On Teaching

Culture

Teaching is harder than it looks…. well, harder than it looks to me, at least. I’ve been tutoring the kids of a friend of the family (with math for grades 3, 5 and 9, mostly) for a couple of months now, and they’re going back to school next week. When I started, my assumption was that it was just a matter of showing them how to solve problems and talking them through the questions when they were having a hard time. But now that I’ve been doing it a while, I’m totally humbled and I have a newfound respect for teachers (good teachers).

For the most part, trying to decide how to show the kid how to do something is harder than it seems. Then, I have to figure out why the kid doesn’t understand, which is mad hard because you can’t count on them to communicate these things on their own. Even knowing when to shut up and let them figure out and when to help them is tricky. And you can forget about knowing how to motivate them, or how to get them to try when they just don’t think they can do it.

Oddly, I also tutored kids in grade 9 and 10 with the Pathways to Education program this past winter, but it wasn’t as difficult. I think it was because I was just there to help them with their homework when they needed it, and the teachers were doing the actual teaching during the day at school.

In any case, I really liked working with them (plus I enjoy doing math). It’s so rewarding when they understand something. (And not very rewarding when everything you’ve taught them seems to just fall out of their heads.) One of the little girls gave me one of the “good job!” stickers in her activity book and said I deserved it! I bet you don’t get stickers in your job.

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