Thursday, November 17, 2011

Of Books and Stickers

Tutoring session number two finished an hour ago and I'm still smiling. Dave and I are on good terms. How do I know that? He gave me a sticker. Put it right on my forehead. I made a silly face at him, letting him know I was playing along. And then he took Tina's stickers, then gave them back after I threatened to go to the teacher.

Thank goodness for the teacher. She called me yesterday and we chatted about Dave. I learned some things about him that explained his behavior. I stepped in his shoes and walked around them a bit. That was my exercise, my mental preparation. It worked. The only thing I worried about was coming across sincere. But I just made my mind forget anything I knew about him and concentrated on him right then. Mind you, I did have to mention something his teacher told me. His mom promised to take him and a friend to a major sporting event if he cooperated in class and in the reading sessions. Once I said that, he reluctantly began reading. I think he even got into the story a bit.

When the program leader gave him the Thanksgiving stickers, he plastered them all over his folder. Except for one chipmunk, which he reserved for my forehead. Still makes me smile.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

First day

Today, it began. Tutoring, that is. It felt like my first day of school. Will the kids like me? Will I know what to do? It was very nerve wracking. I met the lady in charge of the program and she took me to meet the teacher and to grab the first kid.

I really wasn't mentally prepared at all for any of it. I didn't think I needed to be. So many other times in my life I psyched myself up for something and then watched as all my expectations fell short. However, I think I should have done some mental pushups or jogging in place or SOMETHING to have helped me. I met the teacher and then saw the boy. We'll call him Dave. Trying hard not to have any judgment or preconceived ideas as to how the next 8 months were going to play out for us, I tried striking up a conversation. How do you talk to a 12 year old? I think I forgot what that was even like. I even got his name wrong. I felt so bad. I tried playing it up like some joke, but that fell flat.

We made it to the desk where we were stationed. I was given a questionnaire as a sort of "get-to-know-you" exercise. That was a challenge. Either he didn't feel comfortable sharing his favorite movie or food, or he just didn't have very many preferences. This was going to be way harder than I thought. Shy doesn't begin to come close to how he was.

The next activity was even more difficult. I had two books from which he could choose. He didn't like "The Westing Game" or "A Wind in the Door." Now what? I kept asking in different ways, trying to maintain a positive vibe. He just didn't want to choose. I offered him a few other suggestions, but he just wouldn't! Finally, I chose the book - a ghost story. What 12-year-old boy wouldn't want to read that? Soon after, our time was up and he went back to his classroom without a word. Sigh.

The next one was a girl and we'll call her Tina. She was the complete opposite of Dave, with the exception that she was a little shy too. We chatted through the get-to-know-you questions and then looked at the books. After we read the descriptions on the back, she decided on one of the books in about 2 seconds. We finished up quickly and she then headed back to the classroom. What a difference the two were!

I'm trying to maintain a positive outlook where Dave is concerned. We'll see how Thursday goes. Maybe I need to read some books about 12-year-old boys. Something to know what goes on inside their heads.

Any of you have suggestions for me?