Tutoring without responsibility

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I’ve grown to appreciate something very significant about my current tutoring gig.

Just to refresh people, I’m tutoring math and sciences at a local community college. The tutoring happens in a large study room, with students summoning tutors to their table when they run into difficulty with some problem or concept, and we spend five to 15 minutes helping the student with their question.

This is in marked contrast to my experience as a tutor in college, when I usually worked with a student all quarter/semester long, helping them with a class week after week. This often resulted in a considerable sense of responsibility. If the student didn’t do well on the test or got a lousy final grade, I felt really awful about it. I felt like I had a real responsibility to make sure the student scored well. When a student came to me for a tutoring session and said, “I got a F on the test”, I felt personally responsible for it.

My current tutoring experience has none of that! (yay!)
I only see students for small bits of time, helping them with convenient bite-sized chunks of problems or topics. I don’t feel responsible for explaining an entire chapter, or preparing them for an entire test or anything like that. I come in, answer their questions and scurry away. And a lot of the students end up talking with multiple tutors in a single day. I’m merely a tool available for the students to utilize (or not). If they come in and say “I failed this test” I can get away with a sympathetic, “Aww, that’s too bad. Is there a specific problem you’d like to talk through and see if I can clarify for you?” No guilt, no responsibility.

All in all, it’s a difference that makes me pretty happy. 🙂

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