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teacherwriter teacherwriter is offline
 
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Tutoring issue
Old 06-15-2019, 07:18 AM
 
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I'm working with a rising 2nd-grader on fundamental reading skills. (Example: He's still decoding CVC words.) He has decided he doesn't want to work for me, and he shows it through his behavior. He manipulates mom; he clings to her and flirts with her. But as soon as she leaves him for his session, his face goes blank and he sags into the table and yawns, and he looks as bored and miserable as possible. He puts out little effort--mumbles his answers, won't hold onto paper as he writes so it slides all over, etc. FYI, I'm incorporating games, manipulatives and activities as well as reading practice. Also, I don't have any info how he works in school with his teachers.

I suspect some of it is boredom (he knows some skills, but can't use them consistently), but he may just dislike me and/or the work. Then it occurred to me that he may actually be trying to manipulate both me and mom by not cooperating; if he succeeds, the tutoring gets canceled, and then he won't have to deal with me and the work anymore. I'm willing to keep trying, but I also don't want to waste mom's $$ if he absolutely can't work with me. We're going to try a token system, and I'm coming up with some different activities for next time. Other suggestions? It may be a case where I'm the wrong tutor, but I'm not ready yet to conclude that...


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Old 06-15-2019, 07:31 AM
 
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Sounds just like a student I had last year. I'm certain it is not you at all. Child form of manipulation.
Just keep strong!
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Old 06-15-2019, 08:56 AM
 
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Do you think the mom would follow through with making his most prized activity (TV, x-box, ipad, etc) conditional on his participation in tutoring? You could have a little chart where he earns a checkmark for each 10 minutes of positive behavior. 1 out of 6 checks gets him 10 minutes play, 6 out of 6 checks gets him (X) minutes play.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:47 AM
 
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Mom is using a token system for something else--I don't remember what. He earns a token and then can redeem a certain number for an ice cream trip, a movie, or some such reward. He was all excited about it today while she was present, couldn't have cared less while she was away from us, then got excited again when she returned. She also told me that his first-grade teacher used stickers, which he collected on his reading folder. I'm willing to try those things, although I have to admit I don't like bribing with rewards. (I didn't say that to mom or the student, nor will I.) I've also arranged for tutoring at another location that will allow us to move more, so I can pair work with active play. In general, though, I can't let him avoid the hard work.
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Old 06-15-2019, 09:58 AM
 
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For sure it is not you. Sounds like a strong-willed child. If mom has to use a system at home herself, you know itís not you and there might be more going on with this child then youíve been told.


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Old 06-15-2019, 11:49 AM
 
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I can pretty much guarantee you he doesn't work for anyone, unless he chooses to. I had a student like that. I straight up told him that if he improved, he would no longer need tutoring. Otherwise, tutoring would continue indefinitely. He was smart enough to figure that out and started working and meeting standards at school. I did have the advantage of working at the school and regularly checked in with the teacher.
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Old 06-15-2019, 12:25 PM
 
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Quote:
I straight up told him that if he improved, he would no longer need tutoring. Otherwise, tutoring would continue indefinitely. He was smart enough to figure that out and started working and meeting standards at school.
I was thinking something similar.

This behavior seems to be more motivated by escape/avoidance from work than access to tangibles so tokens arent going to work-unless he can cash them in to escape/avoid work.

I would get creative and brainstorm how to equate good participation with less work and lack of participation more work.

For example, especially since its summer perhaps he get tokens and cash a certain number of them in for finishing early. Have him choose 3 simple tasks and explain what active participation looks like, then if he can maintain active participation for those 3 tasks (sitting up straight and tall, eyes and hands on paper) the he earns a token and gets a 5 minute break play on a learning website that is highly engaging like prodigy or starfall or something or even something non-academic if that what it takes to get buy in. Then he would choose another 3 tasks and so on. Then if he earns a set number of token (12-20 or something that would take more than one day since he now has some escape reinforcement built in so a small escape for less tasks builds up to a larger escape over time) he can skip a day or do a half day.

Be thoughtful so that even with breaks and skipped tutoring time he would still be completing the same or a greater number of tasks because he is working faster and harder. Then your breaks dont result in any less learning than what your getting now anyway.

You can use the time that he "skips" from cashing in his tokens or break times to meet with parents or otherwise go over data and plan next steps.

Just spit-balling ideas here
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Old 06-15-2019, 07:02 PM
 
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I can completely relate to and sympathize with your situation. I was math tutoring a girl who was in fifth grade years ago and she was the SAME way. The first time her mom brought her over, she showed up with her arms crossed and was practically in tears that she had to be there. She'd bring her homework and tell me she already knew how to do everything.........but she couldn't divide or multiply basic facts and was performing poorly on all her quizzes and tests. I got attitude from her EVERY session. Sometimes she had her phone and she'd be answering her friends' texts. It makes it hard because you don't want to "tattle" on the kid, but at the same time, the parent is expecting some type of result and/or improvement.

I hope some of the ideas her will help you.
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