08 October 2013

America Reads 2013-2014 Blog Prompt 2

ATTN: America Reads Tutors


What are the challenges to being an America Reads tutor? What are you doing to overcome these challenges?  Do you have any advice for others for how to make this easier?

73 comments:

  1. As far as right now I don't face any challenges that I can think of. Right now at Whittier we are practicing how to take the Dibbles reading test they need to take. So I am having each student in one class read for one minute as much as they can. While marking the words they missed or skipped. One challenge actually would be I faced was that we didn't have enough testing books for the kids. But I overcame this by just making a set of copies for four students. It has been interesting to watch how the kids improve or how they don't.
    I haven't had the opportunity to actually sit down with the kids and help their reading skills get better. I feel that in order for them to get better I should be put to use by doing that. I don't see the point so much right now for the Dibbles practice test that I'm doing if the kids aren't reading. Will see what happens..
    MM

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    1. I understand what you mean. I also don't like to test them because my advanced readers just fly by the words not paying attention to what they are reading and my beginners would get nowhere in the test if they have to sound out each word. Yes, it is so great to see what progress one can make with the one-on-one tutoring.

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    2. Maria, it is great to see their progress! To see that the work you are doing with the children is making a difference. I think there is no better feeling. I am sure going through the hard part (Dibbles) because they have to do this testing to find out where the kids are - then you start working with them and do it again at the end of the year, I think you are going to have a great surprise in store for you!

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    3. Karla, yes the advanced ones do read pretty quick and then the ones's who aren't so good sometimes all they do is sound out the word and not even say the whole word. Just sounds. Some students even make up the whole story, just running their finger along the lines :/

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    4. Anna, thanks for the input. I wasn't sure if this is all I was going to be doing. I was expecting to start reading with the kids as soon as I started. I didn't know they did these test twice a year either.But then again this was the first time I heard of the Dibbles test. I am looking forward to seeing some good changes in these kids! =)

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    5. I'm glad this has been easy sailing for you! I think the kids need practice taking the test because if you don't know what is expected on the test, how can you be sure to pass it? I remember taking practice reading tests all the time when I was in school, and I was grateful because it helped me with my test taking skills. I can see why you are concerned, though, because personally, I think these kids should be learning to read not just learning how to take a test.

      -Raevynne

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    6. Maria, it is wonderful to know that you are also a tutor at Whittier. Since I am tutoring in a classroom this ear and not in the reading center like last year I do not get the chance to see and talk with the other America Reads tutors at the elementary. It is great that you are helping the students prepare for the dibles it is really important because how they score will determine what help they need in their literacy. I hope, too that we will be able to do more reading and tutoring sessions with the children now that the testing has commenced. It is so fun to see their skills increase as we work with them individually.
      LSH

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    7. Hi Maria, thank for sharing you experiences with tutoring, I agree on what you wrote about the more efficient way to improve reading skill, which is to sit down and read with kids. I think the Dibbles practice test is not too bad, it gives the kids the chance to practice reading even harder and they would be proud when they pass the test.
      Quynh Pham

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    8. I agree. Everyone has a different challenge.Khadra

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    9. The education system has some flaws. One of them is the huge class sizes with so many different levels of children. Some are slow learners yet have a very high IQ. Some are very fast learners and they get bored easily. Some children fall through the cracks, like those whom we are teaching to read that already should have that skill set. If nothing else, at least you are getting a bigger picture of the day-to-day flow of the school, and where you can use your talents and abilities most effectively. Thanks for your comment Maria!

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  2. I know this sounds phony but the truth is I have no challenges to be a tutor. Being a tutor is challenging to me as a person because I need to keep fresh on the latest methods of motivation and teaching styles which i love. This program is amazing for taking every obstacle into account and having a solution already. The only advise I can give to anyone is enjoy what you do and utilize the Thayne Center staff. Whatever your issue is they can help you overcome it.

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    1. I don't think you are being phony at all..I know you have a love of the kids and what you do, and because of that tutoring comes natural to you. Keep up the good work!

