Monday, March 28, 2011

A 25-Point Improvement

Rocky (not his real name), a freshman in a New York City public High School, received a score of 58 on his last Geometry test before I started tutoring him. On his next test, the first after I tutored him in Geometry for one and three quarter hours, his score was 83, a 25 point increase! The improvement was so significant that Rocky’s teacher wrote an encouraging comment of recognition on the top of Rocky’s test. I do not know who was more proud and satisfied: Rocky, his parents, or me.

To what do I attribute the 25-point improvement? During our first tutoring session, Rocky and I reviewed his most recent Geometry work; including teacher handouts, worksheets, and notes he had taken in class. Rocky knew theory but needed more practice applying it. I congratulated and reinforced him when he correctly solved a problem. I also corrected him when he wrongly applied a theory or made a calculation error.

During our conversation, I learned that Rocky might experience test anxiety that prevents him from doing his best work. I briefly demonstrated and had Rocky practice some anxiety and stress reducing techniques that he could use before and during a test if he felt nervous. At our second tutoring session, Rocky said he found the techniques helpful.

I am convinced that Rocky’s 25-point improvement was not attributed to my command of Geometry or superior tutoring skills but rather to the individualized attention I provided Rocky. Overcrowded public schools staffed by underpaid teachers cannot provide the individualized correction and encouragement a tutor can provide. For parents who cannot afford private school and want their child to excel, a tutor might provide their child with enough extra attention to help them get the most out of their public education.

So far I have tutored students in Bushwick, NY (a neighborhood in Brooklyn), Ridgewood, NY, and Glendale, NY (neighborhoods in Queens), but I prefer to tutor students in the Ridgewood, NY area.  I  have worked with students as young as sixth grade and as old as twelth grade, tutoring in both English Language Arts and Math, including Algebra, Geometry and Algerbra II/Trigonometry.  The greatest reward I receive from tutoring is not the extra income it provides, but knowing that students like Rocky come closer to reaching their full potential.

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