A Letter from Lena Rabinovich, English Tutor
Dear Prospective Student or Student’s Parent,
One of my favorite teaching moments happened several years ago. I was an eighth grade teacher, and in the end of another hectic day, one of my students approached me.
“I am failing your class,” she said.
“True,” I admitted wearily.
“I can’t fail,” she said.
I looked up. This was Kacie. Most days in class, she was brushing her hair or putting on makeup or drawing. She had managed to earn about 50 percent, and there were two weeks left in the quarter.
“You realize the quarter is almost over,” I said.
“I know. I will do anything.”
So I told her that if she read Lord of the Flies (our class novel) and demonstrated her understanding of it, I would pass her. So Kacie started reading. Every day she would stay after school, we would read a bit together, and then she would read alone while writing page summaries on sticky notes. We would discuss the chapter before I left for the day. She finished the book, and I kept my word. I changed her 50 percent to 70.
Kacie’s behavior in class also changed. No longer was she doodling or fixing her hair. She was with us during discussions. She was listening. The first assignment of the following quarter was an essay, and she was determined to do well. Together, we brainstormed ideas, wrote an outline, and went through several drafts before she and I were finally satisfied. Sitting together in my classroom that afternoon, I asked Kacie what she learned.
“I learned that I can accomplish anything I want if I work hard,” she said.
I smiled, for this was the best thank you she could offer.
Kacie’s story perfectly summarizes my goals when I work with each of my students. I teach them to be good readers and writers, but I also want them to gain confidence and to walk out of my house happier than when they walked in. To reach this goal, I get to know each student as an individual, seek to find literature each will enjoy, and tailor grammar and written work so it is both challenging and accessible. However, most importantly, I care deeply about each of my students, always praise them for a job well done, and challenge them to keep learning and growing.
Thank you for reading,