I was contacted to provide tutoring for a bright home schooled boy, age14. The purpose of the tutoring was to review algebra topics so he would do well on a junior college, math placement test. For this tutoring I used the study guides available on-line at a local junior college. I met with the boy for three sessions, 2 hours each. We went over 60 algebra problems from the study guides. The comment from his mother, “Andy's score was high enough to get him into the math classes just below College Algebra which is where I wanted to start him. So we appreciate all your efforts on his part.”
I have been involved in an in-school mentoring program, YouthFriends, for four years. Three years ago I began working with a boy in the second grade. He was already very good at addition. When he learned that I had been a Math major in college, he insisted that I teach him multiplication. To help him begin to understand multiplication, I used round disks (like poker chips) to illustrate first 2 x 2, 2 x3, ... 2 x 9. We then moved to the multiplication of 3's. In just a few weeks, meeting once a week, he had mastered the 2's and 3's, just as the school year was ending.
This relationship with this boy is continuing, he will be in the fifth grade during the 2012-2013 school year. We have focused on many subjects in the last three years including the Revolutionary War and the early Presidents of the United States.
As I tutor special needs students or those seeking further career development, I find students who's progress is limited by their expectations that they will fail when they attempt to do things that are unfamiliar to them. In general, this is called "fear of failure". To help students overcome this, I either paint a mental picture or draw a sketch of a stream (like found in the woods). Between the banks of the stream are a number of stepping stones, each which must be reached to get to the other side of the stream (the success that is desired). Just as in life, some of the stepping stones in the stream are slippery and in our first attempts, we may fall into the water (failure in life). However, with personal persistence and an "I CAN" attitude, we can be successful in reaching the other side of the stream (our personal goal in life).
As a tutor or coach, where do we begin when working with a new student that has a less than positive attitude? In my own experience, I was asked to begin tutoring/mentoring a 16 year old boy with a combination of Aspergers, OCD, and ADD. I wasn't sure how the first session would go, so my only preparation was one sheet of paper with the words, "I CAN". After talking with the student for a while about what he wanted to get out of our sessions, I handed him that sheet of paper. He responded positively to my suggestion that a positive, "I CAN" attitude can be a first stepping stone to change.
I have met with this student many times since that first meeting. As a result of our "I CAN" discussions, he has become a better contributor to the life of his family, substantially improved his school grades from a B/C/D to a solid B in all academic subjects, landed his first part time job, and (with the help of a very patient school science teacher) great reduced...
The following is a letter of recommendation written by the Mother of a special needs student that I have been working with in the area of "life skills" coaching:
To whom it may concern,
It is an honor to write a letter recommendation for Mr. Rod H. He is a dynamic, intelligent, patient and insightful teacher / tutor. He is knowledgeable in his field and communicates his expertise well.
Mr. H. has worked multiple times with our son with Aspergers, OCD and ADD. One of Mr. H.'s many people skills is that he has a keen sense of knowing just when to "push" our son to get more out of him and when to "back off" still keeping our son on task, making the best use of their time together. This is not an easy task. Mr. H. brings in a nice mix of book, real world and people knowledge that has been a great source of support for our son and our family. I do not hesitate to recommend him for general or special education students.
If you would like to speak...
A positive attitude can be key to improving a student's learning success. A 14 year old, at risk, boy that I have mentored accepted my advice to have a positive attitude toward this teachers and the subject materials. The change in the boy's demeanor was noticed by the teachers and his completion of the required work began to improve immediately as well as his overall grades. Along with the positive attitude, I also encourage students to set both short and long term goals. A positive attitude, defined goals, and improving in small incremental steps can be the key to success in any subject area and in life in general.