The Biggest Problem To Solve Is The Tutor

, | Learning | December 16, 2016

(My university offers a free tutoring program where students who have previously taken any class — and had received at least a B — are hired to tutor students who come in for help in that particular course. I decide to get help for my math course because I’m struggling and can’t afford a private tutor. This happens when I finally get a tutor’s attention.)

Me: “Hi, I really don’t know how to solve this type of problem. How do I solve to get the derivative from this type of equation?”

Tutor #1: “Well… If you don’t know it, you probably don’t have to know it.”

Me: “What?”

Tutor #1: “If you don’t know how to solve it, you probably don’t need to know it for the exam.”

Me: *confused* “But-”

Tutor #1: *wanders off to help another student*

(This confused me, as the part of the problem I didn’t understand was exactly what the question was asking for. I wait for another tutor to finish helping another student before waving her over.)

Me: “Hi, can you please teach me how to solve for this?”

Tutor #2: *looks at the problem* “Oh, you just ignore that part.”

Me: “Ignore it? But then how do I solve it?”

Tutor #2: “I don’t know… Just look up how to do it. You’ll find an example somewhere online.”

Me: “…”

(It’s safe to say I left the tutoring center after that. Here’s hoping I don’t bomb the upcoming exam!)

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They’ll Be All Rite

| Learning | December 4, 2016

(I’m tutoring a student who tends to have trouble with his spelling.)

Student: “Hey, Teacher, how do you spell ‘write?’”

Me: “Which one?”

Student: “You know, w-r-i-t-e. Write.”

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Don’t Be Para-Fazed By It

, | Learning | July 22, 2016

(I work in a campus learning center as a tutor. One thing tutors commonly experience is students who want you to give them the answers or fix their work for them so they can turn it in for a better grade without doing any work themselves. This is one of the reasons we only help students for 15 minutes at a time with the sessions spaced out by rotation, so they don’t become dependent. I am helping a student with a simple reading comprehension exercise and explaining the instructions.)

Me: “Okay, so this exercise is about paraphrasing. The instructions tell you to compare these three phrases to the original and identify which one is the best, which one is too similar to actually count as a paraphrase, and which one contains totally different or incorrect information. Okay?”

Student #1: “Okay.” *pointing* “What should I put for this one?”

Me: “Let’s compare it to the original sentence and decide which one you think it is.”

(The student grumbles at this, but reads through and marks them all “B” for best.)

Me: “Okay, I think you misunderstood. You are going to use each answer once for each problem without repeating. And ‘best’ means ‘better than all the others’, so by definition there can’t be more than one ‘best.’ So let’s try again.”

Student #1: “So I have to erase it and start over?!”

Me: “Well, yes, the problem is done incorrectly. The instructions are to use each answer once. Let’s start by looking for the one that is too different. Which phrase is saying something the first one doesn’t?”

Student #1: *after reading through the phrases again* “This one?”

Me: “Good, we’ve eliminated one.”

Student #1: *marks down ‘B’ for best* “Okay, now what do I put for the next one?”

Me: “Um, you marked that one as the best.”

Student #1: “Yeah, I think it’s the best.”

Me: “…I thought we just agreed that it was saying something totally different than the original.”

Student #1: “Yeah, so?”

(I explain paraphrasing and the instructions again, pointing out the “B”,”TS” and “D” he is supposed to use to mark it. Finally, he seems to understand and marks down a “D”.)

Me: “Okay, so let’s look at the other two. Which one is too similar?”

Student #1: “I think it’s this one. It tells us all the same things as this one up here.”

Me: “Well, remember, it is supposed to contain the same information. If it tells us something completely different then it wouldn’t be a paraphrase. Try comparing the wording between one and two to the original phrase and see which is more similar.”

Student #1: *staring at the page for a moment* “But this is telling us the same things.”

Me: “Yes, a paraphrase is supposed to give you the same information, just worded differently. Does the other example also have the same information?”

Student #1: “I don’t know!”

Me: “Well, try reading it and see—”

Student #1: “Why won’t you just help me? After all that time making me go through the problem would it have been so hard just to tell me I was supposed to mark it as D?”

