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Think I'm right

Discussion in 'Private tutors' started by angiebabe, May 2, 2012.

  1. angiebabe

    angiebabe New commenter

    Well I think I'm right but then again I'm not really sure!
    I'm tutoring a yr4 boy for literacy (have posted here before about high expectations of mother). I've been with him since Christmas. Mum explained that he is a very sensitive soul, not really into sport, constitution is not the greatest (upset tummy often etc).
    It was difficult at first but we seemed to be getting on fine. Mum gradually took more of a back seat by not checking everything he did for me. However, his work for the last 2 sessions has been appalling in my book. I told him last week that I was quite cross about his failure to complete the homework task satisfactorily and that it was not to happen again. I made him correct his own work so that he could see for himself that his well capable of much better work. We moved on and the lesson was quite productive.
    This week he has again given me unacceptable work. If he was in my class at school I would certainly have raised my voice and told him in no uncertain terms that I was not prepared to accept his attitude. Cannot do that in the home situation so I spoke to him sternly and tried to move on. He started to silently cry. Now I am not a mean person and I hate to see anyone upset but I'm afraid this little boy is getting the better of me.
    I really want to tell the mother that he needs a good talking to and that he should buck up his ideas or else he wont be getting some 'reward'.
    She asked me on the way out how he was getting on and I told her that whilst I thought we had made good progress the last 2 weeks had not been great. She said that it was probably because in the previous week he had an upset tummy and that today he was tired because he got home from cubs late but that she would have a word with him about his work/attitude. I really wanted to tell her that her son is quite idle and not in the least interested in any of the 'fun' activities I try to do with him.
    Arrggghhhhhhh.
     
  2. angiebabe

    angiebabe New commenter

    Well I think I'm right but then again I'm not really sure!
    I'm tutoring a yr4 boy for literacy (have posted here before about high expectations of mother). I've been with him since Christmas. Mum explained that he is a very sensitive soul, not really into sport, constitution is not the greatest (upset tummy often etc).
    It was difficult at first but we seemed to be getting on fine. Mum gradually took more of a back seat by not checking everything he did for me. However, his work for the last 2 sessions has been appalling in my book. I told him last week that I was quite cross about his failure to complete the homework task satisfactorily and that it was not to happen again. I made him correct his own work so that he could see for himself that his well capable of much better work. We moved on and the lesson was quite productive.
    This week he has again given me unacceptable work. If he was in my class at school I would certainly have raised my voice and told him in no uncertain terms that I was not prepared to accept his attitude. Cannot do that in the home situation so I spoke to him sternly and tried to move on. He started to silently cry. Now I am not a mean person and I hate to see anyone upset but I'm afraid this little boy is getting the better of me.
    I really want to tell the mother that he needs a good talking to and that he should buck up his ideas or else he wont be getting some 'reward'.
    She asked me on the way out how he was getting on and I told her that whilst I thought we had made good progress the last 2 weeks had not been great. She said that it was probably because in the previous week he had an upset tummy and that today he was tired because he got home from cubs late but that she would have a word with him about his work/attitude. I really wanted to tell her that her son is quite idle and not in the least interested in any of the 'fun' activities I try to do with him.
    Arrggghhhhhhh.
     
  3. What is the reason for him having a tutor? Does he agree he needs one? Where is his mum during the tuition? I know you won't want her breathing down his neck the whole time but if it happens again that he's not trying hard enough, why not bring her in so you can all have a calm discussion about it?

    I'm not completely clear what it is that he's not doing well enough. Is it just his homework? If so, is it that big a deal? I don't set homework so I may have a different opinion of this. What is it about his work that is unacceptable? What do you think are the reasons behind it?
     
