Question: I had my first student for over a year, but after that, I’ve had a different student every 2 months. It’s been really hard to create a bond like I did with my first student. Do you have any suggestions?
When I began as a Volunteer at School on Wheels, I first started at an emergency shelter, where I was lucky if I worked with one student for a month. So, I understand your confusion and possible frustration with the situation. I got too attached to my first student and thought about all these ideas for teaching them. I’d become so invested, yet my student only stayed at the shelter for so long before eventually moving far away. After this, I realized I had to change my mindset and make goals that were short-term for the student.
As I worked with my student on homework and other activities, I began to ask myself each week: What do I want my student to learn today? Whatever it was, I tried to just make that day enjoyable and a good learning experience for them. I always socialized a bit too. Open yourself up to your student, ask how his/her day was, and tell your student one small interesting thing that happened with you. This can help create a friendlier dynamic and shift the burden off of you being a strict figure to someone who can at least make their day better. Through tutoring at the emergency shelter, I had to learn to be more flexible and work with my situation—adapting to these students and the circumstances of their lives.
So, here are the tips outlined:
- Make short-term goals and continue as you go on. What would you want the student to learn today (the day you tutor them)? Example: strengthen addition skills. Focusing on the positive each day can help create a bond.
- Make the best of the time you have with them, and try to be a positive role model for the short amount of time you are in their lives.
- Ask about their day and interests. If they won’t talk much, tell them something funny that happened to you so that at least they will laugh. Ask some questions about tv shows, music, or books.
- Each child is different, so you have to really try to get to know them and not view them as someone temporary. Focus on them right now because they are your student for the present. Allow yourself to be flexible with the kids you come across.
- Keep in contact with the parent(s). This not only helps establish great communication, but also will encourage the family to like and trust you. They may more more dependable as a result.
I wish you the best of luck!
About the tutor: Timesia Garcia is a dedicated volunteer, passionate about helping others. She studies sociology at a local community college and has been tutoring with School on Wheels for almost two years.