Sunday, April 24, 2011

Student Reflection

by Hannah Perhai

Hannah here, once again! I'm back to blog about my work in S.O.A.R. this semester.

So, in my last post, I promised to discuss the difficulties that I have encountered while volunteering as a tutor for a Spanish-speaking second grader. These challenges come in two categories: language-related and behavior-related.

I'll discuss behavior-related problems first. As with any young child, you're going to have some difficulties here and there keeping your kid in line, especially in an after-school program when the kids are exhausted or hyper after a full day of school. Luckily, my student behaves fairly well. While most of the boys in our class act out (and the girls behave like little angels), my student mostly spaces out. I consider myself lucky in that respect because I don't have to yell at him to stop breaking rules all the time, but when it comes to getting homework and reading done, his lack of attention can be challenging.

I've found that in this situation, I need to remind him constantly of what we will be doing once we finish the task at hand.

Some weeks, I am paired with an extra student because his or her tutor was not able to volunteer that day. These situations are the most trying in getting the kids to behave since they now have a partner in crime. I must assert my authority and threaten consequences if the children do not follow through with my requests. Still, even with these difficult situations, everything has turned out well.

The next set of problems I encountered while tutoring at S.O.A.R. is language-related.  First and foremost, I took this class to practice my Spanish.  While I am expected to do a lot more while in the community, I always try to get a good amount of Spanish-speaking in every week. This means I help my student with his math homework and I discuss our readings in Spanish with him. The problem is that sometimes I am not sure of how to say something, and my student is having trouble understanding the concept anyway. Many times while explaining a math problem, I have felt that my lack of Spanish skills was hindering his ability to learn. Knowing this is the hardest thing about tutoring, and so I find it necessary to use the right balance of Spanish and English to make sure we both understand what is going on.

One of the best moments in my volunteering so far happened last week. I was given an extra student to work with for the day, so I was feeling a bit overwhelmed. Both boys started to work on their math homework, and my new student finished very quickly. Immediately, he wanted to go to the library to read, but I could not let him go unsupervised, and I needed to help my other student finish his homework.
Well, the first child sat down and worked through the problems with my student, explaining each step of the problem without giving away the answers. It truly was inspirational to see one student teaching the other, and it helped me learn how to better work with my own student to see how he explained everything.

So, even though I've had some problems in my volunteer experience so far, I've learned a lot. I hope to continue learning and facing obstacles as the semester comes closer to an end!

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