The Joys of Tutoring

I’m posting this to say thank you to FLOC for the opportunity to be a tutor.  I’ve been tutoring at FLOC for nearly two years and it is one of the most enjoyable things I do.  I am delighted when I see my student’s eyes light up as he gets enthusiastic about what we are studying, when his mom says his grades are improving, and when he enjoys writing so much he takes a story home to work on.

The tutoring room is less formal than a classroom – just a big open space with tables, chairs, bookcases and file cabinets; but it comes to life during class.  I get there 15 minutes before the students, pick seats, and review feedback on what we accomplished last week and the plans for this week.  When Christian, my student arrives, we spend a few minutes catching up on events of the week and then get down to work.  We are working on language skills, so time is spent on vocabulary, grammar, structure, reading, etc.  There is a lot of back and forth as we think of new ways to use the vocabulary words or expand on the stories.  There are breaks for snacks and activities like trashketball – essentially catch with points for answering language questions.  Recently, a lot of our study time has been devoted to writing, Christian’s favorite.  He is writing a story about how a janitor in a museum was attacked by robbers and then practiced and became a karate legend.  It has been a lot of fun to see the story evolving as he works on it.

The other tutors are having pretty much the same experience.  By this time in the year, relationships are established and the students are no longer shy about asking questions or making jokes.  It is so fascinating to see how differently the children see the world and how much more open their view is from an adult’s view.  When I look around the room, I see the other tutors and their students smiling, joking, and congratulating each other.  At the end of class, everyone seems grateful for the time together and looks forward to next week.

I found out about FLOC when someone in my alumni group sent a recruiting email.  Much earlier in my career I had taught one class at a community college.  I almost didn’t cash the paycheck because teaching was so much fun.  Unfortunately, the paycheck was too small to make a career of it. Remembering how much fun that had been, I signed up with FLOC.

I’ve had about eight students so far and they have all been different and enjoyable.  Both the students and I have increased our self esteem.  They are happier because they are doing better in school.  I am happier because I have helped them become better able to contribute to society.

I have enjoyed volunteering at FLOC so much that I signed up for a Masters in Education program at the University of Maryland so that I can be a teacher in my next career (I’m semi-retired now).  I hope to use my background in science to show students both the marvelous simplicity and complexity in the world around them.  I would like to help them develop the critical thinking processes and creative negotiating skills that have enabled us to develop an ever more peaceful and equitable society.  I want to teach them that respect for one another and for nature will continue to make human life on earth sustainable.

I am very grateful that signing up as a FLOC tutor opened these new doors for me!

(Mike McAvey is a tutor in the Tuesday night Reading program.)

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