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17 June 2008

MY EXPERIMENTS AT MENTORING STUDENTS

Students prepare for their exams in different ways. Some need a tutor to help them get through to the next class and some are good on their own, but it is today's competition that scares every parent into hiring the best of tutors. Even if a student is getting 75% or more,the parent thinks that with tuitions,their precious should get 100%. All my students study in excellent schools and do very well on their own. But, what they really need is more of a mentor than a tutor. Guidance in study skills,blending of traditional with modern methods of study, and most importantly, they need someone to listen. Influence of a quality tutor is very important at this stage, for students unconsciously imbibe varied methods of study habits in addition to values.
Over the years, I have understood that every student has a different style of studying according to the school they go to. This is because the teachers of the particular school adopt a particular method of teaching for their students and moulding them. For example, the writing style of students in India is mainly cursive, whereas my NRI students had the print style(separate letters). American students hold their pens differently. A couple of students that were enrolled in the so called international schools did not have a legible handwriting,nor did they have spelling skills,simply because they had been taught to use the computer keyboard to type a YES or NO for their multiple choice questions throughout primary and middle school. When it was time to take exams from the 7th standard onwards, they are not equipped with correct spelling or handwriting. Furthermore, they developed cold feet. Parents are always kept in the dark regarding their academics, as books remain in school and they are discouraged from teaching their children at home.Such schools emphasize on sports rather than academics.There should be a healthy balance between the two for overall development of mind and body.
The traditional method of "learning by rote" works best for the average student, whereas a student who is made to understand the basic concepts of subjects like science and maths will really apply his mind in answering any type of question pertaining to that topic. In short, the student develops self confidence and is also able to teach his classmates. Modern methods utilized are the powerpoint presentations,and animated software used in some schools.Teachers are still new to the idea that they have to keep abreast of technology and use it in the classroom to be highly effective.
While teaching languages,English,Hindi and Kannada, I find that students pick up much faster if they are made to pronounce correctly as they write. All three faculties of hearing,seeing and speaking are being used effectively to learn a new language. Watching animated stories in the particular language also helps vocabulary building.Teaching sciences,mathematics,geography and several other subject topics can be much more interesting when students are allowed to watch animated videos of the said subject and the particular topic.With this in mind, and the need for our students to understand and perform better at their grades, I have been researching the internet for free educational videos and collecting them for students at
Visual Learning. Glad to say that my students find them very useful and their learning time is cut in half.This site also offers them a key to several useful websites for homeworkhelp.Several free education sites are also reviewed for use.
Listening is extremely important as a tutor/mentor.Some students express certain things about school or their friends which can be tactfully utilized in instilling good values toward family and society. Sometimes it is imperative to let the parents know.
Parents also most often take a tutor into confidence as their children sometimes do not tell them everything, or they know a teacher's words has a greater effect in making their child eat his veggies or drink milk or simply sit and study after the tutoring session.
Suggested Reading: Finding a Quality Home Tutor
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