Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Just One Hour...

As many of you know, I have stepped aside from my tutoring business, Tutoring from the Heart, in order to focus on teaching my children at home and to become a foster parent.  My life has changed so much since making that switch.  It has only been a couple of years since I have been seeing students regularly for tutoring and private teaching, but it feels like much longer.  So much has changed. 

I love teaching my own children.  I love being a foster parent. And now that John, my youngest is 3, I am really getting the bug to do something else I love... tutor again and work with other children.

Sooooo, I got a phone call a few weeks ago and I decided to take on a new client.  Today was the day.  I happily met them at the library since I explained that I am way behind on my housework due to my foot surgery and I just couldn't meet anyone here when my classroom looks like a bomb hit it.  As an example, I slid downstairs on my rear end (since I am still not able to walk) to find a classroom filled with toys, couch with bed pulled out, air mattress inflated, Monopoly all set up mid-game and books and papers all over my desk. 

Ahhh...but I managed to hook up the printer to the old Mac computer that I haven't used in a while and printed out my registration form, agreement form, and a new client questionnaire.  I was also able to grab a few books to recommend and share for curriculum.  With the help of my sitter and my teenager, I was able to make it to the van and to the library with everyone in time to meet my new little student! 

It was a wonderful hour.  It was!  It is like missing an old friend and then reuniting after years.  I didn't miss a beat.  I made the most of the hour and it felt great to help this little girl.   My student was captivated, motivated, talkative and friendly.  I helped her read, I got to know her and I explained what I do.  I then met with her mom and made tons of suggestions and gave ideas.  I took an informal "running record".  I learned how do take running records when I was teaching in Prince George's County 15 years ago.  Hard to believe it has been that long since I started teaching in public school.  Running records are when you just listen to a child read and record the cues, strategies and different aspects of his/her reading style in order to analyze and rate reading ability.  It was so fun!  

Listening to a child read is like listening to my favorite song on the radio.  It is music to my ears. 

Even if I don't tutor as much as I used to, it felt so good to sit there one on one with an upcoming 4th grader who is ready to start school and do her best.  At the end of the session she and her mom and her sister were looking up books and checking out one of our favorites to read aloud...Matilda, by Roald Dahl. 

I'm so tired, my foot is swollen and hurting, and my house is a mess.  But life happens.  I know I can't do everything.  Well, at least I think I know.... 

Life is so rich and so full.  Just one hour can make so much difference.  Really, when we cross paths with people, we never know how we can affect people or what impact we can have.  I love tutoring because it is so personal.  It is such a connection.  It is a relationship.  It is support and it is being there for someone in need.  I so missed that little spark in a student's eye.  Um, I know what you are thinking, but I totally don't see that in my own children's eyes.  It is different.  With my own children...you know...the ones I gave birth to...not the students I have had over the years who I FELT like were my own children, but I knew they weren't. 

Like I was saying, with my OWN children it is a completely different feeling.  Really not even measurable by a twinkle in the eye or anything like that.  It is a much bigger picture.  It is way more rewarding than anything else I have ever done.  Believe me, people, rewarding things are not all hunky dory and happy all the time.

Well, let me just say it like this... with my own children, when I am teaching them, I actually don't even LIKE them some of the time.  I'm tired.  I see them all the time.  I am not a magical fairy teacher that meets them at the library and helps them read for one hour.  I am a monster who tells them what to do every waking moment of every single day.  ha...haha..ha..no.  It's just scary.  I actually told them today when I was scooting around on my knee scooter while balancing my coffee and my calendar while barking directions at them for chores... I said, "you are going to have some really fun memories to look back on of me when you grow up, huh."  They giggled a little.  I said, "you will say how you remember your crazy mommy scooting around on her scooter asking for help and telling you to do stuff."  They smiled a little more knowingly and affectionately.  Then I said I hoped they will have some good memories, too.  Sigh...the jury's still out on that one....  Carmen did say, "I like riding bikes with Emmett." PHEW! Score one for the siblings!  Mom: 0  Siblings: 1

I have a funny memory from about one or two years ago, in the early homeschooling years when I was getting used to my new life with just 2 students who didn't see me as a fun teacher.  They saw me as a mommy who was making them do stuff.   I actually sat Emmett and Carmen (said students) down on the stairs and gave them a little lecture (not sure why they were on the staircase but they were).  I was having some challenges with Emmett actually coming up with ideas of what to write about.  At the same time Carmen was complaining about the work she had to do.  They didn't want to do it, they were crying, there was a dark and mysterious thunder storm going on outside (ok, well there wasn't a thunderstorm, but it felt like there was a dark cloud over my house, anyway).  Well I told THEM.  I said,  "Look, I am an actual teacher!  I taught kindergarten and first grade. I had students in a classroom who actually LIKED me! When I asked, ok class, what would you like to write about?  They all brainstormed ideas and raised their hands and were excited to please their teacher!"  At this point, Emmett and Carmen are looking up at me quizzically.  I think Carmen raised her hand and said in a perky little voice, "I like you".  

As an aside.. I would have really liked to hear that today in the library instead of John yelling "I don't like you!" to ME, the crippled Mommy on the scooter.

Yes, that fateful and dark day I wanted to go back to my classroom of 27 kids rather than sit in my house with those two complainers.  Today, a few years later, we are still plugging away and having a blast at figuring it all out.  What a journey, what a gift, what a blessing. 

Today I got to share a little bit of that gift with a little girl who needed some support.  It was a great hour.  I made a difference. 

Now if I could get one hour OFF from my full time students then we'd have something to talk about for real! 

Well, I just did get an hour off, actually, to write this blog post...

Happy School Year to everyone!!

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