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Tutoring bullying victims, my experience as a tutor.

Lusiana (@uglylusiana)

Something quite peculiar has happened to me this October, Bullying Prevention Month, and I feel like it would do some good to share it with you all who have pledged to fight bullying in your daily life with #RiseAgainstBullies.
I have been actively working as a private tutor for a couple of years but I have been doing it occasionally since I started High School. This year, though, I had decided not to take any student under my wings because I am one exam from getting my degree in Physics and I want to concentrate on that. Sometimes, though, there are requests you can't say no to, especially if you are indicated as the only one for the job. It is quite flattering, and I have an ego too, after all.
So here I am, tutoring this beautiful girl, smart eyes, sweet smile and the most terrible self esteem problem on the Earth. She is basically scared of answering to any question in fear of mistakes, looking at me waiting for the bad words to come out of my mouth and saying “I am not good at anything” introducing herself to me. I couldn't say no because this girl needs me, and she is teaching me the worst lasting effects bullying can have on a child's learning capability.
Her relationship with school is like mine with heights, I freeze in fear one meter away from a balcony rail, she freezes in fear the moment she is called to answer a question. So much that she has convinced herself that she can't learn anything, even stopping trying at some point.
Probably someone has convinced her that she is no good, or too slow, at some point. Maybe a school mate or a friend at one of those awful group tutoring classes. That's why I am totally against group tutoring.

Everyone learns with a different pace and technique. I have some friends who had serious problems at school but then graduated with honors from college, that's because they got the chance to prove them selves when they could finally decide the pace, way and what to study individually. What I am trying to say is that in a class there will be many different minds, all of them set to pick on information in a different way. Someone could be a faster learner and maybe forget information sooner and someone could be slower but keep info for life. Someone could remember the exact words of a page just reading them once, some other will remember the pictures and colors. The key of teaching is being able to understand all those different possibilities your children have and teach them to use them. Yes, it is not easy, above all in a crowded class (Italian classes can get to 32 students), that's why there are tutors. That's why I always recommend individual tutoring.

Keeping little secrets. Being totally afraid of her school mates and teachers, my new student stays silent when she loses the point during a lesson which means she has a big bargain of holes in her knowledge, from maths to foreign languages. I am experimenting a little technique, I asked her to bring a clean notebook, one she won't take to school with her. It will be ours only. We will use that to exercise on old things she is not confident on, avoiding them to be on her usual notebook which could fall under the eyes of her classmates and friends. She looked absolutely enthusiast of the idea, which says a lot about her life at school.

Bursting self esteem. Every little step is an improvement so never restrain from praising the effort. I am basically always saying “Good”, “You are doing great”, “You are getting there” and, boy, aren't those smiles she gives back praise enough for my work? But, as simple as it can sound, it works. So praise their work and they will work harder. Believe in them and they will believe in them selves.

Tutoring for me is a win-win situation because I am teaching and learning. It gives me great satisfaction to know that I am helping someone to appreciate them selves but, truthfully, it really angers me how the schooling system still can't work for the weakest, but only for the strongest. It is easy to teach to someone who can basically learn by them selves. That one child, the silent and shy one, the one you can't even remember the name of. Well, that child is your mission. If they get to learn, everyone else will, not only school subjects, but possibly some big life lessons.


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