Will Teach for Food

During and after graduate school, I did a lot of tutoring–in the university writing center and International Students English Center, and as an independent contractor–when I wasn’t teaching English composition to undergrads. For a while, and especially in the summer, my daily schedule was filled from 10 in the morning to sometime around midnight, with intermittent breaks for snacks and driving. I couldn’t keep up that pace today, since the toddler is a handful and I am super pregnant and my husband usually teaches night classes, but I do miss working one-on-one with students.   When my students couldn’t wait to show me their report card, or their teacher’s comments on an essay I helped them draft, or a poem they wrote on their own because I got them interested in poetry (I know!), I felt pride to the point of smugness. In the interest of full disclosure, I also have to tell you that several of my students made me special baked goods, and all of my students’ mothers made a point of serving me (variously) icy whole milk, scalding coffee, cold green tea, fresh berry smoothies, crumbly little muffins, fried-egg-and-jelly-sandwiches (?), and tons of Korean student/comfort snacks. And sent me home with leftovers.

I’ve been fretting over whether to try to get back into tutoring, and how: do I go back to mostly English as a Second Language work? Do I put up a flyer at the local university and try to attract some term-paper-correcting? Grad students? Who do I really want to work with, and what can I do to find them?

This week, I decided that I would do my best to find some high school juniors and seniors who don’t have someone to give them the last little push they need to get into an awesome college. Specifically, I’d help students with standardized test preparation, writing, and initiating (and ultimately completing) the college search and application process. It’s something I’ve done in the past, and I’ve had a 100% my-students-got-into-colleges success rate. Three years later, I still think about how fun it was to help students recognize and highlight their talents, show them how to slog through the mires of poorly designed college websites and brochures to find hidden requirements and deadlines, and ultimately see them earn their spots in the freshman class of their choice. It was icing on the cake when my gently forcing them to fill out those extra applications and to just-write-that-essay-already lead to scholarship awards.

So I’ve done a little digging and (I think) I’ve found contact info for several local high schools’ guidance counseling departments. It’s always a little tricky communicating with guidance counselors, if my memories of high school serve me right–they’re always either really awesome at their job and therefore crazy busy, or really really crap at their job and therefore always on a lunch break or five-day weekend. I’m drafting my email tonight, and I’ll probably copy the schools’ English teachers (because English teachers generally know what’s up).

Once I get some students, I’ll let you know how it goes.


7 replies on “Will Teach for Food”

teachers who are writers can get a toe in where other teachers cannot; we become part of the shared fabric of our students who need to put down on paper something essential. go out and seek those students whose test prep classes and creative writing classes have been cut. from our losses to your gains.

I wish I could find some youngster creative writers to work with again! In addition to cold-calling high schools to try and find some college-bounds, I’m also going to check my local arts center to see if I can drum up interest in a writing class (all their classes are visual arts, as far as I can tell, but it’s worth asking).

Have you taught a writing workshop before, by any chance?

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