I’m not sure what I expected when I first decided to become a literacy tutor, but going into this afternoon, I definitely felt nervous about meeting my student. It’s intimidating to realized that you’re responsible for teaching someone something that can change their life significantly!
So I was to meet my Student, “X” as I shal refer to him, at the library this evening. He showed up 10 minutes early (an A+ in my book) and we headed into the library to get acquainted. The Literacy Council provided me with books that were appropriate for his reading level, and I had them handy in my tote bag, but I really wanted to focus on chatting first.
I anticipated our first meeting lasting about an hour, as I thought we could talk about our different backgrounds and his goals, etc… He was pretty brief about his background which I can understand…I mean, I am a complete stranger. Plus, I bet it is more intimidating for him to talk to a person he’s known for 5 minutes about his inability to read.
So my grand plan of getting to know each other during our first meeting lasted a whopping 15 minutes. I started to panic. I was not prepared to crack open the books and get started on teaching today! But there I was, sitting there with him, him expecting me to do something. I couldn’t just look at him and say, “uhhhh, soooo, uhhhhh.” I had a responsibility, and my responsibility is to help him learn to read.
I asked him if he wanted to take a look at the books, and we briefly went over the first section of the first lesson. We went over basic vowel sounds (long and short), and read a few words to practice.
Honestly, I felt completely flustered. I told him flat out that I’m new at the tutoring thing and thought that might help put him at ease if I were coming across as a complete tool. I then went on to tell him that I’m flexible with our materials, and that if he doesn’t want to use the books, we can use other things like comics or things that appeal to him, as the books are kind of boring. He seemed to like that idea. I also told him that I could make up some flashcards for our meeting next week, as it seemed that might be a good teaching tool, especially since he seems to have a good memory.
So we ended after about 35 minutes together. We went over very basic things while I crapped my pants in fear of sucking and then we left with plans to meet again next Tuesday.
I still feel a little uneasy and like I’m in completely unfamiliar territory. But, I AM! Hopefully after a few meetings, we’ll both get more comfortable and it will get easier. He did make me laugh when he said he was worried that he’d end up with “an old lady teacher who only wanted to focus on reading.” Haha.
This whole thing is definitely a challenge for me, but I think putting myself in uncomfortable situations is a good thing. Plus, if making myself uncomfortable can help someone else, then it’s totally worth it.