A year of tutoring

Last night we had a holiday open house for Literacy NY.   It’s hard to believe it has been a year since I started tutoring!

The tutors got together for a nice meeting.  Haven’t seen some of these people since we did our training a year ago.  Family represented here. John tutors math and my mom also tutors reading.

The director said she forgot her camera and you know I am always prepared, so I lent her mine.  This is what happens when someone else tries to take a picture with your camera.   :mrgreen:

This has been an interesting year.  It was not what I was expecting, although truthfully I am not really sure what I was expecting.

I am on my third learner in a year.  I guess I thought I would be tutoring and things would be all rosy and we would meet each week and make progress and the learner would meet all their goals.  Reality is much different than that.

Sometimes literacy is a small part of why someone may be struggling and bigger problems really need to be addressed that get in the way of the learning.

Then there is the reality check of how much work has to be done.  When you have someone reading at a 6th grade level and they think they are going to take the GED test in 3 months – it is a huge reality check when they realize that it will take much, much longer than that.  Literacy tutoring isn’t school. It’s only a couple hours a week and requires a lot of independent study time.

Keeping a learner’s attitude up and positive is a huge part of tutoring.  Bolstering self esteem is just as important as vocabulary.  That is something that I had to learn as well.  Walking the fine line between correcting stuff and being positive about it is a tough one.

It was a little disappointing, particularly with my first learner, when he just didn’t put forth any effort at all and would often not show up for meeting or when he did show, he hadn’t done anything during the week, so progress was glacial.  I kind of wasn’t expecting that as I figured that when people actually came for help that they were ready, but that isn’t always the case.

Tutoring is also mentally exhausting.  I have taught before (music), so giving a lesson isn’t really a new thing, but this is just so tiring!

Prepping is hard as well because material for adult learners is  hard to come by.  When going over grammar concepts, too many books and worksheets have little kid stuff on them, which can be insulting to an adult, don’t you think?

It feels like something that is so important to do, though.  I know how extremely lucky I am that I loved reading from the get-go and immersed myself in books all throughout school and that made some things much easier for me (including giving me a place to hide from the bullies).  Reading truly is fundamental and I wish that everyone had the love of reading as it is a gift.

So, we shall see what happens in the next year.

Our weather hasn’t felt very Christmasy – rain mostly instead of snow.  Our tree feels all holiday, though.  I was just admiring it with the presents underneath that arrived from John’s family today.

Today’s ornament:

A cupcake!  From my mom.  There is a series of these cupcake ornaments and I now have 2 of them.

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19 thoughts on “A year of tutoring

  1. Lisa

    Ha! I have a cupcake ornament too!

    So a few things:
    1) I think it’s great you are a literary tutor. It’s something I’d love to do but like you said, it’s kind of exhausting. I’m in charge of training at work and it definitely mentally exhausting. I think I’d rather teach kids.

    2) I have a Canon Rebel DLSR and I hate giving it to someone else to take a pic because it’s so hard to explain in 2 seconds. 🙂
    Lisa´s last blog post ..Coping – Then and Now

  2. Kim

    I find the hardest thing in teaching is balancing the corrections with the constant praise and encouragement. Bless you for your devotion to tutoring. You can tell my emotions are still a bit on edge after Connecticut, I first read “bullies” as “bullets”.

  3. Dawn

    I think I mentioned I tutored for several years quite a few years ago. When I first started people came to the literacy council to be tutored but in later years they were recruited so the learners didn’t seem as dedicated. But one lady stayed with me for a very long time. Like John I tutored in math and she wanted to get her realtors license or something related to that for her job. She always worked so hard, we were together for probably a year or so. So yes you do sometimes get those special learners that really are in it for themselves to succeed. I wish you luck this year in finding that special learner.

    Loved your cupcake ornament from your mom too 🙂

    So if we come to visit it will be the Saturday after Christmas and we will be staying till New Years so I hope we can find a bit of time to see each other while I’m there. I’m excited 🙂
    Dawn´s last blog post ..What To Say

  4. Lori's Mom

    Very good post on literacy tutoring, Lori. I certainly can relate. I had no idea it would be so tiring. I hope I am making some difference to my learners. I think I did with the first learner I had. We can just keep on doing our best.

  5. Taryl

    I don’t tutor, necessarily, but I do homeschool and am teaching my oldest daughter to read right now. It is surprisingly challenging, especially for my patience 🙂 I’m sure adult students or older children are even trickier, since there are other issues besides just initial learning curves to manage. Still, I’m sure you do an excellent job and I hope it is rewarding for you.

    The tree is gorgeous!

  6. Fran

    I think it’s fantastic that you, John and your Mom take time and effort to help students. I can totally understand it’s hard and there aren’t many people who do this to help others. So to all of you: I admire you for doing this!
    Fran´s last blog post ..Monday December 17, 2012: Mishmash

  7. Helen

    I think it’s wonderful that you give back in this way. If only you could get your learners to realize that literacy will open the world to them – they’d probably never quit.

    I’m with you on it not feeling like Christmas but I hear there’s a cold snap coming. Even if it doesn’t snow at all, that will definitely help!
    Helen´s last blog post ..Tuesday Ten

  8. Sharon

    I am so glad you’ve stuck with the tutoring in spite of the disappointments. It is so important and you gave it much thought before choosing this specific avenue of giving back. I feel certain it’s the right thing for you to be doing. Need snow pics as soon as you have any to show cause we’re a long way from it down here in the south. Feels more like spring than Christmas!!
    Sharon´s last blog post ..Regrouping

  9. Ali @ Peaches and Football

    I never knew John was a tutor too – I must have missed that in a post. Having a family member who can read very, very little (first grade, maybe?) I can certainly attest to how challenging and tiring it is. For me, it’s also heartbreaking because we have, collectively as a family, spent weeks and it’s not from a lack of effort – some people just can’t read. I think it’s wonderful that you are doing this though and I’m sure you are making a difference in their lives!

    One possible idea – I know there are several companies who make textbooks, etc for home schoolers. Maybe they would consider donating some reading materials for you to make copies and share with your group.
    Ali @ Peaches and Football´s last blog post ..Christmas Swedish Cookies

  10. debby

    Thanks for sharing this part of your life with us. It is very generous of you to volunteer your time like this. Just think–you have the possibility of dramatically changing one person’s life for the better! Not many people have that opportunity in their life.
    debby´s last blog post ..A Bit of This ‘n That

  11. Cammy@TippyToeDiet

    Kudos to you for sharing your time and talents in such a noble effort!

    I agree on the teaching/training fatigue! When I did software training in my previous job, I was totally wiped out at the end of the day. I still get that way with this soda dispenser training, though to a lesser degree. It can be exhausting being “on” for an extended period.
    Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog post ..Reader Input Request

  12. Shelley B

    I know that people go into volunteering for something with great intentions (like you and tutoring) but sometimes it isn’t as cut-and-dried, you do your role and the student does his/hers – and that’s where it becomes a learning experience for YOU. Still, every person who came across you, and your willingness to help them, had to have been touched, even if they didn’t show it or take full advantage of it. But I bet they’ll remember that experience for a long time.

    Love the cupcake ornament – it’s absolutely perfect!
    Shelley B´s last blog post ..Wednesday Workout Update

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