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Tutoring For Your Needs • Passion For Education

Se habla español.
Feb 022012

Every Tuesday evening I drive to Rancho Cucamonga to tutor a student, and after our sessions I spend another fifteen minutes driving back to Upland.  On the drive over, I rehearse my lessons and try to come up with the right way to explain the quadratic equation or remember the order of operations. By the time I get to my student’s house, I am pumped to start because I am ready to help him tackle any tricky problems his Algebra homework can throw at us. Usually we are successful and can even pin those word problems down with the help of some equations and diagrams. On the drive home, I am always amazed at how much I learned from his way of approaching the problems.

I am so grateful to my students for showing me news ways to view the world. As a tutor, my job is to come in and assist students in doing things the right way. I help them read the right way, do their math homework the right way, remember the water cycle the right way and spell words the right way. I take this task seriously because there’s a lot to be said for the right way!

Still, with all due respect to the right way, my favorite part of tutoring is asking students why they did something their way. When it comes to algebra problems, their way often means a negative sign was ignored, the order of operations was confused or an arithmetic error was made, but sometimes they invent a new way of approaching a problem. Usually, their way shows you what they know. Frequently, I see students approach a problem by drawing on skills they’ve already mastered and combining them in new and interesting ways.

With beginning readers, this often manifests in their spelling. I had a student who loved silent e’s. Once she understood what a silent e was, every word with a long vowel got a silent e at the end. While I eventually worked with her to get beyond her silent e obsession, I loved to see her enthusiastically using silent e’s. Her way showed me that she had developed good phonemic awareness, she understood the concept of vowels and that they have both a long and short sound
and that she understood how to use silent e’s. Furthermore, her silent e’s spellings often made more phonetic sense then the bizarre rite right way .

Whether I am driving home from my students in Chino Hills or Alta Loma, I am always grateful for my commute because it is my time to remember that I may teach them the right way, but what they share with me is the wisdom to see all the ways that are possible. My students help me remember to take risks, to use what I know in new and creative ways and to sometimes question whether the right way is the best way or the only way.

  One Response to “From Upland, to Rancho Cucamonga, to Alta Loma and Chino Hills, We Tutor Students the Right Way”

  1. Hey Mr. Welborn, one of your old students here. I’m not sure, but in regard to your title for this article, I think it should be Students, and not Student’s?

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