I had another tutoring session tonight with Mark (the last before a two week break for Alaska!) and all I can say is, "thanks!"
Thank you to all the teachers who had the patience to instruct me throughout the years. Trying to return the favor now by helping my adult student learn to be a better reader is a real challenge. I am so grateful to those who did their best to get all this information into my young brain. My old brain is finding it tough to bring all that deeply buried data into the light of day!
One aspect of this tutoring process that I'm really enjoying is the chance to put my personal spin on how I conduct our time together. For instance: if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know by now that I love quotes. So I open every tutoring session with a quote. Here's the one I used tonight:
I started this a few weeks ago, showing Mark an uplifting quote, then asking him what he thought it meant. Now that I've explained what paraphrasing is all about, I ask him to paraphrase the quote for me. Then we discuss whether the quote is literal or figurative. I'm finding quotes to be a great teaching tool, and I'm hoping some of their messages are getting through to my twenty-year-old incarcerated student.
As Mark has grown to trust me, I've learned that he is prison with a felony conviction for armed robbery. He'll be released in December, right before Christmas. The other night, he mentioned in the context of a passage we were studying that his first trip to juvenile hall happened when he was eleven years old. Eleven! I find it all so hard to imagine. I truly hope that he's ready to turn his life around and put all that behind him. I hope he's strong enough to do so.
Mark is working hard to learn to write essays, a skill he'll need to pass his GED. Right now, I've got him working on an essay comparing and contrasting the poetry of Langston Hughes with the lyrics of Tupac Shakur - Mark's favorite rap artist. Even stodgy old me has to admit that there are quite a number of similarities. I'm glad I thought to give him this assignment: he's finding it fun to do, and I like watching his face light up when he thinks of another topic sentence.
Tonight we discussed synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, and homophones. Oy - my brain hurt by the time I left! But to help him work on increasing his vocabulary, I took in a little gift for him tonight:
He seemed genuinely touched by such a small thing, and I wondered if anyone had ever given him the gift of a book? I hope these help him come to believe in himself a bit more. He's such a bright young man who has made some monumentally stupid mistakes in his short life.
So, as the kids are heading back to school, I once again say thanks to all teachers. I can't imagine the many hours you put in, preparing lessons and staying late. I know you don't get paid anywhere near what your profession is worth. But I'm so grateful for all you do, for all my teachers did for me. I am a passionate reader and a decent writer, and I have a life-long love of learning. I'm hoping that I can pass along even a small piece of this to Mark.
Until next time...