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    2. I can feel how passionate you are, and it shows in your lack of challenges. Everyone should heed Constance's advice: The Thayne Center is there to help! Keep doing what you do because you make the world a better place. :)

      -Raevynne

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    3. I think it a good thing that your always up to date on teaching methods and always trying different ways to teach the kids how to read, your a natural!
      C.D.

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    4. I just wish I was better at coming up with amazing solutions. It usually takes me a little bit to come up with a solution that will work for everybody, but always get the hang of it.

      H.K.

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    5. I too am a little concerned about "being up" on the new styles of teaching but am enjoying learning as well as teaching what I learn. Yes, the Thayne Center Staff is great to work with in any problems that may arise.

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    6. I like your thought on methods teaching and motivating, it does not only need in educating kids but also can be applied to every other tasks and to ourselves as well. It is a challenge because each kid is different in personality and so, they might need different method of teaching and motivating.
      Quynh

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    7. Constance,

      You don't sound like a phony at all! In fact, I can tell that you are definitely passionate about what you do. I need to work on the latest teaching methods out there because like most of the tutors it takes me a while to figure out what the child needs and what I can do to help them learn the material better.

      S.Tukunga

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    8. Yippee!! You are an awesome example of experience and dedication. I am sure that you have in the past, and still do, face challenges. It is a great lesson though: as we stick through something because of a higher calling or purpose or motivation, the "challenges" seem to fade because our ability to accomplish has increased. Thanks for your comment Constance!!

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  3. I always heard that English was a hard language to learn. I didn't pay much attention to it until I came to Nibley and tried to explain to kids why we don't pronounce the 'e' at the end of the word or why 'though' is pronounced differently than "thought" or why the combination of the letters 'ea' is sometimes pronounced differently. I have a couple beginners and I have tried to make it fun for them to come read with me. I'm always enthusiastic and happy to be with them and I hope that its contagious. So far it has been great. They are making progress and I am so excited.

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    1. I know how you feel. I have to explain the rules of English to my children at home. They often use the wrong spelling of words that sound the same. I was looking over my daughter's homework the other day and had to have her change "there" to "their" in reference to ownership. I grew up with the English language and never thought too much about its complication, but teaching it certainly makes its complications more noticeable.

      KL

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    2. I posted a reply and it disappeared so I hope this is not a duplicate. I too have found it interesting teaching the sounds (phonics) to the children and I even I taught Kindergarten for 3 years and still find it hard to remember the why's and how's when teaching my 2 and 3 year old. But all in all I think they appreciate having someone try to explain and taking the time to chat with them about it. I think it's great that you are so excited and bring that excitement to the classroom with you, I'm sure they feel the energy and get excited too. Something they will not forget too soon.

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    3. It's true isn't it English can be a hard language for sure!! And I really didn't know how or why until last year and there was this tutor lady Marie who had her very own reading and phonics lessons made up, she really knew a lot about the language and she said that they way English is taught and the "rules" sometimes used to teach it do not always apply to every word with the same letter combinations like ea for instance which you said. It can be very misleading and confusing sometimes but can't that be just about everything lol. These children have such a large capacity to read and learn and I am just glad that we've got this opportunities to help them in literacy in the many ways that we can.
      LSH

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    4. I was experiencing that today as I tried to explain some phonics to a 2nd grader. It is difficult explaining the rules of phonics. I love it when the student just looks and you and just continues on sounding out those words. I know they will eventually get it!

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    5. Karla,

      I understand where you're coming from because I too, struggled with having to teach my little 6 yr old brother how to read and its a challenge depending on how much materials or knowledge you have in teaching. I try to make it fun for him because like most 6 yr olds they are easily distracted and the only way to keep them engaged is to make it fun for them. I try to tell little stories about the letters and the different sounds that they make.

      -S. Tukunga

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    6. English is hard to learn when you come from a different country. I arrived from Syria English is not often spoken in Syria when I came i knew the alphabet, how to say hi, when people talked to me I did not know a single things. Educations hard in the middle east and very different no grades just a final or exam if you flunk you repeat the class even a first grader. So the children may be afraid that will happen to them here.

