Sunday, April 24, 2016

The Heart of a Tutor

If you are a tutor, you can most definitely agree with the statement, "Not much can compare to the heart of a tutor." Yes, it is true that to be an educator you have to have a heart for your students. But the more I connect with various educators around the world, the more I realize that there is something truly unique about the relationships tutors develop with their students, and that cannot go unrecognized any longer.
I've recently had an amazing discussion with a fellow tutor in the UK. It started out as a call for help amongst an educator's group we are both part of. She was at a crossroads with a student and unsure of which way to go. Without explicitly stating her desire, she explained the situation. (It was a real doozie for sure, and one only the strongest, bravest, and patient person could endure). The immediate reaction from our trusted colleagues was to run, throw in the towel, give up on the student.

I have to be honest for a moment, and say my initial response was similar. But I shared an experience I've had with a similar student, and the struggle I had in deciding to let the student go. It was painful, and I felt remorse and like a failure. But, in retrospect, the student/tutor partnership had long dissolved and the time, energy, and money were not being well spent. It is, unfortunately, a decision all tutors face at one point in their career.

I could tell, however, that this tutor wasn't at that point. The way she was defending her student, and giving us more of the story, told me there was more to be said. I invited her to a private conversation about the situation, and it came out that she really wasn't ready to let this student go. Yes there was a problem, and yes she needed to find a solution. But it was not time to let the student go. So we talked about ways she could motivated the student, reward her positive behavior, and work toward a goal.

We spent a good amount of time talking about a reward program I use, that many other tutors I've talked with use as well. It's not a behavior chart like you'd see in a classroom, and it's not a system of pluses and minuses you'd see on a progress report. It's just a simple way to to help our students focus on their positive behavior choices, define a goal and work toward it, and then get a little reward for achieving the goal. I wrote about it a while back, here.

We then talked about what counts as a reward, because let's face it, tutors are not at the top of the earnings chart of the education world. If classroom teachers are poor, tutors are dirt poor! We want to buy little trinkets and toys for our students to motivate their progress, but we simply can't eat away at all of our profits, someone has to pay the bills. We came up with several activities that could count as a reward: playing a game on the iPad, drawing, having a lesson outside, or a "fun" lesson of the student's choice.
The one take away from that discussion is this: it doesn't matter if you're a teacher, a counselor, a parent, or a student yourself, no one can really understand the heart of a tutor. As tutors, we live/work in isolation, it's nice to be able to talk with someone who shares our world. That conversation with a tutor halfway around the world made me feel like there was someone out there who shares the heart I have for my students.
grin emoticon

No comments:

Post a Comment

Most Popular Posts Lately