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So. Kids.

I did my first for-class-credit tutoring today.

I’m working at a charter school here in Memphis, two afternoons per week, for an hour an a half (or so, depending on what needs to be done afterward), and today I worked with third graders and fifth graders, in math.

We’re giving diagnostic tests this week to see where they are, academically, so that we can set the tone for the rest of the semester/year in terms of what we teach them.

The third graders were in “let’s test the new people” mode.

One girl was so funny…she was already warned by the tutoring supervisor that if anything was reported back, she was in deep trouble, because she’s apparently just one of those girls who does terrible things all the time to get attention (no, seriously – I mean, wow).

We (my teaching partner and myself – she’s pretty cool, and I think I’m going to really enjoy working with her) led the kids into the room, sat them down, began passing out tests, answer sheets, and papers, and were giving instructions, when I hear a weird noise from the corner of the room and see this special child pulling a face at me.  The weird noise was the sound effect she was making to “compliment” the face.  It was quite stunning…I shall try to replicate it for you:

Seriously. Beautiful, isn’t it?

The noise was something along the lines of, “urrrrrrrrrrrrr…” in a strange, strangled whisper.

I looked straight at her, shook my head, and she gave me a look that was very clearly, “Oh, NO, you didn’t!”  I did what I do to my babysitting charge in these cases, and stared her down with wide eyes and my “keep pushing me” look:

It only takes two seconds. Then I relax and move on with my day, because come ON, people, I can’t spend all afternoon scaring children.

She immediately clammed up and looked down at her test.  (The effect on Bean is that she holds perfectly still and just stares back – since I’m usually trying to change her diaper at this time, her holding still is the desired effect, and seconds later, it’s over, and we’re back to being buddies, again.)

Here’s the funny part:  I kept turning around to look at her, because she’s freakin’ 8 years old, and 8-year-old children don’t let things go when they think someone’s gotten the best of them.

Sure enough, every time I looked, her face would be half-screwed-up and she would quickly pretend like she had something in her eye.

My tutoring partner had to turn around so that the student wouldn’t see her laughing.  I kept giving the Deathstare in small doses, and at the end of class, let her know that while I appreciated the attention she was giving me, I would appreciate it more if she gave the same attention to her work.  She looked sufficiently embarrassed, but quickly forgot it (and her manners) and proceeded to jump around like a wild animal while were were lining the kids up in the hall for their class switch.

When two of her table-mates were finished with their tests, she was VERY interested in what they had to say.  She didn’t finish her test, needless to say, but we’re working on it, again, Thursday, so we’ll see how she does, then, especially once she’s separated from her clique.

The rest of the kids were…well, they’re 8.  They had to sharpen their pencils, go to the restroom, and do anything else that didn’t involve what they were supposed to be doing.  They’re testing their boundaries.

I suspect it’ll take a bit, but we’ll be able to impress upon them that the kids who behave will get more attention in the future.  I hope that helps, because lordy, this is just re-affirming my desire to NOT teach elementary-aged children.


The 5th graders were ridiculously quiet in comparison.  It could have been because we had 8 fewer students, but those two years of age difference are phenomenal.  None of them finished their tests (again, we’re finishing Thursday), but they were quiet, did what they were supposed to, and we only had issues with a couple of kids.


My teaching partner (she’s in my classes, as well) told me I acted like I’d done this, before.  I told her that, compared to getting a bunch of college students to try to listen to you, kids were a snap, because while they think they know everything, they’re easier to outsmart.  She got a kick out of that, but it’s true.

I think I’m going to enjoy this.  I just have to find a more efficient way of hiding my tattoo, because it’s freakin’ hot in those classrooms, and wearing a sweater is not going to cut it.  Blech.


I’m partially writing about this because it’s interesting, and partly because I have to record it for class, anyway, so it’ll be nice to have this to look at, later, once I’m doing my portfolio stuff.


4 comments to So. Kids.