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.)

When Dyscalculia Attacks!

, , , , , , , | Learning | January 14, 2019

I had a babysitter once who I found out was in the ‘slow’ class and I couldn’t understand why, since she seemed like a normally intelligent kid.

She said it was her math; she just didn’t understand it and could never get it right. I told her to come over after school and I’d tutor her.

I decided to start at the beginning so I could judge where she was, and got out the penny jar to use in demonstrating basic adding and subtracting.

I soon came to realise that she had absolutely no concept of written numbers. She’d see a number and it was just a meaningless squiggle to her. She was trying to memorize them and remember what it meant when you had one squiggle and did something with it with another squiggle. I have never come across this before and have no idea what you’d call it. I’m sure it has a name.

So, we started with the pennies, me showing her that this squiggle meant these many pennies and onward and upward, and it didn’t really take long, once we figured out the problem, to get her all caught up. She graduated high school in a ‘regular’ class with her age mates.

But I CANNOT understand how this child got to grade ten without any of her ‘educators’ figuring this out!

They Just L-SAT There

, , , , , , | Learning | September 14, 2018

(I am looking for a summer job in law school and I apply to an LSAT tutoring company. They give me a Skype interview where I have to go through a practice problem as if I were teaching it to a student.)

Me: “So, do you want me to demonstrate the problem, or go through it in Socratic Method?”

(Socratic Method is where you ask the person questions so that they figure it out themselves.)

Interviewer: “Doesn’t matter to me, man.”

(I go ahead and demonstrate the problem, figuring it is a lot easier than trying to walk the interviewer through it Socratically. After I’m done, the interviewer says:)

Interviewer: “Okay, that was fine, but unfortunately we wanted you to teach it Socratically.”

Me: “Okay, but I asked you specifically at the beginning if you wanted me to, and you said I didn’t need to.”

Interviewer: “Hm… I don’t remember that.”

Me: “Well, do you want me to teach it Socratically now, then?”

Interviewer: “Meh, sure. Go ahead.”

Me: “Okay, so, starting from the beginning, what’s the first thing we need to figure out about the problem?”

Interviewer: “I don’t know.”

Me: *slightly taken aback, I go even simpler* “Okay, so, what information do we know from the problem?”

Interviewer: “I don’t know.”

Me: *getting frustrated* “Okay, starting with the first sentence, what does it tell us?”

Interviewer: “I don’t know.”

Me: “Okay, the first sentence says, ‘[Sentence],’ doesn’t it?”

Interviewer: “I don’t know.”

(The entire rest of the interview proceeded like this, with the interviewer never answering anything other than, ‘I don’t know.’ He made me basically go through the entire problem myself without making any attempt to role-play as a student, meaning that I basically just ended up demonstrating the problem all over again but much slower. I should also note that this was a tutoring position for LSAT, which means that all of the students I would have been tutoring would have at least three years of university behind them. If any of their students were as dumb as the interviewer was playing them to be, they don’t deserve to pass the LSAT.)

This Valentine’s, I Will Give You The Moon

, , | Learning | March 15, 2018

(I’m tutoring a third grader with hearing and speech impairment. Because of his condition, he’s shy about making conversation. Thus, when he finds a topic he’s interested in, I let him go on unrelated tangents a bit more often than I would normally, to encourage him to speak up more often. He just got several questions right in a row.)

Student: “Oh, my God. I’m so smart. I know everything!”

Me: “Oh, everything? Hmm… Do you know why the sky is blue?”

Student: “Because the space is blue, so when you see it far away it looks lighter blue, and that’s why the sky is blue.”

Me: “Oh.” *smiles* “Why do seas have waves?”

Student: “Because sometimes there are strong winds and they make waves.”

Me: “Ah. Why does the moon circle the Earth?”

Student: “I don’t know why, but I think I know why. I think it’s because every year, on Valentine’s Day, they get married!”

Won’t Forget These Defining Principles

, , , , , | Learning | January 24, 2018

(My university tutor, an incredibly strict and intimidating old man with a thick Danish accent, is briefing us on our upcoming assignment.)

Tutor: “For the first part of the assignment, you must write definitions for these terms.”

(He writes the terms all out on the board.)

Tutor: “Do not come to me for definitions; I will not tell you. You must find them yourselves, either through research or looking back over your notes.”

(He takes a seat at his desk and sits there, silently staring at as all, for about fifteen seconds before jumping to his feet again.)

Tutor: “You know what? I’ll just write all the definitions up on the board. What are they going to do, fire me?”

(He writes each and every definition up on the board and tells us all to write them down in our notebooks. When I come to actually work on the assignment, I decide to reword the definitions as best I can, so as not to blatantly plagiarise him. The following week he sees my work.)

Tutor: “No, no, no, write down the definitions I gave you the other week, word for word. Do not reword them.”

(I went and reworded them and submitted it the following week. Needless to say, the whole class got 100% on that part of the assignment, and to my knowledge, the tutor never got in trouble for it.)

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