Adventure of a Tutor
A few posts ago, I spoke about a student I was tutoring who was on the Autism Spectrum Disorder. I have made it a priority to work with this student as much as I could in order to help him succeed in Math, Reading and Writing. One of my main focuses in Math was grouping, rows and columns; the beginning state of multiplication and division. When I first started working with my student, there was a lot of difficulty in both these areas. I soon figured out that colour coding worked for the student, and I used this strategy in all of their math problems. I coloured in each row, each column; I coloured in the circles that represented the groups, and each balloon that had to be placed in each group so that each circle had the same amount of balloons. When multiplying 3X1, the task at hand was to know that 1X3 will give you the same answer. I coloured 1 in purple, 3 in green, and underlined the spots in which they had to go in for the reverse (this is explained in detail in my previous post). This may sound tedious, but it worked, and if it works for my student, than it works for me. The visible smile on my students’ face when they realize they finally understood the material will stay with me forever. I tell this story to other teachers, as well as friends and family because seeing the motivation and accomplishment in my student was overwhelmingly joyful.
I took a break from this tutoring center as I went back home to Montreal this summer. When I returned and began working with this student again, we continued with colour coding, only this time, they seemed to understand more so than before. I decided to try and take out a bit of the colour coding. Instead of colouring all of the rows and columns, I simply wrote R and C. Instead of colour coding the spots for 3 and 1, I left it without. When my student began to work, they understood the material without the colour coding, and even this small gesture made them happier than before. They realized that the colours weren’t there, and it was still making sense. In terms of grouping, this still needed guided support, and colour coding at the beginning. However, after a few tries, the colour was gone and my student still understood.
This isn’t only about colour coding and trying to remove the colours slowly to see the effect; it’s about never giving up. There are always going to be good days and bad days; days where our students seem to just “click” with the material, and other days where it’s just not happening. Patience is our biggest strength, and most effective tool. I stuck by my student, and every time I worked with them, I put on my motivated game face and was determined to teach in a way that worked for them. I did, and still do, whatever I can to help them succeed.
My student was very happy with their efforts, and I felt extremely grateful that I was able to help them reach that point. On bad days, I didn’t push through the material; you need to know when to take a step back and just say, “let’s do something else”. On good days, we worked on it, we were focused and we completed a lot of our pages. We need to be aware of the good and bad days, and have equal amounts of patience for either. The end result will be a story you cannot stop repeating.
I am appreciative and thankful for the opportunity I was given to work with this student. I know I taught them a thing or two, but they taught me so much more. They taught me the virtue of patience, of collaboration, of motivation, of perseverance, of tenacity, and most importantly, of being able to let things go when they just aren’t working; taking a step back on those bad days and just saying, “it’s okay”.
I encourage you to make a conscious effort to be patient in times of struggle, to be motivated on all your days, and to just let it go and say that it is okay.