The Union Has Its Ups And Downs

| DE, USA | Family & Kids, Language & Words

(We play puzzle a trivia games between lessons at our tutoring center. One of the older students is reading clues from a card.)

Eleven-Year-Old: “A protest against employers is called a ____ ?”

Nine-Year-Old: “I don’t know.”

Teacher: “Yeah, you do. When the workers stop coming to work because they don’t like what the boss is doing they go on a what?”

Five-Year-Old: “A roller coaster!”

Nine-Year-Old: “No, a strike!”

Me: *cracks up imagining disgruntled workers going to an amusement park*


Fired For Fire

| San Diego, CA, USA | Bad Behavior, Teachers, Tutors

(While I was in high school, I signed up to be a paid tutor for math, where we sit in a classroom and help people that come in. There is always one math teacher in the room along with the tutors. Note: The fire alarm was bugging out and going off every ten minutes or so. An alarm is ringing.)

Teacher: “Okay, everyone up. We need to go outside.”

(This happens several more times and every time he orders us all outside, disrupting work. Later, the alarm rings again.)

Teacher: “Okay, everyone up. We need to go outside.”

Me: “Can’t we just stay inside? Clearly the alarm has a problem and there is no actual fire.”

Teacher: “NO, that is illegal and against the fire code.”

(We go outside, and then he asks to speak to me in private.)

Teacher: “I swear, if you try and cross me again I will have you kicked off the tutor program.”

(Later the alarm rings.)

Teacher: “You know what, guys? Why don’t we just bring out the desks into the hallway.”

(The kicker: If it were an actual fire, that would be illegal for blocking the way out for other students in that building.)


The Biggest Problem To Solve Is The Tutor

, | KY, USA | Lazy/Unhelpful, Tutors

(My university offers a free tutoring program where students who have previously taken any class — and had received at least a B — are hired to tutor students who come in for help in that particular course. I decide to get help for my math course because I’m struggling and can’t afford a private tutor. This happens when I finally get a tutor’s attention.)

Me: “Hi, I really don’t know how to solve this type of problem. How do I solve to get the derivative from this type of equation?”

Tutor #1: “Well… If you don’t know it, you probably don’t have to know it.”

Me: “What?”

Tutor #1: “If you don’t know how to solve it, you probably don’t need to know it for the exam.”

Me: *confused* “But-”

Tutor #1: *wanders off to help another student*

(This confused me, as the part of the problem I didn’t understand was exactly what the question was asking for. I wait for another tutor to finish helping another student before waving her over.)

Me: “Hi, can you please teach me how to solve for this?”

Tutor #2: *looks at the problem* “Oh, you just ignore that part.”

Me: “Ignore it? But then how do I solve it?”

Tutor #2: “I don’t know… Just look up how to do it. You’ll find an example somewhere online.”

Me: “…”

(It’s safe to say I left the tutoring center after that. Here’s hoping I don’t bomb the upcoming exam!)


They’ll Be All Rite

| Taiwan | Language & Words, Tutors

(I’m tutoring a student who tends to have trouble with his spelling.)

Student: “Hey, Teacher, how do you spell ‘write?’”

Me: “Which one?”

Student: “You know, w-r-i-t-e. Write.”


Don’t Be Para-Fazed By It

, | AZ, USA | Bad Behavior, Lazy/Unhelpful, Popular, Tutors

(I work in a campus learning center as a tutor. One thing tutors commonly experience is students who want you to give them the answers or fix their work for them so they can turn it in for a better grade without doing any work themselves. This is one of the reasons we only help students for 15 minutes at a time with the sessions spaced out by rotation, so they don’t become dependent. I am helping a student with a simple reading comprehension exercise and explaining the instructions.)

Me: “Okay, so this exercise is about paraphrasing. The instructions tell you to compare these three phrases to the original and identify which one is the best, which one is too similar to actually count as a paraphrase, and which one contains totally different or incorrect information. Okay?”

Student #1: “Okay.” *pointing* “What should I put for this one?”

Me: “Let’s compare it to the original sentence and decide which one you think it is.”

(The student grumbles at this, but reads through and marks them all “B” for best.)

Me: “Okay, I think you misunderstood. You are going to use each answer once for each problem without repeating. And ‘best’ means ‘better than all the others’, so by definition there can’t be more than one ‘best.’ So let’s try again.”

Student #1: “So I have to erase it and start over?!”

Me: “Well, yes, the problem is done incorrectly. The instructions are to use each answer once. Let’s start by looking for the one that is too different. Which phrase is saying something the first one doesn’t?”

Student #1: *after reading through the phrases again* “This one?”

Me: “Good, we’ve eliminated one.”

Student #1: *marks down ‘B’ for best* “Okay, now what do I put for the next one?”

Me: “Um, you marked that one as the best.”

Student #1: “Yeah, I think it’s the best.”

Me: “…I thought we just agreed that it was saying something totally different than the original.”

Student #1: “Yeah, so?”

(I explain paraphrasing and the instructions again, pointing out the “B”,”TS” and “D” he is supposed to use to mark it. Finally, he seems to understand and marks down a “D”.)

Me: “Okay, so let’s look at the other two. Which one is too similar?”

Student #1: “I think it’s this one. It tells us all the same things as this one up here.”

Me: “Well, remember, it is supposed to contain the same information. If it tells us something completely different then it wouldn’t be a paraphrase. Try comparing the wording between one and two to the original phrase and see which is more similar.”

Student #1: *staring at the page for a moment* “But this is telling us the same things.”

Me: “Yes, a paraphrase is supposed to give you the same information, just worded differently. Does the other example also have the same information?”

Student #1: “I don’t know!”

Me: “Well, try reading it and see—”

Student #1: “Why won’t you just help me? After all that time making me go through the problem would it have been so hard just to tell me I was supposed to mark it as D?”

Me: “I am trying to help, by explaining the instructions and how to follow them so you’ll know what to do when you move on to the other problems.”

Student #1: “Well, if I understood the instructions then I could just do it myself!”

Me: “Exactly. That is the goal. That’s why I’m explaining them to you.”

Student #1: “I came here for help, but you just act like you know everything! I’m never coming back for tutoring and it will be your fault if I fail!”

Me: “I’m afraid your success is not our responsibility, especially if we are not involved. We’re just here to help you do the work, but your grade depends on your effort.”

Student #1: “Whatever. Thanks for nothing!”

Me: “You’re welcome. Have a nice day.”

Student #2: “Geez, do you get people expecting you to hold their hand all the time?”

Me: “I’m afraid my code of ethics prevents me from answering that question.”

Student #2: “Gotcha.”

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