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Print, Script, or Ten Finger Typing?

My first WyzAnt tutoring student was actually signed up to learn handwriting, both print and script. Back then, only "writing" was offered, so it was assumed to include all aspects. Handwriting, now, is listed under "elementary education", however, back in the day, it was considered a proper business class skill. The better one's handwriting, the higher one was expected to be or to rise in the business world, where power and finance were located. I grew up in the shadow of that historical approach, inspired by a mother with beautiful script.  It led to some backlash among peers, once I entered the world of medicine, moreso among surgeons in general, but the nurses and other support staff loved how they could quickly, clearly and accurately read my patient care notes and orders.  Some twelve years ago, ethical leaders in the medical world began promoting legible writing to decrease patient care errors. Those who knew me used... read more

Exam Stress

Remember adrenalin, the "fight or flight" hormone? Now, think in terms of evolution: We have progressed as a civilization far faster than we could keep up with, as a species. Our physiology still goes on alert for imminent danger close by. When the brain connects just the right neurons to set off that danger signal, adrenalin is released, floods our systems, and gives our brains two choices with no time to think, only to react: Beat the lights out of the adversary or run away from the danger. Of course, neither option applies to taking standardized exams. Who are you going to beat up? No one! Where can you run? No where! "OMG", says the neuro-endocrine system, "More adrenalin! The situation's worse than we thought!!!!" <Pause. Take a deep breath. Go do something else, for a minute, something soothing or mechanical, like washing dishes, playing Sudoku or solitaire, and then come back.> Just as there are quick-trip switches... read more

How Expectations Matter

On September 17, 2012, Morning Edition (on National Public Radio, or "NPR") shared this article: "Teachers' Expectations Can Influence How Students Perform." I recommend it. Here's the link: http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/09/17/161159263/teachers-expectations-can-influence-how-students-perform#more. So, what are my expectations? That all can succeed, given sufficient support and guidance. 1. Students who believe they can't do something, after being shown and walked through examples, often can, when the tables are turned. Just ask an Algebra II student of mine who had to teach me quadratic equations to finally appreciate that he got it. 2. Students so afraid of failing that their minds freeze up and feel empty often suddenly know their subjects, when the tension and fear are broken by the surprise of a good laugh. 3. Perhaps most important of all, as suggested in the article, students are encouraged by the reflection of their own potential in... read more

I Guarantee...

When asked for a guarantee of outcome, a surgical colleague of mine tells his patients, "I guarantee my work but not your parts." Before illness disabled me from practicing, patients whose traumatic injuries were substantial, for whom a perfect outcome was impossible, would hear, "You can't make chicken soup from chicken poop, but sometimes, you can make pretty good fertilizer." The same goes for education. Children need structure for security, but too much stifles growth and backs up within, disturbing their ability to focus, concentrate, study and learn. So, while children in poverty might have unhealthy home environments, poor diets, and even danger on a day to day basis, even children at the opposite end of the spectrum can suffer. If their schedules are overbooked, to make them into over-achievers, a breaking point can be reached, hurting their grades and backfiring on their chances of entering the best colleges. Add the stress of impending SAT... read more

Ratings

This post applies to all subjects, not just the three listed. That's because a tutor's rating average, posted on the profile page, is a conglomerate average of all subjects that tutor teaches. It's not broken down into subject subtotals. A perfect score of 5.0 in the ratings comes from great students and parents who appreciate when a tutor goes above and beyond the call of duty. One parent used the word "ideal." Sadly, he applied a 4 star rating to the very lesson he described as "ideal" when questioned. You see, I can't know where to improve without asking, so rather than merely ignoring the 4 star rating, I inquired the basis of it. WyzAnt won't change a rating unless the rater addresses WyzAnt directly to do so. Sadly, that parent chose to remove the rating rather than allow it to concur with his first-hand impression. And where did that impression come from? I tutor by combining what I know of each subject with what I learn about the educational... read more

Exam Stress

About a month before the final exam, I was tapped to tutor a student whose math grades had taken a nose dive. In addition to finding and filling educational holes, so my student could solve the required math questions, I realized there was another critical issue: new onset exam stress. One might even call it early PTSD. Something had to be done, and there was no time for counseling or seeing a doctor to start on some (unnecessary) medicine. The entire school year depended on passing this final exam! So, short days before the final, I taught my student a novel and enjoyable technique to instantaneous block the fear, then focus on the exam, and it worked. Not only that, my student made the effect contagious to his classmates, possibly helping their final exam grades, too. I was very proud of this student when I heard the exam was over, the score was solid passing, and the class was in on the stress breaker. The secret? You'd almost have to see it to believe it...

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