December 15, 2021
This semester was an overall challenging time for me. I started off the year with being a student leader, a new commuter, and an 11:07 improv cast member, along with being a student. I did not think much of adding tutoring to that equation until it got unhealthy for me. As the semester progressed, I stepped out of my student leadership and improv positions. This way, I was able to provide more time for the first and second-year students who needed my help. Something that caught my attention the most this semester was our last project with Neurodivergent learning because it helped me learn a lot about myself. In sixth grade, I was diagnosed with ADHD, specifically dyscalculia. This was also around the time my family moved from India to Egypt where I went to an American International school. Upon starting my middle school education, I was put in a class called “Learning Ed,” which was nicknamed the class for “dumb kids.”
When you are only 13 years old, and an adult tells you that you belong in the dumb class, you believe them. My whole personality revolved around theatre and the arts because I was not smart enough for anything academic. It was only after coming to university that I realized a substantial portion of the arts is based on history and academia. Since I was not in any kind of learning ed class, I knew I had no one to rely on, to vouch for my laziness. Although I appreciate what this class was trying to do for me in middle school, it hurt me so much more than it helped. This is also exactly the reason I started tutoring. I know that there are students who feel the same way or are told that they are only worthy of getting C’s and lower or B’s and lower. The first way I tried to implement aspects of Neurodivergent Learning, was through outlines. Usually someone with ADHD is scattered and has a lot of ideas with potential but is unable to pin down exactly what they want to talk about in their paper. I started by asking them what they are most interested in and making a bullet point list of everything they said. From there, I would ask them which of those ideas applies to the topic. If they struggle, I jump in and offer some of my suggestions. Having a visual list is a way of putting those chaotic ideas on paper where they are tangible. Another important thing to keep in mind is the attention span of a Neurodivergent learner. It is usually noticeably short and can be a problem when they book a session for an hour. I made sure to pay close attention to the student’s ability to respond and add to my suggestions. If I noticed them getting distracted by their surroundings, not responding at all, or constantly trying to change it topic, I would ask them if they really need the whole hour or we could cut it a little short. I also made sure to ask them if I was speaking too fast, too slow or they were able to follow my guidance. There are multiple ways of outlining and brainstorming, so I made sure to diversify my approach to certain assignments. For example, I would try and use pictures and diagrams to the tutee through screen share to visually illustrate my point.
In terms of my struggles, I often got caught up with minute details. A vivid example is when a student asked me the difference between points and pointing. The sentence was “This quote pointing to the idea that racism is active in North American factories.” In that case I told the student that he should use points instead of pointing, but could not really explain why. I know that this happens, and is normal for me to experience, but it really ruined my day. I ended up getting a little bit of help from another tutor who told me about past participles. There were multiple small things like this where I just could not explain why a certain word makes more sense in a certain context.
For the next semester, I hope to give myself a little more time in the day to work on any grammar issues I have. I also hope to be in person a lot more, so that it will be a lot easier to communicate with people who can help me.