Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Good Way To Spend A Saturday Morning

Spending time outside of school tutoring my students is nothing new to me. It is something I have always done since my first days teaching. My colleague friends always did it to and we never thought twice about the number of hours we spent doing it. Our classrooms were always open early in the morning and they were filled with kids looking for extra help. We held review sessions during regents week and the kids piled in also. It never occurred to any of us that this was something we should not be doing. It wasn't even until I started at my present school that I learned teachers could actually get paid for staying extra to do this.

Helping my students is a big part of who I am. Maybe its my insecurity, my belief that if I was better at my job, they would be doing better in class. I don't know. I just know it is what I do. Years ago, before we had to worry about consequences of getting too close to students, I used to hold review sessions in my basement. I would take my kid's big blackboard, we sat around the basement floor and worked for hours. My own kids grew up watching my students learn. It is too dangerous to do this now so all my tutoring is confined to school. Over the years, I've worked with them on soccer fields, in gyms and in lunchrooms.

This semester I have no regents classes but a few weeks ago it occurred to me that no tutoring was being offered for the Math B regents. Thank you Mayor Bloomberg for cutting our budget so no funds are available for this. I started getting nervous. Although these kids are not mine now, about 60 of them were mine last year for the first two-thirds of the term. They weren't the strongest math students and I wondered how they would do without extra help. So, what is a nut like me to do? I held a regents review session this morning. Most of the kids are on the senior trip this weekend (a stupid weekend for this since it is right before regents exams and every senior must take at least one exam) and I did announce this at the last minute, but I had a decent turn out. The kids showed up at 10:00 AM (some were there much earlier) full of questions and topics to be clarified. I went over everything they asked and taught them some "legal cheating" (ways to beat the system using the graphing calculator). All in all, it was a great morning. It got my adrenaline going and I feel ready to come home and conquer the world.

I don't do per session. If money was offered, I would have left the tutoring to others. The paltry amount I would receive could not compensate my weekend of lost time. Doing what I did today is what works for me. The reward I got from these kids as they left the room is better than any paycheck I will ever receive. I intend to do the same thing for the kids in my geometry classes who take the regents in June.

Many years ago, when I first started in my present school, a veteran teacher said, "In this school, we don't tutor students." I answered, "This teacher does." That teacher is long gone. This teacher will be gone soon. I'm hoping the new crop of teachers will be more like this than that.


Miss Eyre said...

Good for you. I wish I could spend some time after school with some of my kids. There are just too many hoops to jump through: I have to get permission from the kid's parents every single day, have to inform my AP, have to make sure security is still there, etc. I can't just say, "Well, stick around for half an hour and I'll help you start your homework or give you a quiet place to read for a while." It really makes me want to go back to teaching high school.

Pissedoffteacher said...

The benefits of a large high school--it is always open.

I had to get permission for the kids to come in on Saturday.

Anonymous said...

Let me tell you how naive I was when I was a young teacher. I started an after-school tutoring for the upcoming City Reading Test and got the parents permission, but never thought to ask the principal. Thankfully the friend I was doing this with knew to do so. I could have been in so much trouble. Then when the city changed the math test, I came to school early and invited students to come in for tutoring. And some did.

A few years ago, I wanted to have a math tutoring session during lunch (and did not ask for pay) and my admin said NO!! And she was very disrespectful in her answer to me. It seemed she no longer wanted children leaving the lunchroom to be monitors and tutoring was no exception. Ya gotta love a closed-minded individual!!