I discussed with Mr. Sostak about his expectations of me, and I told him about the contract that I would write.
Overall, I am pretty confident about the Crossroads of Learning course, and I feel like I understood all of the concepts that were taught. I am also satisfied with my personal statement because I included some personal examples, which I think will be effective in conveying to anyone that reads my personal statement about who I am as a person. For my first tutoring session, I think that there are definitely areas in which I can improve on. First of all, I need to work on remembering everyone’s names, so that when I talk to them, it will make the students feel more comfortable and willing to share their ideas. I noticed that whenever Mr. Sostak asked a question to the class and someone raised their hands, Mr. Sostak would call out their name, or if no one raised their hands, Mr. Sostak would call out the name of someone that hasn’t talked for a while, and ask him/her to answer the question. I think that what Mr. Sostak did is very effective and I will try to implement that method into my future tutoring sessions when working with groups. Also, I need to work on making students feel more comfortable to talk to me. Some students asked me questions and were quite open to suggestions that I gave, but other students were quite shy and didn’t talk much. If I can call the shy students by their names, and use positive and welcoming body language and facial gestures, I think they will be more willing to talk to me about what they may be confused about.
This week, I learned about the role of cultural awareness in effective communication, the importance of understanding culture shock and how to deal with it, the techniques to using praise effectively, and the effective use of the effort effect. First of all, cultural awareness is very important during a tutoring session, as it can help you understand the background of your tutee, and how you should approach him/her in a comfortable manner. Second, it is important to understand culture shock, as helping a tutee effectively transition into an unfamiliar environment will help him/her focus and do better in school. Third, in order to use praise effectively, your body language/facial expressions has to match with what you are saying, and you should reward your student based on effort and progress, not achievement.
I think that the three main ideas that I learned about this week are all very important, as they are things that often times are especially important for struggling students and students that are in a new environment. Because of this, I think that the skills that I learned this week will help me be a better tutor towards students who are in a new environment or are unmotivated to learn. In short, the techniques I learned this week are not better ways to tutor students (I learned that last week), but better ways to make your tutee feel comfortable in a possibly unfamiliar setting. Personally, I think that it is important for me to utilize these tools when I begin to tutor students at ISB after the break.
This is my first blog post on tutor training!
Over the course of the next few months, I will be posting weekly updates on my tutor training progress here.