Tutoring Is Hard Work

As I described in a previous article, people should make time to tutor others. After I wrote that article, I was offered a job at the Stony Brook University Academic Success and Tutoring Center, and I can't wait to share my experiences with you! Although I have tutored for my high school's honor society before, along with informal tutoring since middle school, I haven't had the chance to formally tutor someone, such as being employed to tutor.

Once I was hired, I realized that tutoring would require a lot more work and preparation than what I previously used to put in. Not only did it require paperwork to formally be hired and registered on the University payroll, but I realized that the tutoring here was much more involved. For example, I have to attend weekly tutor training sessions that are geared to help tutors make the most of their sessions and hone their skills. The ones I attended stressed clear communication with tutees and gave simulations that would help students understand what it would be like to be the tutee to instill empathy.

One of my favorite simulations was for the communication presentation, where half of the group was composed of students who were blindfolded and had no idea what would happen, but they could speak amongst themselves. However, the other half (aka the group I was assigned to) was not blindfolded but could not speak. We were tasked with organizing everyone in the order of their birthday (not year). In order to figure out what everyone's birthdays were, we ingeniously used our IDs/driver licenses to communicate that we wanted their birthdays and we quickly arranged them in order within a certain time limit.

To communicate with the people that were blindfolded and could not see the licenses, we managed to get them to open their palms, where we traced out each letter of "BIRTHDAY" until they realized that they had to give us their birthday. We then arranged them in order and somehow managed to barely squeeze within the time limit. When the simulation was over, we realized that everyone has their own internal language, and those language barriers are a thing, but there is still a way that we can communicate such that both people can understand. It is up to us to figure out the best way to communicate our ideas to our tutees, an idea that I strongly adhere to.

This is just one example of me learning how to be a better tutor. We studied metacognition, test-taking habits, and encouragement by avoiding disparaging comments. I am so happy that I joined this program because it helped me better understand how to be a tutor. While my first day was floppy due to my rusty understanding of Calc 3, I was better able to help tutor future students and I strive to uphold the standards of both Stony Brook and myself. I hope that one day I can become a fantastic tutor and help more students succeed!

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