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    7. Haha, great point! When I began, this was such a huge plight for me too! As I looked back at my personal reading journey, I realized that straight memorization was how I survived so much of it. I would listen to how others said the word that I couldn't figure out or was unfamiliar with, then I would just say/read it like others did. It wasn't until I was college age that I began to really investigate words in the dictionary. Some children have really poor memory skills, and they seem to be the ones that I tutor the most. Phonetics is a great way to create a foundation, then it's up to them to just remember all the screwed up words when a methodology no longer suffices. Thanks for your comment Karla!

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  4. I think that the biggest challenge is just learning how to be an effective tutor and then applying what you've learned. Once you get used to how it all works, it really isn't that difficult. It helps to listen to or observe seasoned tutors and follow what they do until you get a feel for it. Biggest thing, just do it.

    KL

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    1. I am looking forward to learning from and being able to ask help from seasoned tutors, like yourself.

      H.P.

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  5. I agree, I wished my schedule would allow more time for me this year to be more involved, but hopefully that will change her soon and I will be able to meet with the kids at Whittier Elementary..

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    1. I feel the same way. I wish I could be at Whittier as much as I could. But it is a bit difficult with nursing school. I do enjoy being around the kids and seeing how they interact and learn. I want to be the best that I can in tutoring and I'm learning how to do things I didn't know before.

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    2. I'm having the same problem. It's tricky, but the kids need us! It almost kills me not being there this semester. :( Good luck to you in the future!

      -Raevynne

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    3. I haven't really seen the kids but I bet the are wonderful. I wish I could come to tutor earlier but I ran into some problems but I'm glad there alot of experience tutors like you guys!
      C.D.

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    4. It's true. Getting down to tutor is sometimes a hassle. I just kind of tell myself that I have an obligation to be there. This is a good way to get myself out of bed.

      A Stuart

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  6. I have just started and so far it's great. I am not sure what challenges I may face in the future. I know that I wish I could spend more time in the classroom with the children and be able to help more than just one or two at a time while I am there. Having taught Kindergarten and tutored throughout my older children's lives I know what I'm doing and I am familiar with everything the children are doing in the classroom. I am excited to be at Whittier and the only thing right now that challenges me is finding enough time in the day to do all I want to do :)

    AV

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    1. Yep! I think it's pretty much the same for everyone. I am only tutoring two children at the moment. I absolutely love what I do, but being in school full time and being in two other programs can definitely put a bit of damper on my tutoring schedule.

      H.K.

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    2. Welcome! I would definitely suggest learning from seasoned tutors. I am on my second year of tutoring and would be happy to show anyone the ropes.

      A Stuart

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  7. I haven't been able to tutor this semester due to scheduling conflicts. Instead, I am working in the Thayne Center, which is great because I get to learn about lot of wonderful resources for people that I had no idea existed. However, I am excited to have everyone's thoughts about tutoring so I can be extra prepared for it next semester. If you plan to tutor, make sure your schedule lines up with the school's schedule. Don't make your classes too late in the evening, or you won't be able to find time to sleep, especially if you rely on public transit.

    -Raevynne

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    1. I didn't know we could work in the Thayne Center?! That pretty cool! I know how bad it is with the schedule conflicts, I'm only able to tutor on M,W, and T for three hours each!

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    2. That's awesome Raevynne! I think it is really neat that you get to work in a different setting. Being a women of all trades can be very helpful when going about your everyday life.

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    3. I think its awesome that you are working in the Thayne Center, what a great learning experience. You will be a great asset when you become a tutor.

      H.P.

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  8. If anything tutoring has been challenging so far this year because of the many changes in my own life and in the school I tutor at. There are lots of changes, challenges and opportunities for growth everywhere. And this year is not necessarily harder just different. Now I am a tutor and curriculum assistant in a classroom, still working with first graders, the teacher is still finding how to fully utilize my time there and I too am figuring out how to be the most help in there. It is very enjoyable and I am definitely learning and doing a lot. I do miss the one-on-one reading tutor session with phonics we would do last year, I feel they got much accomplished for the childs' literacy.Hopefully we'll see some of that later on now the testings done. So far I am loving the way this semester has gone, The Thayne Center, the elementary and the students, everyone is just really great!
    LSH

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  9. I say my biggest challenge is getting there since I don't have a car and my uncle have to drive me back and forth. My uncle is old so his health ain't always good making it hard to go tutoring. I am looking for a car and have found one so hopefully I'll be driving down there soon without the help of my uncle and as for advice for others I don't have any since I just started myself.
    C.D.

