Question: It is 4 p.m. on Tuesday. What will you do next? Write about your extracurricular pursuits. Why and how do you choose the activities you are involved in? How do your activities reflect your values and affect your school, community or the world? (500 words or less)
I stood in front of the classroom, chalk in one hand and worksheet in the other, waiting for silence. A dozen pairs of eyes looked up at me eagerly, ready to learn, and so I began to write. With every stroke of white that graced the blackboard, twelve pen strokes on paper followed. Section by section, I enriched the students with the curriculum for the day: algebra, geometry and reading comprehension.
“Any questions?” I asked, after having gone over all of the material.
Their hands went soaring, each trying to get higher than the other as if the world would end if these questions went unheard. The enthusiasm was rather charming. Among the outstretched arms, the wiggling fingers and the “oohs” and “aahs” was a thirst for knowledge and a desire to understand. Each student had his/her own desire and very clearly exemplified it by asking question after question, sometimes even asking a new question before I was finished answering the previous one.
This reaction was, however, not uncommon. As a tutor, I was used to endless questions. I was used to spending more time answering questions than actually teaching a lesson and I was used to having to repeat myself. On occasion I would feel tired and worn out, but never did I feel frustrated or discouraged. I knew that each student surely had the potential to understand just as much as the next student, but it was all a matter of time. Some students required more attention than others, but I had no problem with being patient and cooperative.
As I soon learned, the tutoring center was not only a place for my patience and ability to cooperate, but also a place for my encouragement. Working with middle schoolers soon proved how frequently the average adolescent said “It’s too hard!” or “You’re so stupid!” and these were phrases I did not like to hear. It was disheartening to know that so many students lacked the confidence to believe in themselves and in each other. Despite devout focus on math and reading, my most important lesson to my students was always a lesson in confidence. I was constantly urging children to believe in themselves, and constantly urging others to stop picking on those who did not. I could never stress enough how important it is for one to have faith in oneself, especially when problem solving in real life or in academics.
Though I never could have imagined myself as a tutor a year ago, I now cannot see myself doing anything else with my spare time. The feeling of accomplishment that accompanies enlightening the mind of another is strong. I feel quite privileged to have a job that comes with the benefit of watching, and helping, others work to their full potential. Tutoring does leave a lasting impact on the students who partake in it, and I am proud to say that my lessons hold more than one purpose.