As I come up on the one year anniversary of starting my online tutoring business I thought I would follow my own advice and reflect on what this last year has taught me. It's been a doozy for sure.
Working with unique kids from 4th to 10th grade has reinforced what I sort of knew from teaching. All of our kids need more explicit instruction in skills. Every student I know can benefit from more practice of academic skills. This sounds very basic and as a teacher I certainly knew it was true. However, with the amount of content that a teacher is expected to cover, I didn't always have the time to be really detailed about various skills; to break them down into their parts and genuinely coach students through the different steps involved.
As a tutor I take the time to think about how we read, what are the steps we need to master? (I find the science of reading fascinating.) What are strategies we can use when our brains aren't intrinsically interested in the text we are reading? What are things we can do if our brains like to jump around as is typical with ADD? I get to think about the elements of reading comprehension; decoding, background knowledge, vocabulary, word and sentence relationships, perspective taking. How do we retain what we have read? Discussion? Taking notes? Answering questions about the material? And of course, I get to think about how to break down the complicated skill of writing (nonfiction) so that it isn't so overwhelming for students.
I loved being a teacher but it is such a great honor to be given the opportunity to dig into these essential underlying skills with your kids; to help them understand what their teachers are asking them to do and to help them develop habits that will support them as they journey on through learning. In the end what I have really gained this year is inspiration. I am inspired by how hard each of your kids are willing to work. Becoming good at reading, writing, organizing your tasks, managing your time...none of these things are easy. And each of your children has taken on the hard work of getting better at difficult skills. They are my heroes.