It is important when tutoring that you don’t let your client take advantage of you. It is not fair to you when the client has come in and they are not prepared and they expect you to teach them everything. In those situations it is important to actively listen to the client to understand where they are coming from therefore the client doesn’t think you don’t get what they are going through. It is also important to be firm. We are not there to replace going to class, or replace their professors. In these situations we should tell our clients that they need to go over and review the book or their notes and we will answer any questions they have on the material. We can even go over the material with them so if a question arises we can be there to help them through it.
One experience I had with a client was, she was late, she wasn’t prepared, and she came into the session asking me to teach her the sections. She didn’t really have any specific question she just wanted me to explain everything to her. So I told her we could go over the book together, and then when I was explaining something she had a question on she started nodding off. This completely frustrated me but I regained her attention by saying “does that make sense”
I think an important thing for us to do is deflect negativity. Often times the students will be frustrated with their teacher, or frustrated that they don’t understand a problem. When this happens they may take their frustration out on us. Therefore it is important for us not to bite back at them. We need to stay calm and help them identify what the problem is. Then hopefully they will calm down and we will be able to help them through he problem
That’s one thing I noticed about Margaux as she helped her student with problems from the GMAT prep book. She often started her comments/questions with “So…” “So, what are they asking?” “So we know they’re asking about time…but what about cost?” Or some variations, like, “Can you say really quickly how you might work it out?” (Isn’t that step 8 of the Tutor Cycle?) and responding to the oft-asked questions, “Am I right?” and “Is this right?” with “It could be. We’ll find out.” Getting the student to do most of the thinking, assessing the next steps, seeing if she ‘s right or wrong–making her more of an independent learner.
Margaux’s student client was especially good at thinking out loud as she went through the steps. I commented/complimented her on this, and she said she thought Margaux had helped her develop that in previous sessions. It certainly helps Margaux see what she’s doing, where she’s going in the right and in the wrong directions. We know that many college students who drop out of (i.e. not persist in) science, math and engineering majors complain about professors working at the board, not talking through what they are doing. These think-alouds are good for the tutor and student client alike… and Margaux’s session was a model to follow in this respect, too.
I’d seen Margaret’s very thorough peer tutoring notes forms for papers in CMC 100 and 200–with comments on themes in the paper, the complex thesis using them, the hook and conclusion, and formatting details. I was curious to see how she managed the reading, writing and talking in a session, so I observed her on Monday.
I was struck by how Margaret connected both with the client (“Oh yeah, that was a film class we had together”) and with the ideas she saw in the paper (“Dr. TIllman will love that.”) The client asked how to paraphrase, and Margaret showed her how she was doing it in her draft (“I see you’re using a lot of theory” and “You take a quote, introduce it, state it, restate it in your own words”). Lots of give and take, as Margaret made her way through the draft, section by section, reading silently but then commenting on this or that, reading a bit out loud, asking questions to get the client talking.
In our debriefing, Margaret said this client’s paper was not as far along as others she’d seen, so she had to spend more time looking at the themes the client had written in the beginning of the paper–the big picture. And the discussion of what was before and after a quote was to help her, since she had to do the same with the rest of the quotes she had in her outline–to make them her own. She had to spend more time with what the client would do in the 24 hours before the paper was due than she had with other people in the class, tweaking what they had already written.
I said I thought her use of the form was masterful–writing a bit about each little discussion before moving on the the next section. Thanks, Margaret! You certainly earned your $6.79 that hour. 😛
BTW, I gave Margaret the top copy of the sit-in form, which has some suggestions about what to look for, but also has lots of space to write whatever you want. If you observe someone, pls. use this form. It’s in the bottom left of the mail cubbies.