Thursday, April 12, 2007

tutoring update

when i arrived at tutoring, breathless, due to rushing from the train that just can't manage to be on time this week, i expected to see my little tutee, waiting with a smirk on her face.

instead, i was greeted by the director, telling me my charge had been suspended from the program for bad behavior. dismayed, i shared my disappointment, and she asked if i wanted to help another child. i eagerly accepted, expecting to meet my new tutee next week. instead, she rushed off, offering over her shoulder that she'd find someone.

i wandered over to the bookshelf, and the room's noise and chaos level quickly soared--a typical response to the young director's absense. even when she is in the room, it's hard to believe that any child can focus and learn in such an environment. it is the fashion in which the program is directed that may end up testing my patience--not my suspended tutee's ill behavior.

she returned with a little boy i recognized, and without introducing him, told me i should help him with his homework and reading skills. i had to ask her his name and grade--two facts that should have preempted encouraging him in my direction.

my substitute tutee was the same age as my primary tutee, and that's where the similarities ended. it wasn't his elevated reading skills that marked the differences, but his attitude. my goodness, it became absolutely clear that the most strident barrier in my tutee relationship is her attitude. this child exhibited the normal reluctance to do anything that wasn't fun--like football--but once i started reading, he quickly became engaged, and interrupted me by reading out loud. we read several books, and this was the pattern with each. it was a joy!

as i was leaving i saw my tutee's older sister who volunteers at the center. i asked her what happened, and she admitted it was more than her mouth that got her in trouble. i asked more questions about the source of her behavior, and learned that according to her teenage sister, she's never been told "no" and does "whatever she wants." i imagine this isn't the whole story, but it certainly shed light on the situation.

my tutee will likely return next week, and likely will be more sullen, more angry, and more embarrassed about being asked to stay away. i'm ready for her, but i now know that the staff's waning patience may soon end our relationship.

1 comment:

david silver said...

your patience is impressive sarah. while you're there, i'm sure you'll learn and teach a lot. and after that, i'm sure you'll bring your books, skills, and smiles to new tutees.