It has truly been a long time since I’ve been able to say that about a day when I tutor. After my complaints and whining and weariness with my own self my mantra this morning was “find something positive, find something positive.”
The tutorials where anything but perfect. However going into the day with a purpose to move beyond the frustration, the apathy, the regret at saying yes to this job, I made it through with much less desire to tear my hair out and scream at my students for wasting not only my time but their own.
I’m not even sure how much positive anything I really found today, but perhaps simply because I was trying to look for that elusive bright spot the usual process was a bit more bearable.
My 8th graders had their assessments today and we will be switching groups once more next week. I’m pretty fond of my 8th graders in general. Actually I really like every single student who has been in any of my tutorial groups at any given time. Some I feel more affinity with than others.
When we assess our kids there are specific criteria we look for. I usually start by asking them to grade themselves. I’ve only ever had a few who have given themselves better reports than what my assessments have shown. Today I was happy to see that my reports were really spot on with how each 8th grader rated themselves. I was also happy to honestly be able to tell them that I have seen improvement. For the most part these kids now need to work on consistency by making sure that they follow through, and at the very least, meet standards rather than go backwards. I have a lot of hope for these groups as this is their first year and I think 95% want to succeed in this program. My fear is that all that will change. That’s a real dichotomy I suppose: longing for hopeful outcomes while terrified that everything they have accomplished will go to hell.
I think I have the hardest time with the 9th grade groups. This is their first year also, but they seem to have different viewpoints than the younger groups. What happens between 8th and 9th grade? In our school system even though the 9th graders are housed at the junior high school building they are for all practical purposes in high school and considered Freshmen. We can’t seem to make them understand that this stuff counts, and that every single thing they are doing is going to be directly reflected in future education outcomes. This is a group of kids with so many issues though. Personal, familial and social. They struggle in all aspects of their lives. I’m not sure I would be giving much emphasis myself to school if I was in many of their positions.
I have fallen into tutoring one particular group of 10th grade students about 80% of the time. This group has two boys who feed off of each other, not always in good ways, and a girl who is sweet and fortunately holds her own with the distractions of the boys. I like to study the interactions between these kids especially when other students are introduced as members. Their behaviors change dramatically, so I have my very own sociological experiment happening. It’s really rather enjoyable to have this secret and orchestrate conditions to monitor reactions. They are a great group to apply my own learning to directly. I will add here that I would appreciate it if no one reading this post turns me in to the ASA as this really isn’t a sanctioned experimental study, these participants have not given consent, and I have no intention of actually publishing research statistics and articles. When days are bad and the negatives are overwhelming these little sociological diversions keep me sane.
Finally, I was sort of rewarded with an 11th grade group of students today who I haven’t worked with in quite some time. This age group has been with the program long enough that I mostly just monitor. One boy in particular was much more talkative than I remember him being before and actually quite fun. I will be honest. Working with this age is sometimes disconcerting. These kids have a way of looking at you sometimes like I’m sure they look at their parents. It’s that quizzical, disinterested, aloof, and I-am-so-not-revealing-anything-of-myself attitude. Then we have a day like today where you get to see their personality shine through and actually have fun with them. That’s a huge positive.
Let’s keep fingers crossed that this trend continues for a while longer.