Today was a busy day. We arrived and entered the building, and the president (they call him the principle) was waiting for us as usual. He always has a few things to tell us before we begin… usually along the lines of reminding us to fill out the kids’ progress sheets and to make sure they’re listening to the teacher, things like that. What I’ve really appreciated is how the staff is so supportive not only of the kids, but of the tutors as well. Each week they’re so appreciative of us showing up. It’s really encouraging to see people so committed to the well-being of the kids, that they aren’t just in it for the money. It’s important to them that we’re doing well, that we’re enjoying our time with the kids. It’s just nice to be appreciated and cared about.
Anyway, it seemed like the kids had a lot to do today. I worked with Jaylen, Emily, and Sam today. Mostly with Sam, but Emily was sitting next to him and Jaylen was having trouble, again, with focusing on his work. Sam had a reading comprehension worksheet he was working on, and today especially he and I worked on setting goals for his work. One of the things the class was doing was writing pen-pal letters to a class all the way in China, and he was drawing a bunch of Pokemon on his for his pen-pal. It was distracting him, so I told him that he could draw one Pokemon after each subject of homework he finished. He seemed to do a lot better once he knew what his goal should be. He likes the illusion of productivity (getting up to do things, even if they’re meaningless) more than actually being productive, so I think it’ll take a little more effort throughout the weeks ahead. We did get his work done though, so that went well. Afterwards we were talking about Pokemon and he was showing me all the cards he had (there were a ton of them). I realized that I had two cards in my wallet. A boy I knew through the Wyldlife program back home had given them to me a few years back, but I’d never done anything with them. I took them out and showed Sam, who was enthralled because apparently they were rare or legendary or something like that. Seeing how much he liked them, I just offered them to him. He was so taken aback and appreciative, it almost made me laugh. I like this kid.
I helped Emily, his sister, study for her spelling test today. She’s really crazy, but really funny. I enjoy working with her. Sometimes she and Sam distract each other, so I have to remind them to focus on their work, not each other. She’s a hard worker, though. It’s nice to see when kids ask for your help, and then apply what you tell them; it makes it feel like I’m legitimately tutoring them.
Not that I don’t feel like I’m tutoring them all the time, but mostly it’s focused on building relationships, at least for me. And other times when I help the kids out, they are thankful only for the answer, but don’t actually apply the advice we give to anything else. So it’s nice to feel like I’m making a difference sometimes I guess.
I also helped Jaylen today. He had a history assignment he was working on, and my goodness, this kid loves to be distracted. He will take any opportunity to ignore his work and talk to people around him. I have to be firm with him, but I think he understands. He and I have a running joke now, because he’ll ask me to just tell him the answer, and I’ll tell him that you know what, they actually tell you the answer right here in the book. He’ll be surprised and excited and ask where, and I’ll just point to the story he’s supposed to read. He laughs and then gets serious about reading it. One of the more interesting things about volunteering at MOMs is when you’re able to show kids that they’re capable. So often I think that they’ve been brainwashed into thinking that they can’t do anything unless someone is holding their hand. Our purpose as tutors is not just to guide them through homework, but to empower them to see their own ability, much like that of a social worker involved in the life of a community or individual. It’s interesting how it all connects.