When a Tutor Gets Bored Continued…

She goes traveling! At least this one does.

Traveling is that other things that gets me up in the morning (beside my tutoring job of course) and gets me excited about the day.

I love planning day trips, anticipating new places and new eats. I crave adrenaline of adventure and the unknown.

So, in honor of this high calling, I have decided to travel to Europe this summer for a couple of weeks.

*gasp* That means I won’t be teaching for a short period of time! Well, have no fear, my students understand. In fact, the math students are excited about a break too.

For practically the whole month of July I’ll be exploring Scotland! The one place in the world my heart yearns to see, will be the destination of my summer.

Right now, my free time is consumed in packing lists, travel itineraries, and dreaming.

I can’t believe that this will be part of my life. That I will get to tell people, “I went to Scotland.” Well, right now I get to tell people, “I’m going to Scotland!”

I assure you there will be stories shared of my adventure soon enough. Stay tuned.

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When a Tutor Gets Bored…

She applies herself to tour guide jobs, freelance writing, and painting on walls.

Why? Because apparently a tutor can get bored.

This is mostly due to the fact college tests are being delayed in the mail, and cannot be completed at a desired goal date.

And so, the plug goes on: must remain busy, must remain busy, must remain busy.

But at the same time, it’s good to have quiet time. Yes, a teacher can be quiet. At least this one can.

And I promise that I will always enjoy being a teacher above anything else, even though I may become distracted with other pleasurable things such as tour guide jobs, freelance writing and painting on walls.

A tutor needs a creative outlet as well. If her energies are too concentrated, then she becomes narrow-sighted and lacks dimension. Believe me, this is a true statement. I have become dormant before in previous tasks. (pre-tutor days).

Do you run yourself dry? Where do you go to for re-fueled energy?

Teacher “On Call”

“Hey, excuse me, could you come to our house today at 2pm?”

These types of messages find their way to my phone very easily these days. And I really do like it! It just strikes me as funny.

EMTs, Firefighters, nurses, midwives… the list goes on. The typical hours for these types of jobs are “on call.” But a tutor? I guess my type of tutor job makes the “on call” list as well!

But really, this is what makes my job so special. My job is not built around MY schedule, but around my STUDENT’S schedules.

That’s the way I like it. But still, it’s funny.

Why do I think it’s funny? Only because the job of teacher makes the “steady job lists” like engineer, construction, and CEO.  A tutor however makes the “on call” job list.

It’s exciting, never dull, always moving, never changing. It sort of moves like one of those microscopic amoebas, stretching out new arms and legs and inchingly accruing new specimens.

I’m not really like an amoeba, but that’s why it’s funny.

Does your vocation make you happy? Or does there need to be an attitude adjustment?

 

A Tutor’s Travel Guide: A Day Trip to the Zoo

Taking a day trip to the zoo is only optional.

A tutor doesn’t always have the opportunity to take a couple of their students to the zoo for an educational outing. But when you mention to your students that you have a membership to the zoo and they ask about you taking them every week before you finally take them, then it’s just about time to set aside a day just for the zoo.

It took us about a month to find the right day and right time to go to the zoo. And today was that day.

When I pulled up to their house at 8 o’clock in the morning in my shiny Lumina they stumbled out of the house in rather a grumpy mood. Apparently they don’t get up this early.

Although we humans may not typically be morning people, I really believe animals do better in the morning. So, we must make those sacrifices to see happy animals.

We may not be so active in the morning, but the animals sure are.

The Jaguar turned her head and glared at us as we passed by, the Gibbons fiercely played with each other, practically disregarding the fact that there might possibly be an audience.

The Cheetahs pensively paced in their cage as the crowds started to gather and the Lion just sat regally posing in from of his pride. Almost as if he was anticipating the camera flashes.

About two hours after entering the zoo it was time to exit. The crowds were starting to gather, and the sun was beginning to get hot. My eleven-year-old was also limping because she forgot you have to wear socks with tennis shoes.

At the close of the day we celebrated our successful zoo trip by purchasing some buckets of froyo. While consuming our frozen desserts my two students wrote short summaries about their day trip to the zoo.