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    1. Congratulations on the new car Carolyn! I hope that it makes it easier for you to get to and from school and your tutoring elementary. M, W and T is really quite a full schedule and I am sure the teacher and staff as well as the students are very excited and happy to have you. Good luck with everything this year!
      LSH

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    2. Carolyn - I know how that feels not having transportation to get there. A couple of years ago when I was working as a nurse I didn't have a working car at the time and was trying to support a family of 5 (now 6). Its really hard and it seems that people start getting irritated with you if you ask them more then a couple of times for a ride somewhere.....but I'm sure you already know this. I'm glad to hear you found a car. Good Luck with everything.
      Brian

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    3. Carolyn, I know how it feel when you have to depend on someone for a ride. I don't have a car too, so I go to tutor at Whittier elementary because I can get on a B-line and get there. It takes me 1.5 hours traveling for each 2 hours tutoring. I know it worth as I chose to this.
      Quynh

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  10. This is my second semester tutoring at Nibley, and it has by far been the most difficult semester yet. I am tutoring a second grader who just recently moved to the US. He is incredibly smart and works very hard, but he greatly struggles with pronunciation of difficult sounds. The "S" and "Sh" sound are particularly difficult for him. He also has a bad habit of adding words to the book that are not there. Even though he loves reading fast, I have started having him greatly slow down how fast he reads. When he slows down, he is more aware of what he is actually reading verses what he thinks he is reading. He especially hates sounding words out, but after talking to him, realizes that this is an important part of bettering his reading skills. I have already seen great improvement, and I am looking forward to the day that I do not have to tell him to slow down or to sound the word out, because that will mean I have made a positive difference in his life.

    H.K.

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    1. I am so glad that you are working at Nibley too, I feel like I can go to you and ask for help.

      H.P.

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  11. I think that one of the biggest challenge that I have faced personally, is taking the mom out of it and not getting personally involved in the students life's. How I am overcoming this challenge for me, is caring but caring professionally not personally. I am also collecting donations to give to the whole school, which makes me feel that I am also making a school wide difference than not. I think some advice that I would give would be pay attention, and care to help the students to be better readers and remembering to comprehend what they read.

    H.P.

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    1. Kudos to you for collecting donations. They can definitely use.

      A Stuart

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  12. For me this is my first year tutoring, I was quite nervous that I won't be able to connect to the children I'm tutoring and whether or not I could help them understand what they need to know to read well. But as I read with the children that I'm tutoring, I find easily the words that they have trouble, either in pronouncing or not knowing, and I try working on those sounds with them. My advice write down words that they miss and if they constantly miss it review it with them. At Nibley I got this sheet that has many words sound and I use that to help the kid get use to seeing how the sound is the same just with different letter at the front.
    M.C.

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    1. I was nervous at first also but have found that if you just let the student know that you care about them and want to assist them in becoming a better reader they are very receptive to that. Just be their friend and make learning fun!

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    2. M.C., I think that's a fantastic idea to write down the words that the kids miss. It seems like it will help the kids better in that it is much more organized and we aren't just forgetting the ones they missed and moving onto the next.
      Brian

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  13. My biggest challenge right now is working with the 7th and 8th graders in Math tutoring. When did they change the rules of how we do math? I totally don't remember learning any of this type of stuff when I was in school. I have been going and actually listening to the lecture in the class and seem to be learning right along with the students. I am also tutoring two 2nd graders in reading and I am thoroughly enjoying that. I am seeing both of them make progress and love it when they are excited to come and learn with me. I also go over to Nibley Park a couple times a week and do the after-school mentoring program, assisting 2nd graders with their homework and doing different activities with them. This is an area that they need volunteers in. I am enjoying my experience as an America Reads Tutor.
    LAC

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    1. LAC, I can definitely see how working with the older children might be intimidating. I remember back when I was their age I felt invincible and no one could tell me how to do anything especially math. I like how you are willing to admit that you don't remember some of the things that you are supposed to be teaching them. I think it is great that you see the challenge and instead of giving up you are sitting in on other classes and learning from them.

