A Tale Of Tutor Turmoil

, , , , | Learning | October 11, 2020

My friends like to make fun of me for always reading every piece of information our college sends out to us, no matter how unimportant. This is a story that has spanned my four years at college and I’m hoping has finished already!

The college I go to assigns every student a faculty advisor; when there is any trouble, this advisor becomes the student’s advocate to the school. They are also there to advise students on more mundane rules and regulations surrounding the school. Your advisor — or tutor, as we call them — is assigned your first year of college and stays with you until you graduate. It’s suggested that when you first start, you get in touch with your tutor to either meet them or just send off an email. However, most students don’t. Of everyone I know, I seem to be the only person who ever made the effort to get to know my tutor. It seems the college wanted to have fun with me for this fact.

My first year of college, I get assigned my tutor, [Tutor #1]. I send off an email introducing myself and asking for a time to meet. My tutor responds immediately and suggests a time he is free and in his office, and I agree to meet him then.

However, the day before, I get a notification that my tutor has changed. I email [Tutor #1] and apologize. I then email [Tutor #2]. She invites me to her office hours, and this time I am able to meet her with no problem. She is a wonderful woman in the history department.

Tutor #2: “Just check in with me periodically to let me know how you’re doing!”

My second year comes, and roughly a week before classes start, I get an email: my tutor has gone on a research break, so I’ve been reassigned. No problem; at this point, I feel I’m a pro at emailing my tutors. I send an email off to [Tutor #3], introducing myself as a second-year just put under his charge, and asking to meet. He readily agrees and we make a date.

What happens two hours before we have plans to meet? I get an email from the college, changing my tutor again. I email [Tutor #3] to cancel our plans and send off an email to [Tutor #4]. She tells me she is busy for the next two weeks — the first two weeks of term — meeting with the first-year students she advises, but after that, she would love to meet. I put it out of my mind for the two weeks and then plan to email her.

What happens the day I go to email her? At this point, they have to be screwing with me. I get an email telling me that now [Tutor #5] is my tutor. I email [Tutor #4] to explain and get in touch with [Tutor #5], planning a meetup. This time, thankfully, everything goes well. We meet for coffee in one of our student coffee shops on campus and have a lovely chat about the difference between STEM degrees and arts degrees. [Tutor #5] remains my tutor for the next year.

I had really hoped the second year was the end of this funny business. But lo and behold, somehow, it isn’t. I start my final year of college in a week’s time, and I just received an email from [Tutor #5].

Tutor #5: “Hi, everyone. Sorry this email is coming out so close to the beginning of the semester, but I wanted to let you all know due to the health crisis, I’ve chosen to take this year off to do research. As such, you will all be reassigned to my colleague, [Tutor #6]. She is available to answer any problems that arise for you all. Regards, [Tutor #5].”

Seriously, I seem to be one of the only people who made the effort to meet my tutor, and somehow, someone decided to screw with me and make me have to meet and change tutors six times! At this point, I’m just hoping I make it through my final year with [Tutor #6] and can move on from this whole ordeal.

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The Playtime That Never Dies, Part 2

, , , | Right | September 26, 2020

I work in a children’s tuition centre. Whilst many of the parents are lovely, there is one woman who is known for being entitled and rude. Her child has only been coming to the centre for a month. The way our system works is children do one hour of work and then fifteen minutes of play.

Mother: “I want [Son] to do forty-five minutes of play today.”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, madam, but unfortunately, we cannot do that since company—”

Mother: *Cutting her off* “I don’t care. Make it happen.”

She then leaves, leaving her son behind. My coworker writes down the crazy lady’s request, but my manager assumes it is a mistake, due to it being so different from our usual timings, and changes it to forty-five minutes work and thirty minutes play. Then, when the mother comes to pick her son up, there is a queue of a few other families waiting to pick their kids up.

Mother: *Coming up to the desk* “Why the h*** wasn’t I served first? I shouldn’t have to wait to pick my son up!”

Coworker: “I’m sorry, madam, but those people got here before you and—”

Mother: *Cutting her off* “I shouldn’t have to wait for them! I should be served first! I’m a very busy and important person!”

Coworker: “I’m very sorry. Let me get your son.”

We collect him.

Son: “Mummy! They made me do forty-five minutes of work!”

The mother goes crazy upon hearing this, calling my coworker a plethora of insulting names, whilst yelling, scaring some of the younger children in the centre. This causes my assistant director to come out of the office.

Assistant Director: “What seems to be the matter, madam?”

Mother: “This stupid, useless girl got my son’s timings wrong! He was supposed to do forty-five minutes of play!”

My coworker is near tears at this point.

Assistant Director: “I apologise, madam; that was my fault. I changed those times since it is against company policy for children to spend that long—”

Mother: *Turning on him* “You incompetent idiot! How dare you?! I’m a paying customer and you should be doing what I say! I want to speak with [Director] right now!”

Assistant Director: “[Director] is on holiday right now. She will be back in—”

Mother: “I don’t care! Give me her phone number!”

Assistant Director: “I cannot give you her phone number because that would be against company privacy pol—”

Mother: “I don’t care about your company policies! Give me her d*** number! Or are you such an incompetent manager that you can’t even do that?!”

He is now fed up with this woman.