Zoo trips are fun; we might even do it again this summer. It’s especially fun when you get froyo afterward.

You should try it sometime.

A Tutor’s Travel Guide: Episode 2

 

The “plot” occurs between the moment of exiting the car and entering the house. I realize that as I’m approaching the front door that I’m about to enter into the life of an individual.

My students are important to me. As much as I want to “manipulate the equation” and make them a better kid, I mostly desire that they be provided with the tools that will change them from the inside out.

Like the cunning Merlin I want to conquer their giants for them. But in all reality, they must learn to fight their own battles. The only way I can do that is to teach Arthur to unsheathe the sword for himself because one day he will be a mighty warrior and leader; knights will pause in their musings to lend him an ear.

So, when I enter my student’s house I’m crossing a threshold. This is their ground, their material, their minds, their lives.

A tutor who travels to other’s homes travels on un-used time. That time spent in going to another person’s house to teach another person’s son or daughter is fresh with potential, and of course anxiety.

Will I say the right words? Will they understand me? Am I making progress?

Such questions plague me, and yet they constantly keep me on track. Instead of swerving too far to the left or to the right, my worn tires keep me on course.

I learn so much from my mistakes, but I also learn much from my travel. Traveling to my student’s house allows me to think about what I will say, and to pray for my student’s enlightenment on the material at hand.

Occasionally, there are some trips, and falls; but how can a person learn new things if they’ve never picked themselves up?

 

 

A Tutor’s Travel Guide: Episode 1

I have a unique job. There’s really nothing that special about a tutor, but the way I tutor is quite special. It involves driving to the family’s house and spending the afternoon there. Just teaching algebra. And it’s an absolute blast.

I can’t say that every tutor job is a blast. Sometimes a whole session goes by where the math problem is just as confusing as it was when we started. You see, I like to work the problems out with my students. My method of teaching includes teacher participation, as well as student participation.

That in itself is a unique concept.

This approach is an automatic bridge between the two quantities of teacher and student. But this is distracting from my main topic, which is: A TRAVELING TUTOR.

Opening Scene:

My image of “traveling tutor” is very different from what it actually is. My dream of traveling tutorship is that of a live-in tutor. A tutor who stays with the family and travels the countryside with them, teaches their child/ children and gets to participate in the family.

That’s not at all what I’m doing, but I’d LOVE to do something to that effect. In the future of course.

Characters:

  • Myself
  • The Chevy Lumina
  • A grid pad

And yes, each of those characters have feelings, they have a story, and they carry a history. But the background for each of those characters is for a different blog post.

Intro statement:

It is plain and simple.

I drop into the Lumina, chug down the road (at around 55 to 60 mph), travel between 1 mile to 17 miles, depending on who I’m teaching that day, and arrive at the person’s doorstep (usually a few minutes before starting time).

In other words, my tutor job is rather unique. I have never heard anyone else doing this sort of thing. But, you know, it’s good to be different.

The “plot line” to my “Tutor Travel Guide” will be due NEXT WEEK. Hope you can tune in.

 

A Fresh Approach to Algebra

Growing up I was never inclined to math problems. However, I greatly enjoyed solving other problems such as how much mud and water I should mix together to create the right consistency for my mud pies. And so on.

Although problem solving is a natural and every day process, I was never really able to connect the rudimentary concepts to my math pages. The conversion chart between the rainbows in the sky, and the white pages of math books was non-existent. Or so I thought.

Now, as a prospective teacher, tutor and student I find there is great number of things in common between all things Sherlock Holmes and all things grid and paper.

I may be far from expert on such things as logical fallacies and syllogisms, but I sure can spot a red herring chasing the strawman up a fast flowing river. If you catch my drift.

Sometimes, I enjoy watching the Fox News channel just to see if I can catch one of those gorgeous newscasters making a part to whole argument. Because, you know, if one of them makes a mistake, they all do. Right? Ok, not really.

Back to the algebra premise: so algebra is part of everyday living. And it’s taken me too many years to actually see it.

NUMERO UNO

While teaching one of my students how to read and cypher algebraic word problems I came across a new thought: why not use the tangible to describe the intangible.

