Wednesday, March 07, 2007

eager, she's not.

today i volunteered as a literacy tutor for the first time. it's taken months to get past the red tape and general lollygagging that i presume is what has kept me from my post.

i was very excited.

and prepared for what laid ahead.

my tutee is a 7 year old girl who doesn't know how to read. she's scared, angry, and insolent--all deftly used to mask the fact that she knows she should know how to read.

as i expected, she didn't want anything to do with me.

the problem was i wanted a lot to do with her. she couldn't phase me or upset me or stop me from eeking out the teeniest glimmer of interest in reading, in something. at one point--her most expressive and honest moment--she broke down and admitted that she can't read, that she just makes stuff up. so i told her, "that's great! why don't you make up a really good story by looking at the pages of the book?" she liked this plan.

her excitement didn't last too long, as she remembered she wasn't supposed to actually like what we were doing, but what she didn't notice was that i noticed what excited her. i realize it will take time and patience and determination, and it won't be fun all the time, but in my first day, full of idealism, i believe it's worth a shot, that she's worth a shot. the director is giving her one more chance before they ask her to not come back--in her words, the little girl has been rude and difficult. it's just so sad. these kids need someone to stick it out with them, to believe in them so they can believe in themselves. i think i may have surprised the director when i expressed hope and belief that she could learn how to behave and focus.

we shall see.


jini said...

well sarah i would say that she is lucky to be assigned to you. you are creative and inventive and already have given her some confidence about her story telling. if anyone can have a successful experience with her it's you. you rock. love you.....

Jay Fienberg said...

Great that you aren't put off by the challenge--I hope things continue to progress well.

This may or may not be relevant, but I thought it might be at least a little useful--it's a good article: How Not to Talk to Your Kids: The Inverse Power of Praise.

sarah said...

cool. thanks, jay!
i'll read it on my plane trip to madrid tomorrow :)

Michelle said...

Wow. Sad that they have been worn down by her 7 year old surliness. I hope you can reach her. It's sweet that you are determined, and I have a lot of hope for this kid with you on her side.

Do you think she'd like a boy pen pal in Denmark? Nick likes to get email, and maybe that would help give her a little inspiration.

Michelle said...

I just read that article and it rocked my world. Wow.

Also, you know what is just up the block from Madrid? Yes, that would be Copenhagen! Hey!

sarah said...


what a wonderful idea. i´ll look into a penpal relationship with sweet lil'nicky. estupendo!

m, i´m sitting here with alex from france, listening to death cab for cutie on his i pod. what a multicultural experience :)

next time we visit, we will include copenhagen, and we will bring along davide and maria. you would love them, and they, you.