Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Pure Unadulterated Joy of After School Tutoring

Last week, I started tutoring after school with Mathnasium, a company that focuses exclusively on mathematics. As you can imagine, it's quite different than my teaching experiences, including all of the "extended day programs" I've participated in.

This is only my second opportunity to teach elementary students, and really the first meaningful one. I don't really have to deal with any of the paperwork, meetings and other administrative nonsense of your typical school. Discipline is not an issue. The curriculum is very intuitive and designed for students to work on what they actually need to work on, not on what's in a textbook. The first day was tremendous--the bright eyes of eager, sincerely grateful students is so purely wonderful that you wish you could somehow contain it and carry it with you always.

I have to learn a lot of new teaching methods and theory here, mostly concerning teaching elementary math concepts. I'm so well versed in Algebra I and beyond that I was a little overwhelmed with how much I didn't know about teaching the fundamentals of mathematics. It's scary, but also exciting.

I have a few "courses" I have to complete in order to raise my pay grade and to become a fully certified instructor by Mathnasium standards to help me get caught up. I'm really impressed by their system. What I've learned is that for the most part their theory is very close to what I practiced in the classroom. It's kind of like someone was able to clearly articulate my entire teaching philosophy without any input from me. After a year of doubting myself and self-loathing, this experience has provided some much needed validation.

While I'm contractually obligated to not divulge any specifics of this company's system, I hope to use this opportunity to develop new lesson ideas and insights into our great profession.

If you're in the Rio Grande Valley area and looking for a program like this for your children and/or students, please email me and I'll point you in the right direction. You know your kids will be in good hands!