First tutoring experience:
My first official tutoring experience was when I was a senior in high school. For a project in my senior English class we had to come up with a community service project to complete and then write about. I decided that I wanted to tutor an elementary school student from a Spanish-speaking household that needed help in Reading. I had maxed out my Spanish course options at the high school level, so one factor was having the opportunity to use Spanish in my volunteer activity. The other big motivator for me was that I remembered seeing students that started to fall behind in reading around 3rd grade that never fully recovered. From that point on, they struggled with every subject since you had to be able to read and comprehend the class materials to do well. It broke my heart to see students become disheartened and give up in school. I decided if I could help just one student that was struggling in reading that it could make a lasting impact.
I was paired with the sweetest little second grader at a local elementary school. Every Friday after the high school students were dismissed I went to her school and we worked for an hour or two after she got out of class. When we first started together she was timid and didn't think she was capable of doing well since she was behind. At one point near the beginning when she was discouraged by how much help she needed, I asked if I could read her a Clifford the Big Red Dog book in Spanish. Her face lit up as she said, "I didn't know Clifford knowed Spanish!" The next week as I was reading to her, she loved that she got to help with with what a few words meant. I could tell that it made her feel better about when she needed help.
As she started to catch up to her classmates, she also gained confidence. I'll never forget the week she came out of the room and told me she got her first B on a spelling test. She said she used to think that maybe she was just dumb, but maybe she just needed a little help. I started crying and she said, "oh... are you sad I didn't get an A?" I immediately told her how proud I was of how she was improving and that I was so happy that she got a B. By the end of the year, she was reading just above grade level and was able to read and understand the directions on her homework without help.Recent tutoring experience:
In several cities across the United States including Tulsa, Oklahoma there is a program called Reading Partners
. The program uses an in-house curriculum with kids in early elementary school to improve their reading skills. I have volunteered with Reading Partners for three years. For one hour each week I work with a student going through the curriculum together. I've had a second grader, a first grader, and a kindergartener. There's just something incredible about seeing things click for each of them as new concepts started to make sense. It is also cool to see the impact that it has when they realize there is a grownup that isn't their teacher or guardian who cares about them and is invested in their education. At the end of the year, we go back and reread the first little book they read at the beginning of the year. It is so cute to hear them say things like "I used to think that was hard?? But it's easy now!"The impact on me:
Tutoring young students definitely impacts me. I get to share in the excitement as they understand more and more. I get to play a part in making them excited about learning which I find fulfilling. I get the satisfaction of walking them through the basic concepts that will serve as the foundation for whatever they study and practice in the future. On weeks where my engineering projects are wearing me out, that one hour break to work with my student refills my tank.
A silly thing I also take away is a weekly quote from my students. When I get back to the office my coworkers ask me what the weekly quote is. There's almost always at least one when you're spending time with a 5-9 year old.Here are a few kids quotes that always make me smile:
During our lesson my first grader said "Miss Heidi, you have TWO jobs. One is a engineer and one is being my Readin' Partner"
I said, "That's right. Do you know what I really really love getting to do?"
A grin spread across her face as she said "Readin' with me..."
"You are so right"
me: "So how do we read this?" Sam Sat.
my kindergartener: "Sam sat."
"Right! And how do we read this?" Sam sat!
"Sam... Sit. Yo. Butt. Down!" (He even used his grown up voice impression and it was fantastic.)
"What has been the best thing about today so far?"
*shifty glances as he pulls his uniform shirt up in the front*
"That I got this sweet Ninja Turtles shirt on under here... Shhhh""My listening ears are dying, no, they're dead. Like, maybe they need new batteries or somethin" - my 2nd grader who did not wear hearing aides
"W! That's in my name" - me
*kindergarten buddy raised an eyebrow* "There ain't no w in HEIDI."
"It's in my last name. Wuh-wuh- Wallace"
*takes a deeeep breath through his nose in my direction* "You ain't smell like no Wallace."
"What is a Wallace supposed to smell like?!"
"Hmmmm... Oh, like a Heidi I guess."
Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
Sent: 01-24-2022 07:11 PM
From: Heidi Wallace
Subject: Tutoring Experience
As we think about developing the next generation of engineers (and society in general), I was wondering if anyone has any personal experience with tutoring they'd like to share.
Here are some questions to spark your feedback. Feel free to answer as many or as few as are applicable to your experience!
- Have you participated in tutoring students?
- What inspired you to become a tutor?
- In what ways has tutoring been rewarding to you personally?
- Did someone tutoring you make an impact on your education?
Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE