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Run-Ons Have Run On For Too Long

, , | Learning | January 16, 2019

(I’m a college student and I tutor kids. It’s a very casual job as I teach the kids of families who I know personally, so there’s not too much worry about how I’m doing or what I’m doing, as long as the kid is improving. I can even do it online, as we can file-share and call/Skype, although I generally prefer to start the first few sessions in-person. One day, I get a new student who is 13 years old, hates reading and writing, and just generally does not want to be there. This is our first session. We’re working online, so I can’t gauge how much of his attention I actually have.)

Me: “Okay, so now that I’ve explained what a run-on sentence is, can you find the rest of the run-on sentences in the paragraph?”

Kid: “Hmm, yeah…”

Me: “…Are you doing it?”

Kid: “Right… right. So, you want me to edit the paragraph, right?”

Me: “Kind of. Do you remember what I just said about the run-on sentences?”

Kid: “Yeah.” *he immediately starts deleting things and rewriting, obviously having not heard one word of what I said to him*

Me: “Okay, okay, stop. Stop that right now. Here’s what we’re going to do. I need you to stand up.”

Kid: “Uh… what?”

Me: “Stand up. Trust me.”

Kid: “Okay, I’m up.”

Me: “Say this three times: “I will pay attention to what [My Name] tells me. If I get distracted, I will ask for a quick break.””

Kid: *silent for a REALLY long time* “[My Name]… are you psychic?!”

Me: “Well… let’s just say I can tell when you’re not focusing. Can we make a deal?”

Kid: “Okay.”

Me: “I will try to make the sessions more interesting, and I will add reading topics on things I know you like, as long as you promise to pay attention to the boring stuff we have to get through, too. And if you lose concentration, you have to tell me. We can take a break, I don’t mind. But you won’t get better if you aren’t at least trying.”

Kid: “I guess that’s fair.”

Me: “These sessions are for you. If you don’t feel more confident about what you’re learning, what’s the point, right?”

Kid: “Yeah, I guess so. Can I write about electric cars in the next session?”

(Since this session, I’ve been working with him for six months. I’m very proud of the improvements he’s made — leaps and bounds! But most of all, the lesson that he really took away from all this? He tells me everything so that I won’t find out by “digging through his mind using my psychic abilities” anymore. I’ve tried telling him I’m not really psychic, but he promises he’ll keep my superpower a secret.)

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