Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Extraneous Tutoring

One of my part-time jobs is that of a homebound tutor, working for a company that provides certified teachers to students who are homebound across Long Island. These students are homebound for a variety of reasons - illness, suspension, etc. - but they've been pretty much nice kids; I haven't had any that have refused to work or have been unpleasant. The biggest problem is that these students, all of whom have been in high school (although I think that's mostly been by chance) have been a bit flaky. I recently asked that one student be reassigned because I was so busy with school and other work obligations that my schoolwork was suffering, which is no good. A second student, I discovered today, was back at school as of last week (last week I didn't tutor her because I was sick). This leaves me with one student, who is out due to suspension, one that was actually prolonged due to a separate incident. He's a very nice kid, and I like him; and he's fairly bright, too, but more than the other students I've had, he's simply not doing his work. I realize that much of this has to do with his age, and the fact that many (most?) kids his age have poor impulse control and an inability to consider the consequences, but aside from rarely doing the work I assign him, he consistently shows up 15 or more minutes late. (He lives about three blocks from the library, where we hold our tutoring sessions.)

I've had multiple conversations with his parents about his lateness, his not doing his homework, and the other problems we've encountered, but so far things have just not been getting through. This afternoon he was about 45 minutes late, and had I not called him to ask where he was, might not have discovered that he was going to stop off at his high school before coming to the library. He's a genuinely nice kid, and I do like him, but I think it's time for some of what they call "tough love."

The other students I'd tutored for more than a session or two also seemed to have a problem with self-discipline and not doing their homework independently - they seem to need someone else literally sitting there next to them and talking them through all their work while they do it. And from what I can tell, the parents aren't doing that, either. I suggested that tactic last week to my now lone student's stepmother; this failed, though, when the student told her that he wanted to do the work alone. I think my student is going to discover today that he's got a lot of reading to take care of, and I'm actually sitting here making sure that he does it. He's also double-booked himself - his other tutor is coming in half an hour so we'll not have had enough to time actually begin our research.

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