Thursday, July 17, 2008

Reflections on Part-time Tutoring

For a few weeks at the end of this school year I had the opportunity to tutor some of the kindergarteners. Each Tuesday and Thursday, for 30 minutes at a time, I would help 5-6 children on their TPRI readiness skills.

Each of the teachers gave me two to three students to work with, and they were kind enough to give me supplies and books to give me ideas of what they wanted the students to learn and how.

The first few days we were still trying to figure each other out, set a routine, and find a good place to learn. I used some of the exercises to do informal assessments of where each student was in their learning. After two or three sessions I felt comfortable knowing how much each student still needed to learn.

Since each child was already behind the rest of their class, one of my main goals was to be sure to keep the learning light-hearted and fun. I didn't want to demoralize them. Some techniques I used were songs from and using many kinds of manipulatives to keep the students engaged.

This assignment helped me to further strengthen my skills in working with small groups. A few of the children were ESL and that helped me to work on my skills in that area too; mainly re-wording concepts when they didn't understand, and writing sounds and words down so they could see as well as hear what we were talking about. We worked a little on pronunciation since that is important in phonics, but we didn't dwell on that overly much.

I was thankful that my son was able to attend as well. He was tired sometimes but usually interested in learning the phonics along with the other children.

Some barriers and issues I faced had to do with behavior problems. It's hard to convince a five-year-old that he or she wants to sit in the hall and learn while at the same time keeping the learning fun and lighthearted. It was hard to not take things personally. When we had a bad day I tended to blame myself too much. I think I came closer to learning the fact that when I do all that I can, and things still go poorly, that's okay. We'll try harder the next day; some days just go poorly.

Another issue I had to deal with was that I got a new student a couple weeks late, and I had another student who could only come half the time because of his schedule. This made it hard to keep the other kids moving forward while still making sure these two weren't left behind. I solved this by doing some activities every day, while introducing more advanced ones occasionally. This was also an issue because some of the students had a high absence rate. It's very frustrating as a teacher when the students who need the help the most are the ones who are absent the most. I realize now that this could be a common issue I will have to deal with in the classroom.

All in all I was very proud to help out in some small way. I bonded with these children and hope to work with them in the future. I am excited to see them grow and learn more. I'm also glad that this helped my own skills to keep me sharp for when I am back teaching full time.


Kim P. said...

Sounds like it was well worth your time and you learned alot. I'm sure it was really helpful to the kids even if they missed often. Any sort of more one-on-one and smaller group exercises are really a great opportunity for kids!

jessicaper said...

I had also a teaching experience. I'm glad that there was such a chance for me to learn the children's psychology and the way to treat them depending on their character. It's a good life lesson.