  4. angiebabe

    angiebabe New commenter

    Mum is in another room. He has a tutor because Mum's believes he has not progressed enough since KS1 where he was apparently doing very well. (He has another tutor who just sets work for him from a book, mostly spelling).
    I do feel sorry for him in a way because of the pressure he is under. However, I was asked to concentrate on his handwriting plus comprehension. This I have tried to do but in novel ways so that he can relax and learn. The homework I have set for the past 2 weeks have been comprehensions 1) for the Iron Man which we are reading and discussing together, about 6 questions. 2) a piece about Florence Nightingale (so that I could tell a funny story about her name but also to stretch him, about 6 questions again.
    I had spent several weeks emphasising capital lettersr and full stops in a fun way but he has now chosen to forget all about them. The presentation of his work is much worse than when I first started with him and the mis-spellings are nearly every other word. I'm not sure the reasons behind all this except to say that perhaps he is just not focussing. I try to keep him engaged and make the learning less of a chore so that he will enjoy me coming for his own sake. On the other hand it could be a ploy to get rid of me, hoping I'll give up (I'm sorely tempted as I feel I'm taking their money under false pretences).
     
  5. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Occasional commenter

    I am at the moment tutoring a Y3 boy in english and mathematics, 1/2 hour each in a one hour session. I find he is at Level 1 in all ATs of the NC in both subjects, and his ability to sustain effort on his own does not extend beyond a minute or two. His mother tries with him, but admits she loses patience, but then she is not a teacher.

    At the end of his last hour with me, I said to him, "Well done, but that was hard work, wasn't it?". He agreed, and then I said to him, "Yes, and it was hard work for me too, I think we are both ready for a break!", and I meant it.

    I enjoy driving, but I concentrate completely on the road, I do not hold conversations with my passengers. As I worked with this boy, and noticed his developing lack of attention after a minute or two, no matter how much the activity was a fun one or possibly enjoyable, I had to interject with either my voice (in the kindliest way), or a new idea, or even a total change of activity. Only this way could we survive the hour, never once did I have to threaten some sort of punishment (or absence of reward), which I think is only counter-productive.

    Concerning laziness or deliberately avoiding the task in hand, like you I spoke to him sternly. I told him not to mess me about, that he might get away with it in his classroom at school, but with me he has my full attention and I will pick up on it immediately if he tries to shirk or fool about. With him even, I likened it to a driving test, where the instructor watches the learner driver and every look and move they make. However I assured him that this was not a test, and I was there by his side every moment to give him some help if he needed it.

    The last activity for the hour was an english comprehension exercise (Y2 Level One standard for him). I helped him with his reading every step of the way so that he could understand and enjoy the story, and then helped him read the questions, getting him to talk the answers to me, not from memory but by referring back to the printed story sheet to find the answer (he began by trying to answer them from memory which sometimes worked, but I told him in comprehension that was not necessary), and then getting him to write the answers down, correcting immediately if he made a mistake. We managed a sustained 20 minutes with this task, and did not complete the whole exercise, as he ought to be doing at this level on his own. However, he enjoyed it, was pleased with his own success, and so was I, but we were both exhausted.

    For me, it was just as hard work as if I had had a class of 30 eight year olds for an hour! However, very enjoyable, very successful, and after more of this I hope that he will develop the idea that at some stage he has got to start doing this on his own.

    They say all teachers should have patience, but in one-to-one we sometimes need an abundance of it!
     
  6. angiebabe

    angiebabe New commenter

    Your method of doing comprehensions sounds very similar to mine but I think you misunderstood my post when you said:-
    Only this way could we survive the hour, never once did I have to
    threaten some sort of punishment (or absence of reward), which I think
    is only counter-productive.


    I use lots of rewards, stickers, verbal, golden box (with a treat inside at the end of the lesson, last week was a rubber/pencil sharpner) etc. I have never threatened punishment. I was just saying that perhaps he should be offered more a carrot by his parents to work hard in these one-to-one opportunities eg he seems interested in cricket (not really a sporty boy) so he is starting cricket lessons soon. So perhaps that should have been a carrot for him.
    I too discussed at the end of the lesson how it went with him but he was so unresponsive that I just asked him to think about his attitude and behaviour for next week as I really believe he is more capable than the work he is presenting, which is why I was brought in in the first place.
     
  7. It sounds very difficult and frustrating. He does seem genuinely distressed by all of this (the silent crying would indicate so) and I'm at a bit of a loss what to say. Everything that comes to mind, I'm sure you'll be doing already. For example, if he likes cricket, could you do a project on cricket? Maybe back off a bit on what you expect from him, working on getting him engaged in something, and then looking at the presentation at the end, as part of editing. If he could do something with a real purpose and audience maybe that would motivate him more. As I said, you've probably thought of stuff like this already and I don't want to patronise you. It may well be that it's sinking in for him that this tutoring is going to continue and he's had enough.
     
