written by Tom Beeman – Spanish tutor at Oxford Tutoring
Tutoring is a great experience for everyone involved in it. For the student, it gives them the added help they need either to close the learning gaps or to further their knowledge outside of what is provided in the classroom. But the positivity that comes from tutoring also applies to the tutor as well. Having been a tutor at Oxford for almost 3 years I have experienced these joys first-hand.
As a high school teacher, I do my best to reach all my students, but with the large numbers in each class, it is difficult to meet the individual needs to each student. However, tutoring gives me a great opportunity to spend a full hour just with one student focusing on the needs of only that student. Tutoring Spanish gives me the opportunity not just to assist with completing any assignments the student has, but it gives me an opportunity to re-teach the material to increase long-term retention and application of the language outside the classroom. It also allows me to provide additional resources for the student to use independently when he/she doesn’t have access to a teacher or tutor.
While I enjoy working with the student who comes in for a one-time session, my biggest satisfaction as a tutor comes from working with long-term students. This gives me time to assess the students’ skills as well as their needs to be able to help them reach their end goal. I’ve been fortunate to have a few students who I have been able to tutor over multiple school years. This long-term tutoring has allowed me to get to know my students’ learning style to better cater my tutoring to meet their needs. I have had the pleasure of seeing my students grow in their knowledge in the language and comfort level of using it as well. It’s great when I see a student engaging in the target language without being prompted. One example has to do with the difference between tennis vs. tennis shoes in Spanish. The difference between the two is minimal and the first time I taught this to one of my students, it was a serious learning moment. But over the course of time, it then became an inside joke between the two of us and one of us would bring it up any time sports-related vocabulary would appear.
But to me, being a tutor is not just about helping students with their academics. It’s also about building a professional rapport with them to help with the whole person. You get to know their favorite subjects, extracurricular activities they participate in at school, their college and career goals, etc. Understanding their personalities allows me tailor how I tutor them so that they are learning in a way in which they understand best and they feel like they are being heard. By helping them with their long-term goals, they become more enthusiastic about tutoring and are more likely to succeed. It’s great when these students come back after they no longer need tutoring or have graduated from school and tell stories about how they were in a situation where they are able to communicate in Spanish.
For me, tutoring is a natural extension of my career as a teacher. I enjoy working with my tutoring students and seeing them grow as much as I do my classroom students. One day, I hope they will see the value of tutoring and will become tutors themselves so that they can help others just as I have helped them.
About the Author: A credentialed teacher, Tom Beeman tutors Spanish 1 -3 and Spanish AP. He enjoys working one-on-one with his students to help them learn that it is possible to become fluent in a second language. When he is not tutoring, he enjoys spending time with his friends and attending teacher conferences to improve his skills as a teacher and a tutor.