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Andy Yang: Education is the Work of a Lifetime

2017-02-06 09:30| Publisher: AndyYang| Views: 524| Comments: 0

Description: Andy Yang, a volunteer here at Tutorsworld, talks about his thoughts and experiences as a tutor.

Education: the Work of a Lifetime

When I entered high school, one of the new concepts I was introduced to was the critical importance of extracurricular activities. The fact that being active outside of the classroom is equally crucial as scoring high on tests is something all students have been told. So there’s a question of how the little bit of free time we’re allowed ought to be spent. And after almost a year of working as a volunteer helper at Tutorsworld, I’ve found that giving to the community is a surely gratifying choice, worth devoting time to.

I joined Tutorsworld without knowing much. As a freshman I’d never thought that I could be a teacher. The first “job” I was offered was to help a student practice English communication. Through a few emails, the student and I decided to have Skype calls on Saturdays. I felt nervous at our first meeting, because I was going to talk to a stranger. I didn’t prepare a lesson plan or anything. But as we talked, breaking the ice was not difficult. I found out that we were in the same grade, and he attends a school not too far from mine. So we started a conversation about school. We shared our opinions about each class we were taking, and learned about each other’s interests. It was like making a new friend. I did make a new friend. From then on, I was no longer afraid of holding a tutoring session. I learned to prepare resources for each session based on the student’s needs. The guy just moved to this country last year, so I kept in mind the possible language barriers that we could work on, and found some reading passages online to assess and hone his skill. Other times, we had more casual talks, chatting about life, because I considered conversational speaking a necessary language training, much like the way I learn Spanish in school as a second language. I got to decide how our lessons go, which was both a freedom and a responsibility. And it was awesome to see how much we can do in just 30 minutes, when they’re not wasted on surfing the Internet. Week after week, I was glad to observe improvements in my friend’s English, and the amity of our connection too.

During the school days, I find tutoring a hobby, a break from school work. After classes, I would get a table in the library, or an empty classroom to tutor three children, whose parents drives to the high school from the elementary school every week, which I’m thankful for. Now the hard part of this is not the material - I should be fine teaching the entire 2nd or 3rd grade curriculum - but rather keeping the kids engaged and focused, because that proved to be extremely challenging. I try to be a nice tutor so the students can work pleasantly, but if I’m too lenient and compliant, they would take advantage and slack off from work. It was frustrating at times, but I had to remember that it’s normal for young kids to want to do fun things instead of work, so it would be unfair and ineffective if I get angry and yell. I must come up with strategies to give them the desire to work. After doing some research and taking advice from educators’ websites, I began experimenting with a few things: asking questions that gradually guide them to the answer, offering rewards for completion, setting up a points system for behavior. Essentially, kids like to learn when it’s like a game. It made sense; who doesn’t like games? I figured that the kids already went through a long day at school, so I had to make my lessons extra fun and different from schoolwork. It didn’t always work out well: some days I myself am too tired to do anything especially exciting. However, every tutoring session leaves me with a good feeling at the end. Because I’m volunteering, I put in effort to make each experience worthwhile, rather than just fill up time for a monetary gain. This also allows me to forgive myself when I don’t do the best job. I could even look at this opportunity as a kind of internship, a less serious buffer before taking a real job, which involves much more pressure and responsibility, probably too much for a busy inexperienced high schooler.

Tutoring made me realize the hardships that a teaching profession entails, and that definitely changed my attitudes toward my own teachers. It made me appreciate their work even more. Teaching is a learning experience, and together, education will continue its impact throughout my whole life.



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