  8. spiderwomen

    spiderwomen New commenter

    I've been tutoring for years and have realised this year that the role of a tutor is meaningless. The children never do the homework, and if they do it's poor quality and as you quite rightly pointed out, if you were his teacher then you wouldn't accept it. As a tutor I couldn't understand why the kids made such limited progress, in comparison to my classes. It took me a while to work it out. An hour a week is nothing in terms of learning. Key stage two is much harder to make progress with in English. I don't teach writing any more as I never got anywhere. Instead I make them rewrite familiar stories, do comprehension, punctuation and grammar. Since I've changed my expectations I've become alot less frustrated. In Maths I just focus on the four operations as they are really important. Obviously if I have a bright child then it is different.
    I always explain to parents about homework being important but if he doesn't do it then it's not your responsibility- don't take it personally.
     
  9. angiebabe

    angiebabe New commenter

    Thanks for the replies. Yes I have tried backing off and using humour/games/coloured pens etc etc to make the lessons more interesting and I really thought it was working but as I have stated these past two sessions have been dire and I'm getting frustrated. I don't really need the money but the session comes straight after I have two other children in the same area and I was recommended by other mum (whose kids I've tutored for 3yrs now - different siblings). This new mum is hard to fathom, I don't have any rapport with her. After discussing my frustrations with her I said I wasn't prepared to give up on him yet and she was aghast saying that she really didn't want me to give up either - and I thought 'oh good, she appreciates what I am doing and is happy with my methods etc', but then she said 'because I dont have anywhere else to go' which made me feel like I was 'as good as she was going to get'!!! Not sure I've explained that correctly, but I wasn't feeling great after that conversation.
     
  10. Do the lessons, take the money and stop agonising. An hour's 1-to-1 tuition can be more beneficial than a week's English lessons in a classroom full of kids wanting attention or distracting each other and the teacher.
     
  11. angiebabe

    angiebabe New commenter

    Yes, I know what you're saying Bob but I think the reason I started this thread is that in my heart of hearts I want to tell this woman that whilst I might agree that she has a 'sensitive' son, she has not helped him in the past 7 years by mollycoddling him so bladdy much. He needs to be told to just toughen up a little bit.[​IMG]

     
  12. Yes. Don't offend her- smile, be patient and keep getting paid
     
  13. Mathsteach2

    Mathsteach2 Occasional commenter

    Apologies, angiebabe, for misunderstanding your reference to rewards and punishments, an aspect of teaching with which I was never comfortable. Even now, the only reward I give is an occasional "high-five"! My wife doesn't like it, she says it's common!

    I have to say, after 40 years in the classroom, I really love this private one-to-one tuition, and I have to agree with bobvincent, one hour can be worth more to the student than a week's english lessons in a classroom.

    I repeat my analogy, for me it is like driving a car, I cannot take my attention away from the student. It may sound like I am breathing down the child's neck all of the time, but if an element of that creeps in I quickly change my approach, and regain a co-operative relationship. Another analogy for me is solo rock climbing, which I did a little of in my younger days - where you cannot afford to lose concentration, and getting to the top was hugely exhilarating!

    For me, one hour's tuition often seems to have little or no effect on the student, but having done this now for five years since I retired, my students have improved over a period of time, and also they say my approach has encouraged them to be more committed in their school classrooms.

    If they keep coming back week after week, you must be doing something right, and along with bobvincent, I am no volunteer, make sure you keep getting your money!
     
  14. angiebabe

    angiebabe New commenter

    Thanks for the advice. I know what you mean about concentrating, it has helped plan for future work when I can see/hear exactly what tweeks need to be made to the learning process for an indvidual child.
    Also, I know what you are saying about 1to1 benefits. The mum who recommended me to this particular family has been paying me to tutor her children for a few years now - I started with eldest girl when she was in yr5, when she moved to yr6 I also had her brother who was then in yr5 and then him again when he was in yr6. Since they are both now in high school I have had the 3rd child in yr3 &4 and this week mum told the youngest that it would soon be her turn and she is in yr1 at the moment!!!!!!!! So I know that she believes I am worth it - which is nice feeling.
     

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