      JA

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  14. Strange as it may seem, I can't really think of anything that I find very difficult about tutoring this semester. I've gotten into the groove of things and I'm feeling confident that this will be a good semester.

    A Stuart

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  15. I haven't worked with these particular kids yet but from past experience I can tell you that its a challenge to get the kids to listen to you sometimes. You have to earn their respect and trust. During hard times when they just won't listen you just have to push through and keep going. Things will always get better! Always! Brian

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  16. My greatest challenge so far has been not having enough time with them. I meet with 2 students just twice a week, and feel we could make so much more progress if we met more. But I can read well, so it is hard to see them struggle. I know that they can catch up and be good readers and good students, I just have to remember to be patient and that football for my third-grader is higher on his list of priorities than reading. I just want to have them see reading can be enjoyable, and they can do well at it.
    What I am doing about this is to be as productive as I can during those 30 minutes, and structure my time. That third-grader I was talking about, he always asks to play a game. I have compromised my getting out a white board and we play hangman for the last few minutes.
    It was very rewarding this past week. In the book we were reading was the word "continent." I asked him what he thought it meant and he did not know. So we went over to the globe in the classroom and I showed him the different continents. Then we went back to the table and talked about things that are associated with each one....polar bears in Antarctica, kangaroos in Australia, etc. So it was very neat to see that those situations will help with their reading, when they can associate a word with an example we talked about.
    Sorry for the rambling:) Good luck!
    Emma

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    1. Emma, I think it is great that you recognize that time is so important. Maybe with you only being allotted an certain amount of time you should find the things that most interest the students and focus in on that as well as the things that might be most difficult for them. You seem to like what you are doing and that is great because the children will be able to pick up on your positive energy. Keep it up.

      JA

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  17. Emma - I think its a great thing that you feel that sense of urgency with the kids to help them. I think that says a lot about your character and shows that you really care; that you're not just doing it for the work study hours. That said, I know it can be hard not having all the time you really want to spend with them, but you are giving them a great advantage and we have many good people in this America Reads program to spend time with them as well. You're doing great!
    Brian

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  18. Maria, I think it sounds like you are headed in the right direction. I think that being a tutor will give you a chance to really get to know a diverse group of kids and I'm sure you will teach them a lot as well as them teaching you things along the way.

    JA

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  19. I have not yet been a tutor but I am excited to get in there and work with these children. As a father I feel that I will have a lot to bring to the table and will also be able to take home with me what works and what does not. I am going to take in a great attitude and a willingness to help these children out in any way that I can. They say that children are our future and it sounds cheesy but lets start right here in our local schools.

    JA

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  20. I help kinder garden kids with reading alphabet letters, and help after school kids with reading book. Tutoring kids is a total new experience to me, new task, new environment and new challenge. It's a real challenge to me. I still remember the first time I came was during a snack time before after school program, and I just sit quietly there in a long lunch table with a big group of kids. I observed them, asking myself how to respond to this. My mind was empty because I get so used to what people tell me to do, so it's strange feeling when I just sit quietly in the middle of a crow and constantly I wondered what to do. Then I found out that don't know how to talk to a kids. Tutoring is not just about reading and doing what you support to do, but I wish I can be a part of that environment, let it be a part of me, and then I can put all my mind and love improve it better. Kids are all adorable, innocent I really love watching them, love to hear their voice reading me a book.
    Quynh

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    1. Quynh,
      I admire the fact that you shared your feelings about your experience, and the children. I'm sure the kids love having you there, I mean as a child seeing a "big kid/tutor" volunteering from a different descent shows that anyone can grow and go to college. I think its important for children to have a variety of people come in and help them, exposing them to diversity while inspiring them to do well is a kep factor to succeeding in anything anywhere.

