Identifying the Problem
One of my tutees through MathSP was a 10th grade geometry student making consistent C’s and D’s at the time. During our first session, I noticed that she was very self-doubting and unsure about her own understanding of the material. As we worked problems together, she would often seek confirmation and reassurance, asking questions such as ‘Am I doing this right?,’ ‘Does this look good?’, ‘In the next step am I supposed to…?’ While most of her work was correct, her confidence in that work and in her own ability was shaken, and I could tell this was part of the reason she was not performing well on exams.
So, as we continued to work together, I fed her encouraging words and positive reinforcement for correct answers. ‘That’s it – you’ve it!’ ‘Yes, exactly – Keep going!’ ‘You can do this. You’re doing great!’ In addition to kind words, I also tried to help her realize what she already knew. For example, if she asked a question, rather than giving her the answer right away, I would ask her a question in return to get her thinking. Before long, she was answering her own questions! All of these things coupled with practice and repetitive problem solving eventually helped her feel more comfortable with the material.
Making the Grade
After two sessions like this, the student got an A on the next exam! While her parents praised my work with her and thanked me for all that I did, I knew that it was all her doing. Tutoring someone is often more than just relaying content knowledge; it also includes pushing them to recognize their own potential. The ability to succeed is already in every student. Sometimes you just have to help them bring it out.