I tutor English for scholarship exams to year 5’s and year 8’s. It is a rewarding experience I can tell ya. Especially when they pay you. That is the rewarding part. The teaching? Not so much. Jk.
So this year, I got a brother and sister to tutor. The girl is in year 5 and the boy is in year 8. When I do orientation lesson in the first class, I yak away on the two types of essays they will be writing in the exam. I go through all the basics, the do’s and don’ts, the if’s and but’s, the no pencil rule, the formal writing rule, all that. And I can tell, most my kids are actively listening, grasping all the pieces of information I am hurling at them. This boy, however, was just sitting uninterested. He was slouched back, shoulders drooping, sighing in between. For a second, I wondered if he had heard all this before. I mean I tune out the safety instructions they give on the plane because I have heard it so many times. So I ask him, if he has because I don’t want to waste my breath and energy if that is the case. He rolls out his tongue and says no. So I resume with my energy even if it is not having an effect on him. Turns out he is like that. Like a kid who doesn’t want to be there but has to be there.
Throughout the weeks, I tried making his lesson a bit interesting. Interacting with him, asking about his hobbies and what games he likes to play. And although he opened up, he never spoke with animated passion. If you talked to me about something I love, my eyes would be out of its sockets, my mouth would be going non-stop 120 km/hr. But for this kid, he was like an 80 year old weary grandpa who had seen the world and experienced life and was just biding away his time by doing what his parents asked him to.
Slowly slowly I got to know more of him through his writing. For instance his fascination with Ebola. In almost each essay that he wrote, Ebola had to be there whether it related to the topic or not. And no matter how many times I had to tell him off for it, Ebola would still creep in. Now whenever he hands me the essay, I quickly scan through the essay to search for it and smile whenever I see its mention.
He is slowly starting to enjoy our lessons. He smiles a bit now and talks about school,his friends and his teachers. It took him a while but he is opening up. I am hoping I can make him put extra effort on his essays but I don’t want to scare him away. It shall take a bit of time.Before I know it, he will be giving the exam and saying good bye. I wonder that’s how teachers/lecturers must feel. Teaching you for a whole year/semester. Getting used to seeing faces, getting to know students and then all of a sudden, new students, new faces. And one of them sticks to your mind. The different one. Because I know I shall remember this kid and his fascination with the disease Ebola.
***Feature image via Google Images