      Another reason I find it important is because some children don't acknowledge diversity as much as others. For example, the little girl I am tutoring when I was walking with her to the library she ran into one of her classmates I asked him his name he said it quietly. Then the little girl says "what language do you speak?" (&& in my head I was like OMG you can't just ask people what language they speak) "He speaks a different language" she said (He was obviously of Asian descent) &&& SHE KEPT ASKING HIM!! He looked at her like she was weird, without responding. I didn'y know what to say! I honestly was appalled that she addressed her classmate in that manner, yet I found it kind of funny. I mean their kids they don't really know that you can;t go around asking that, and the little boy seemed to understand since he just brushed it off like nothing happened.

      Anyways we to the library and I sat with both of them on a U.S.A map and they each found a state they liked and sat there for (for a sec.) Then they decided to look at magazines and they seemed fine, like nothing happened. Although the little girl is kind of bossy and makes many remarks it was interesting to see them interact with one another. I wish I had the write words for these priceless moment, but I believe that that little knows understand that some people are just not educated in that manner yet. Therefore, letting life take its course.

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  21. A challenge I face as America Reads tutor is finding enough time to spend with a child. This semester I am only there once a week so I only see children on a weekly basis. I have this one student this semester that is sort of a challenge. She barely knows the sounds of the alphabet but wont sound out words (which is odd to me.) She will only guess what the word is or give up, but she likes to play games of course. It's been difficult to her to focus and I think I need to invest in some different strategies.

    It sucks because I feel like if I could invest more time and see her more often I could help her more effectively. It unfortunate because she's so cute and feel of energy I just wish she could show that in her reading.

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    1. I wonder if she knows the sounds of the alphabet. Maybe if you said them than had her repeat it she would be more willing too. S.C.

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  22. What are the challenges to being an America Reads tutor? What are you doing to overcome these challenges? Do you have any advice for others for how to make this easier?

    I don't really have any challenges as a tutor, I work with the after school program and many of the kids there are really good with their math and reading. I only can find about two kids there that need a little help with their homework and that's every week. But, it's really fun to get to listen to their stories and how they interact with each other. Kids are so loving by nature they can befriend any stranger that walks through the door and that's the best part about my job, is getting to know each individual student and interacting with them. My only advice to the other tutors is be careful around the young ones because they can get really clingy and you have to be firm and set the boundaries so that they know what is an acceptable hug and what isn't.

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  23. I really have alot of challenges. I am trying to graduate from SLCC and but I do not know if I will be able to do it because I have a family problem. I love to read because English is not my formal language. I faced allot of problems when I cam to the US as Arabic is my formal language. I love helping kids because when I came here I did not have anyone to help me. I love helping little kids learn. khadra hassan

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  24. One challenge that I have had is consistency. I would over-commit to hours, then not be able to handle the crazy schedule. Then I would let the students and other faculty/tutors down by not showing up. The guilt was horrible. Once I am able to get a consistent schedule down that works for everybody, and then sticking to it, everything flows much better and I don't let anybody down because I'm too stressed. The tutoring is instinctual, and the more you do it and experience different situations, the more we will know how to handle things, and what works and what doesn't. I love my little ones!!!!

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  25. My challenge was fitting my class schedule in with my work schedule. To work through it I had to keep changing my schedule till I was able to find the right one that worked with me, Sherri the supervisor was willing to help me work around my schedule with school to help find the best fit for me.
    S.C.

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  26. before I start working for America reads I have worked in elementary school as a volunteer. however it was not in America, so that I thought It might be different and challenging for me to teach in here. but I actually got it easy and I realized that all kids are the same. they are curious and fun who wants to know everything. this makes me to work hard and be a good guide for the children.

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  27. The challenges I had was, how do I begin this tutoring. I went to the class room and talked with the teacher I was appointed to. She gave me one student to work with. The teacher already had a box for me with things to work with. Now I have 16 students and two classrooms. I really enjoy this tutoring program. Don't let fear overtake you. I'm 57 years old, and I still have fear of challenges.

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