Me: “I am trying to help, by explaining the instructions and how to follow them so you’ll know what to do when you move on to the other problems.”

Student #1: “Well, if I understood the instructions then I could just do it myself!”

Me: “Exactly. That is the goal. That’s why I’m explaining them to you.”

Student #1: “I came here for help, but you just act like you know everything! I’m never coming back for tutoring and it will be your fault if I fail!”

Me: “I’m afraid your success is not our responsibility, especially if we are not involved. We’re just here to help you do the work, but your grade depends on your effort.”

Student #1: “Whatever. Thanks for nothing!”

Me: “You’re welcome. Have a nice day.”

Student #2: “Geez, do you get people expecting you to hold their hand all the time?”

Me: “I’m afraid my code of ethics prevents me from answering that question.”

Student #2: “Gotcha.”

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Teaching Them A Lesson

, | Learning | July 4, 2016

(I provide tuition services to both kids and adults. I mainly teach English as a second language, but I also teach art. One of the customers, who hired me to teach her kid both art and English, wants me to come three times a week and is far away from where I live. I have my trusty Vespa, but it becomes a problem if I drive 25 KM only to find out no one’s home. Every time don’t get notification that a client cancelled, I just go, and all of my clients know this. Around the end of the school year, this happens four times in a row. Each time after I call them for explanation they are somewhere else and apologise, saying they are sure they will be home next time. Rinse and repeat three more times. Obviously, after the last time (I should have done it after the first but eh…) I text the mother, telling her that due to the fact that she failed to cancel again and that I lost fuel going there and back, I will not arrive unless she confirms she will be there. I also send an email, to which she simply emails back “OK.” The day of the class approaches; I call her to confirm. No one’s picking up. I call her son; he’s also not picking up. The day of the class I do the same thing, about three hours before class, then two hours before, then one hour. No one picks up so I text them both that since they’re not responding and not confirming, I’m not going to come. No one calls back each time, either. At the exact hour the class was to start, I get a call from the mother.)

Mother: “Where the h*** are you?!”

Me: “I called and texted you, I even confirmed in email, that because of your neglect as far as cancelling classes goes and the fact that I lost more in fuel than you pay me per hour anyway, I won’t arrive unless you confirm the lesson.”

Mother: “I have no email!”

Me: “You replied to it.”

Mother: “That wasn’t me!”

Me: “Let me just check… [email address], is this you?”

Mother: “Yes, but I didn’t get it?”

Me: “You replied to it.”

Mother: “…”

Me: “…”

Mother: “So when can you be here?”

Me: “I can’t, not today. I have three hours to the next lesson and getting to you now, conducting the class and coming back, I won’t make the next appointment.”

Mother: “Cancel it! I’m paying you to do this!”

Me: “The appointment is in a school, with a group. Even if I wanted to, I wouldn’t be able to on such short notice, not to mention I don’t want to, because that would be very, very rude.”

Mother: “I’m paying you!”

Me: “I’m sorry, but you’re not paying enough for me to deal with this. I don’t think I will be coming over anymore; you’ll have to find another tutor for your son.”

Mother: “But I’m PAYING YOU!”

Me: “Goodbye.”

(I blocked her incoming calls.)

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Won’t Like The Shape Of Things To Come

| Learning | June 27, 2016

(I tutor kids between 8-13 years old. A boy needs help with math, and they are learning perimeters. The first word-problem is basically asking how far would he have walked if he walk around a path in the shape of a square. I show him how to do that.)

Me: “Okay, did you understand the concept and how to answer the questions?”

Boy: “Yes.”

Me: *I want to check he understood so I ask* “Before we answer the next question, what would the answer be if instead of a square, the path is in the shape of a rectangle?” *I drew a rectangle*

Boy: “I don’t know! This is so hard!”

(I teach him how to do it.)

Me: “Okay, what if the dimensions are different?” *this time I drew the rectangle but with different dimensions*

Boy: “But that’s different from what you just showed me! I hate math!” *walks out*

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