What Works

By Amy Patel

Over these 8 months of service I have tested and tried different methods to best help and reach my kids. If there is one thing that trumps all else, it’s RELATIONSHIPS. RELATIONSHIPS. RELATIONSHIPS. I’ve noticed that unmotivated students, who went from not passing classes to consistently doing their work and actually wanting to, were the ones who I tried to get to know first. By putting in that effort and allowing them to express themselves, they realize that you’re more than just a tutor, but like my students say, their “person” who will go above and beyond to ensure their success.

  • Silent treatment for those extra special kids who drive you insane

Some students for whatever reason want nothing to do with you, even if you’re nurturing and trying to help. And then there’s the disrespect, everyone has their threshold and upon reaching mine, I implement the silent treatment. It’s a win-win situation once they realize you’re not going to cave easily and then they just stop talking altogether to you.  That’s ok.  I have a few like that and it was tough when I had to come to the realization that I can’t help someone if they don’t want to help themselves. And then there are those who take it to heart, apologize, realizing you don’t have time for their indifference and will easily move on to the next student who actually cares about doing well in school.

  • Bribery,no really

 Most students want to feel liked and I’ve noticed that they crave attention from City Year all the time. In my classes, students yell at each other out of jealously when I help someone else or are kicking and screaming when I decided to do pullouts and have to choose only a few. I use these situations to my advantage by rewarding students with pullouts, 1 crazy story from them or me, candy, even walk and talks (who doesn’t want to get out of class for 2 minutes?)

  • Consistency

Our kids are smart (manipulative and devious at times) and can sense if you’re genuine as a person and really care about their future so I know it’s important to make it readily apparent that you are there for a reason and you really want to see them successful. I get excited when I get a grade sheet, most of the time way too excited but my students know that that I am most happy when I see those A’s and B’s.

What most likely doesn’t work:

  • YELLING…unless absolutely necessary
  • Favoritism

My team knows this all too well…I’m the way too nice corps member and this approach for me has worked very well although there were a few challenges along the way. I always try to put myself in the shoes of my students and figure out how I’d want to be supported if I was a 14 year old hormonal teenager. I always offer a listening ear and by now I can tell if something is going on with a kid or they are acting out just to get out of class. I’ve had a lot of intense conversations with my students about the future, relationships, challenges they face at home, self-esteem, or just life in general. I may not be an authoritarian and students may not take my attempts to be strict and firm seriously (neither do I, so we all end up laughing anyways) but I can tell that at the end of the day, my students respect me enough that I don’t have to raise my voice and they know that their successes are my successes.


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