Reflections on tutoring…

(photo credit: Duke Community Engagement)

This semester, I’ve been participating in a program called Partners for Success, as part of a service-learning course here at Duke called “Educational Psychology.” I’ve always been interested in education, and have participated in several programs here at Duke that promote learning and alternative education methods. Partners for Success is a part of the Duke-Durham Neighborhood Partnership, where they aim to connect the school and the city – especially the parts that have a high percentage of at-risk youth.

I’ve been working at West End Community Center with a seven year-old, Armani. It’s been a challenging experience, but rewarding. We write weekly reflections for Partners for Success… here are some excerpts:

February 6 –

I feel that she may be able to do more-than-average work most of the time. Armani, however, cannot sit long enough to do it. The first session was especially difficult, as I did not know which was the best way to approach her attention situation. I also felt that Armani sensed my confusion and tried to take advantage of it. I made note of this and felt better for our second session on Thursday, as I tried to go back and forth between her homework, and “fun” academic activities (such as playing Scrabble, but with the added bonus of using her spelling words). I hope that it will improve in the next couple weeks as both Armani and I adjust to our new tutor-tutee relationship.

February 13 –

She continues to surprise me with her reading and math skills. Last week she had just learned to add and subtract double digit numbers, then to carry over ones to tens. Though she had trouble with it [last] week, this week it has become second-nature to her. She catches on to things I say quickly, and remembers minute details.

February 20 –

Armani and I have started speed reading to increase her fluency. I noticed that when she “speed reads,” she tends to drone on in a sort of monotone. However, as I noted in my previous entry, we often alternate reading pages. Thus, when it was my turn to “speed read,” I enunciated my words with enthusiasm when needed, intonations for questions, etc. I was impressed when on the next page, Armani began to imitate my intonations, and by the fourth page or so she was reading in quite an animated manner. I am noticing more and more that Armani is extremely quick to catch onto implied actions.

February 27 – (a day when Armani was absent, and Jade was a substitute tutee)

The questions that kept coming up in my head were that of Dr. Malone: “What is learning, and how can we best facilitate learning?” Jade proved to me that learning is in fact, different for every student, and that I need to adapt for each student. The drawback of the tutoring for Education 118, I feel, is that though the student may benefit from having consistent tutoring, the tutor may become too comfortable with the student.

March 4 –

I have noticed in the past weeks that Armani has a high need of approval and affiliation. She feeds off of relationships and interactions with others. This is significant because though this is usual[ly] beneficial for her (she is well-liked and popular), it could end in relational aggression, negatively affecting relationships.

March 20 –

As I’ve stated in the past, Armani is an intelligent student, and has no problem actually doing the work herself. However, she is showing more behavioral problems. For example, she will write in her notebook in large letters, and hold her pencil in an apathetic manner, and when done will fling her pencils across the table. Ormrod says to approach moral issues and aggressional issues by encouraging perspective taking, empathy, and pro-social behavior. On Tuesday we addressed with this behavior by talking about how she is feeling, why she does not want to cooperate, and why she throws things. Thankfully, Thursday was better and her behavior was more cooperative.

April 3 –

Armani is an extremely intelligent child, and is often ahead of her peers. This was one of the first instances where we ran into something she was completely unaware of: telling time (analog). It was a great experience for both of us to go through something we had never gone through before.

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