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Tutoring Challenges and Successes by Emma Henderson

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Jubair and I started working together in January this year, and though it wasn’t the easiest of beginnings, it is heartening to think how far we have come. 

It took some time to ease into a steady, weekly routine. I imagine this had something to do with being a mid-year pairing, an arrangement that didn’t kick-start with the academic school year. It's been a real learning curve for me working out how to support a student effectively. Initially miscommunication or a lack of clarity would lead to missed sessions, but now Jubair has really stepped up. I text him prior to every session reminding him of our meeting and he's now, almost, always on time. I think seeing that our sessions are making an impact on his grades in class has been a factor on his steadily improving attendance.

I tutor Jubair in English and our main focus has been essay technique and structuring SQIZE paragraphs. To start with, a good understanding and interesting interpretation of a passage would not translate itself into Jubair’s answers. We worked together to break down the composition of an answer (using grids, jigsaw games, templates) and, along with continual hard work at school, this has paid off. Jubair has declared as recently as two weeks ago that he ‘gets it’ – success – and we have now moved on to developing increasingly ambitious points and layering differing interpretations in his answers at his English teacher’s suggestion.   

Jubair’s huge progress in essay writing has come at a good time as we move into the poetry module. A well-structured response is becoming second nature, and this allows Jubair to focus his attention on unpicking verses and honing his inference skills. Our next challenge will be developing Jubair’s own ability to use language and shape it to varying purposes and audiences. Last week, I got him to write a poem of his own – which I know for a fact he did not enjoy doing because he told me. Despite his self-asserted partiality for literary criticism over creativity, I am confident that – given his track record – hard work and perseverance will see him through.

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Emma Henderson, Access Project Tutor