As a substitute teacher, I've been in positions that have allowed me both to visit with and to observe teachers from a unique perspective. For example, as a resource substitute, I have followed students around the building, or sat and helped a small number of students in a classroom. Because I'm a sub, something of a lower class citizen perhaps, it has seemed to me that many teachers have not been intimidated by my presence and therefore felt free to be themselves. I've heard complaints about the school board, complaints about different children, and complaints about policies. And I've seen both good and bad teaching.
Mostly, though, from these experiences, I have found a definite justification for but also a stronger perspective on my work as a tutor. I've learned, for example, why so many students aren't getting the attention they need and deserve to enable them to fully understand lessons in the classroom. In spite of knowledgeable and caring teachers, with budget cuts that lead to larger class sizes, an increasing population of non-native English speakers, and legal requirements that teachers cover so much material in a given time frame, teachers are forced to present material at a speed that is not conducive to many students’ learning.
Recent research also indicates that every child has a stronger area or modality in which he or she learns best. Some students learn best with many visual cues, for example. Others learn better with auditory aids. While teachers might know how to address each modality individually and would love to be able to approach all these angles, given the time constraints, they cannot. For this reason, many students need outside assistance. It is nothing to be ashamed of, and in fact, many more students than do get help could probably benefit from it.
Tutors not only provide the extra time a student needs on various principles, but they also provide a reinforcement of the teachers’ and parents’ efforts. They demonstrate to the child that their parents are concerned about their education and that they consider it a priority. With such influences, students with tutors are more likely to make their studies a priority as they progress through school. And from the different perspectives they get from the various sources of help--teachers, tutors and parents—students will only be benefited as they enter society where they will encounter and need to respond to many voices and opinions.
Choosing the tutor with whom your child will work best, how often the tutor comes, and for what length of time—a few months, a year, a few years, etc.--can pose additional challenges, but as long as you can budget the extra assistance, I believe it will be money well invested.