Assistant Director: “Madam, I don’t appreciate the way you are speaking to me or my employees. We are not paid to be insulted by you. I will not stand for being called incompetent and other rude things. Please leave our centre before I cancel your membership.”

Mother: “How dare you be so rude?! I will be calling your head office and I will be coming back tomorrow to get [Director] to cancel my son’s membership! I can’t believe you people are allowed to work in childcare!”

Assistant Director: “As I told you madam, [Director] will not be here tomorrow as she is on holiday. I will cancel your membership for you now. Please do not come back or I will be forced to call security.”

The woman then squealed and stormed off with her son. My assistant director cancelled her membership and made a note that she should not be allowed to rejoin. We were all very glad to see her go. The craziest part is that this woman was paying £100+ a month for our tutoring services and didn’t even want her son to be tutored!

People are wild.

Related:
The Playtime That Never Dies

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Math Skills! Ooh Ha Ha!

, , , , , , , | Learning | August 3, 2020

I am a private tutor. To make math more fun for my students, I often play a modified version of a Pompeii-themed boardgame with them during our lessons. For every question they answer correctly, they get a certain number of moves — depending on the question’s difficulty — to help their pawns escape the city, which gets increasingly consumed by lava as the rounds continue. For every wrong answer, they forfeit their turn and I get to move my pawns instead. The person with the most escaped pawns by the end of the game is the “winner”.

To try to instill a habit of always checking their work, I’ve also created a rule that if they don’t read over their steps or at least double-check the question again when they get to their answer, I get to just take one of their pawns and pop it straight into the volcano in the corner of the board. I am brutal with this and it has worked tremendously well; I don’t usually have to punt a pawn into a volcano more than once or twice before double-checking their work becomes an automatic process. 

I am playing this game with one of my fourth-graders — age nine. After giving him a two-digit multiplication question, I look over and check his answer once he’s finished — and double-checked!

Me: “You missed something in your addition there. Check that last column again.”

Student: “What do you mean?”

Me: “That shouldn’t be a zero. Check it again.”

Student: “No, that’s a nine!”

I take the whiteboard back from him, at which point I can see that he indeed wrote a nine, not a zero; I missed the “tail” of the nine from the angle I was viewing it from and the fact that he’d written the answer right on the edge of the board. But he got the right answer, fair and square.

Me: “Whoops, you’re right. It is a nine. Sorry, I thought that was a zero. My bad.”

Without skipping a beat, the student wordlessly takes one of my pawns off the board, and, without breaking eye contact, puts it straight into the volcano.

Me: “…”

Student: *Deadpan* “You didn’t double-check.”

Okay, kiddo. You win this round!


This story is part of our Best Of August 2020 roundup!

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Thinking Outside The Box

, , , , , , | Learning | July 19, 2020

I am a private tutor. I’ve given one of my students, a fifth-grader, an exercise which I call “reverse word problems”. The student gets a list of equations, and for each equation, they have to come up with a word problem that could fit the given equation. I am reading the answers he’s written.

Me: “You’re a scientist with four-fifth of a dead cow. You’re in a duplication room and you duplicate two-fifths of it. How much of a cow do you have?”

The equation for this one was “4/5 x 2/5.”

Me: *Laughing* “A… a scientist with a dead cow? Really, kid?”

Student: *Giggles* “Well, obviously. It has to be a dead cow. If you have four-fifths of a cow, how can it possibly still be alive?”

Me: *Pause* “You got me there.”

I keep reading.

Me: “You have one dollar and six friends, and you decide to split the dollar evenly between your six friends. How much of a dollar does each friend get?” *Pause* “Wait a minute; this doesn’t work.”

Student: “Yes, it does.”

Me: “No, think about it. Can a dollar divide into six equal parts?”

Student: *Indignantly* “Yes, it can!”

Me: “Okay, how?”

Student: “You take a pair of scissors and cut the bill into six equal parts!”

Me: “I— Well. That’s…”

The student laughs.

Me: “…genius. Forget I said anything.” 

This kid is going places.

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Boys Will Be Boys, Right?

, , , , , | Learning | June 30, 2020

I work as a tutor at an “academy” whose programme was specifically created to help kids learn English through reading. It’s important to note that the programme was created in South Korea and is licensed out to business owners who are mostly also native Korean speakers. This mostly isn’t a problem, but sometimes…

One of my students is a particularly bright ten-year-old whose English is excellent and who reads at quite a high level. He tends to be assigned longer books as a result.

Me: “Hey, buddy, how’s it going? What did you read this week?” 

Student: *Looking worried* “Uh… Lord of the Flies.”

Me: “I’m sorry? Did you say Lord of the Flies?”

Student: “Yes.”

I know that some literary classics are published in abridged and expurgated versions to make them more accessible for younger audiences. I wouldn’t think this treatment would work for “Lord of the Flies,” but maybe?

Me: “Can I take a look at your copy of the book?”

He produces the book. Nope, it’s exactly the same edition I read in high school when I was seventeen.

Student: “You know, um, I don’t think this book is for kids. It was really scary.”

Me: “You’re definitely right about that.”

After his session was over, I went to my boss and suggested that this particular book not be assigned to kids younger than about fifteen. She seemed baffled at the idea that a literary classic that’s ABOUT children might not be FOR children — “It’s on the programme list!” — but I eventually persuaded her not to assign it to any more preteens.


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