Spunky. A word to describe the first grader that I tutor every Monday. She’s full of everything- laughter, smiles, tears, attitude, wiggles- and lots of love. We work hard on math, sight words, and reading comprehension. She’s a comfortable burst of energy on a Monday evening.
Hardworking. A word to describe the third grader I sometimes tutor on Tuesdays. She tries her hardest with everything she does- sometimes it sticks, sometimes it doesn’t. We usually focus on math- right now, long division. It’s tricky for her, but there is never a moment when she’s not smiling, giggling, and moving her pencil/working her brain.
The rest of them that I see (whether regularly or on occasion) simply can not be given only one word. They are middle schoolers and high schoolers and they are funny, awkward, sensitive, driven, shy, snarky……you know, “typical”. I love each and every one of them and even though sometimes they bring me really hard math (I am not a math person), we always work through it together and have a fun time doing it. I also learn some cool things with their science projects, reading comp. articles, and history papers.
Last week I was asked to take on a new student. She is 26 years old, and can not read or write.
I have spent all week thinking about this. About how I am going to approach this, without feeling like I’m demeaning her. She’s not a 5 year old who hasn’t experienced life, and I can’t giggle and use my kindergarten teacher voice through this.
I’ve come to terms that I know I need to start basic, even though whipping out my letter ID chart for her feels wrong somehow; I’ve come to realize it’s not wrong. It’d be wrong if I didn’t do it. She’s seeking help, she wants to learn, and I need to do whatever I need to do to help her. I need to get baseline data- where she’s at, what she does know/does not know. Letter ID/sound ID. Sight words. I want to know what’s worked for her and what has not. I want to know where she comes from and where she wants to be; what are her goals and wants and dreams?
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared, timid, and a little uneasy. This is such a huge thing and I have it in my hands. Somehow teaching an adult scares me more than teaching a child. Though I’m feeling nervous about this experience, I am also so excited. I am excited to move her forward and give her knowledge that she hasn’t had. I’m excited to see how this changes her life and what she does with this.
I’m excited to see how it changes my life and my teaching, too.