Saturday, September 30, 2006

back online!!

It's been a long, sloooww month (esp. w.r.t my internet connection), but in some ways it has sped by. My work has picked up almost to the point where it was last April! As usual, students have been coming and going, and my schedule is like nailing jello to a wall... That effect seems to be the result of a combination of some students trying to find the right tutor and others coming out of their "denial" (as in, "I think this year I'll be able to do the math without help even though I really didn't get math from about 6th grade on and had to have a tutor last year in geometry/algebra2/pre-calc just to keep my head above water....") Anyway, it has made for some interesting weeks for me. The ratio of new students to returnees is about 1:1. (Speaking of ratios, I have this bumper sticker [thanks, Linda and Tommy!] posted on the wall across from my tutoring set-up, right where the students can't miss seeing it, that says, "4 out of 3 people have trouble with fractions", and the students love it -- well, the ones that get it do anyhow... the rest probably think it's just another boring statistic!) Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools has helped my business a lot by going to a 4 by 4 schedule (also click here) for this year, which means that students who were having trouble with keeping up the pace of a year-long course are now taking their math courses at twice the speed, and crashing and burning in September rather than gradually falling behind and calling in late October like they did on the old schedule. I'm also teaching four classes this year (last year I had one class) and so far that's looking like a good move.

Yesterday one of my youngest students walked me through a program to multiply binomials that he wrote for his graphing calculator. I struggled to keep up with his explanation -- obviously, he is not with me for remediation! -- but it was great to be witness to such mathematical creativity. Another student required an etiquette lesson: "How to properly address adults, especially one's teachers." Spending an hour with this fellow reminded me of an observation I once made that my girls and their friends at age 13 would, in exasperation, eschew the company of their male agemates, only to sing the praises of the same guys three or four years later. It will be interesting to see how this both these 8th graders change and mature over the next few years. A few days ago a student I was working with on SAT prep had an "aha" experience that was just wonderful, giving him a renewed confidence and motivation: the joy of that moment was written all over his face, and we both cheered out loud! I'm working with a couple of homeschooled students who got behind in their math and are playing catch-up, and it has been great to see how they have picked up all sorts of new skills over the past eight months that we have worked together. Lots of other interesting things have happened recently, and others are about to happen, including Frances and Jonathan's impending move to Baltimore! More about all this in future posts. I hope to be a more regular blogger from now on.

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