Oftentimes, those who struggle with math are naturally artistic, creative people, thusly it concludes that using pictures or drawings to illustrate a math problem would actually help, not hinder their dominantly right-sided mind.

NUMERO DOS

The second thing I’ve learned about tutoring/teaching math is that those who struggle with multiplication tables and fractions may have an easier time understanding higher math. That’s weird. But believe me it weirdly works.

So I tested this on my youngest math student. She’s 12 years old and she can’t remember her tables to save her life. But recently I’ve tried presenting real life scenarios such as: draw a dress on a rack with a price tag. And add a sale to the price tag. Then find the percentage of the sale from the original price of the dress and subtract. If you can believe this, I think she REALLY enjoyed going shopping with her pen and paper.

NUMERO TRES

Don’t put a name on the level of math you are trying to complete.

Don’t tell the student, “Hurry up with this page, you’re only getting through fractions, when you should be doing algebra.” Likewise, don’t tell a younger student who should only be doing fraction that you are actually teaching them geometry.

These are just a few new approaches to tutoring/teaching math to secondary level students. I sort of stumbled on most of these tips myself. Believe it or not.

What has life told you about the things you don’t like? Have you found a way to enjoy the things you don’t naturally favor?

Life Is Not About Taking a Test, Or Is It?

Learning and education is not without test-taking. What are tests really? Testing is a form of evaluation in which the teacher or evaluator can judge the information absorption of the student.

So, on that note, is testing a valuable concept for educators? I’ve always thought of tests as a pressure point, or a pinnacle in which you either pass, or fail. If you fail, you are not going to move forward; if you pass then you just go onto the next test.

Although I have a natural aversion to test-taking I’m beginning to reach a level of maturity in the belief in tests.

Before taking a test you, as a student, study very long and laborious hours so that you can achieve the highest possible grade on the test. All of those hours of study do not mean a thing if they are not tested.

Whatever a person does in life, they WILL be tested in that area. Sooner or later, you will have to either put your learning into action, or test the quality of your education. This is the true test: are you receiving as much as you can from the material, and can that information be applied?

Test-taking really is over-rated, but in the end, it’s the only definitive line that separates you from those who are perpetual students, and those who will really do something with their education.

The real test is when all of those weeks of study become legitimate. It’s almost like signing for a marriage license where the union between two people becomes legal. Then after you obtain your license, then the next test is the actual marriage.

Every stage of learning must be assessed by a test.

Testing is not really a PASS or FAIL, it’s an EPITOME. Once you’ve climbed this mountain, you can climb the next.

I really don’t like tests. But after passing a few, I realize their importance in my life. And after failing a few, I realize the importance of studying for the test.

You must prepare for the test, so that when the time comes, you will be ready with an answer.

Is there a test in your life right now? Were you prepared for it? And if not, what can you do to improve the situation?

Car Problems

I love driving. I drive everywhere. The strange thing about my little Chevy Lumina is that the driver’s seat is extremely uncomfortable but I’m told that the back seat is like a couch… that’s unfair.

When I started tutoring I met my students at the library, but now I go to their house. Thankfully all of them live in the same general area. I enjoy meeting them at their house because they are automatically calm, relaxed, but also alert.

The downside to all of this driving is that I am running my little car down into the dust. We call the Lumina “grandma’s hot rod” because its previous owner was Grandma and in another lifetime it would have been a hot rod.

“Grandma’s hot rod” also has some character. The primary feature is a huge dent in the driver’s door. It wasn’t my fault. It actually happened when a nearly blind neighbor backed into the car because he thought it was invisible. Maybe if he backed in far enough it would disappear? We never heard from his insurance so I’ll never know.

The secondary featurette is an artistic pile of duct tape on the rear lights… quite a display.

But through all of this I am happy to say that I love this car. The engine starts when I turn the key. The coolant only occasionally dries up. The brakes work just fine, and it moves when I press the accelerator. Not very fast, but it moves.

I surprise myself with these optimistic thoughts. It’s rare that I actually voice my optimism, but it’s a positive thought all the same. A person should find the simple things in life, and be thankful for them. It’s like medicine for the heart.

I’m just happy I have a car.

What simple commodity are you thankful for? Please share.