Monday, July 23, 2007

Summer School

I did something this summer that I never do. I agreed to teach summer term. I don't teach over the summer because I like being a lady of leisure and because the courses I teach are not offered during the summer. I really did not have "a class" this term; I had one student who essentially wanted tutoring.

He was a student who had been in my class during the long semester but dropped because he was going to fail had he not. His biggest problem was not that he was unable to grasp the material, but rather that he was so unsure of his skills that he convinced himself that he could not succeed.

During our summer meetings, I reintroduced the material from class by going back a little further than I normally do. This made a huge difference in his self confidence. With some of his insecurities now removed, we were able to make great strides. We had our last meeting of the summer today. He left ready to tackle the next semester of this sequence, which I also teach, in the fall.

Working with a student on an individual basis is a luxury that is not afforded to most teachers, or students for that matter, very often. In this case, I believe that this opportunity was the only way that this student could master the course content. I had the time to address his particular problems and focus 100% of our class time addressing his specific needs. Because this class was a skills class, this was crucial to his success. He left happy with his accomplishments.

He, however, was not the only one of us to have benefited from this summer school experience. It was a tremendous learning experience for me as well. I gained some real insight into the weaknesses that many of my students bring to my class from previous classes. I developed some new exercises to help this particular student, but they also have the potential to be helpful to many others. I learned how much faith a student can put in an instructor's ability to teach them. And, I saw how much an instructor's faith in a student's ability to learn can benefit that student.