I wake up, gather everything I need for the day (my backpack is notoriously large), and walk to the high school since it is about a 10 minute walk from where we live. Sometimes I grab coffee on the way, just to make my morning a little better.
At the high school, we have morning meeting every day with our Tutor Corps manager, Mr. Jacobs. He gives us announcements, and I double check to make sure I have everything I need for the day. Then I head to my arrival duty on the corner near our school. I stand there with my friend, Mr. Rasor, and welcome students as they arrive and make sure they are crossing the street safely.
Algebra I tutorial begins! My 9th grade group is a energetic bunch, full of dynamic personalities. The students have a tutorial packet to do throughout the week that aligns with what they are working on in class. Some students also work on a computer program called ALEKs, which helps them review algebra basics, and fill in any gaps in their knowledge.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, this is my free period! I try to get organized and work on Algebra I materials for my secondary role. My secondary role consists of creating the Algebra I packets that all our 9th graders work on in tutorial. I also analyze testing data to find out what our students need more practice and make support materials on those topics. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have geometry students. This group consists of five 11th grade girls who have a lot to talk about and it’s usually not geometry. Nonetheless, they are very intelligent and like competition. If I really want to keep them engaged, I will quiz them to see who can answer a question the fastest, or have them use the whiteboard to show me how to answer a problem.
Now I head to Ms. Bridges Algebra I classroom for In-Class Support (ICS). This means I circle the room and support any students who need some extra help with taking notes, doing independent work, etc. Sometimes I will take a small group of students out of the room to work through the day’s lesson at a pace that accommodates them more effectively.
I hurry down the hall for my next geometry tutorial. This tutorial group consists of four students, two of whom are self-proclaimed best friends. With patience and understanding this group can be very productive.
This is technically my lunch time, but there’s no time for that. I log the points my students have earned for the day (students can earn positive points for things like academic excellence and doing the right thing and negative points for things like talking out of turn or not following directions). I also use this time to check my email and students’ grades.
Time for ELA tutorial! ELA is not my specialty, so I’m very relieved that I’m surrounded by people who are exceptional at ELA. I am always asking Mr. Argueta for his input when I’m planning my packets. ELA tutorial makes for some fascinating conversations with my 9th graders about how they perceive the world they live in. For example, we have had some very compelling conversations about the challenges that come with the dominant narrative and privilege. Students are especially hyper after lunch, so I give countless reminders about professionalism and staying on task.
On Mondays and Wednesdays, I have 11th grade Algebra II tutorial during this time. My 11th graders are hardworking and pretty independent, so I’m usually there just to guide them through the tutorial packet and answer any specific questions they may have. On Tuesdays and Thursdays this is my free period.
Last period of the day! This is my second group of 10th grade geometry students. These kids work really well together and usually keep me entertained.
Now it is time for mandatory study hall or track practice, depending on the day. I am one of the co-coaches for the track team. We usually take the students to a park near the school for workouts. The team consists of about 25 students, both boys and girls. We have meets about once or twice a week in the Newark area.
Mandatory study hall is for students failing 3+ classes, so that they can work on assignments after school with tutors and teachers.
This is typically when I head home for the day. Once I get home I will make myself some dinner, chat with my roommates about the day, log more points, work on tutorial packets, contact parents, work out in the Teacher’s Village gym, and go to bed.
If I have free time on the weekends, I like to try out different group fitness classes in the NYC area. I have done aerial yoga, contortion, and aqua cycle classes to name a few. I also love going to brunch, museums, and any special events or festivals going on in the city.
My experience as a Great Oaks Legacy tutor has taught me a lot about patience, compassion, understanding, and communication. I spend each day navigating the most effective ways to manage behavior and make sure my students are learning. I have become much better at trying to understand the perspectives of others.
My advice for future tutors is to always try to understand how a student is feeling when they say or do things that may not make sense in the moment. Be patient and professional. Remember to set aside time for yourself in the evenings and on weekends to recharge so that you can be your best self for your students.
Alexis Marrin is from Akron, Ohio. She attended The Ohio State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology, with minors in Global Public Health and Animal Sciences. She plans to attend medical school and get her masters degree in public health. Her goal is to promote health education and provide medical care in underserved urban communities.