Jean Browman of Cheerful Monk tagged me to participate in this meme called “Caring, Compassion, Charity”. According to Alex Shalman, the originator, its purpose is to “write about the top 1 or 2 causes that simply make your palms sweat, your heart bleed, and send tears rolling down your cheeks. Make sure you tell everyone why this cause is so important to you as an individual….As people open up what they’re truly passionate about, we’ll get a better grasp on what WE can do to change the world, and why it’s important.”
So I had this whole, long, elaborate blog post all planned out to talk about why I love what I do so much, which is tutor high school students in Spanish. I was going to talk about how satisfying it is to have the time to work one-on-one with specific kids over long periods of time, and to have the ability to establish a relationship with them where they see me as an adult they can trust and talk to about all manner of life issues. I was going to talk about how gratifying it is to see a student, who would normally fall through the cracks in the typical high school environment, blossom when they finally get the chance to be seen, heard, and appreciated. I was going to talk about how exciting it is in that moment when the student finally connects with their own, unique ability to learn, and sees that, “Oh yeah, I really can do this!”
I really do love what I do, for all of those reasons and more. But the truth of the matter is that, when it all comes down, I really love getting to spend all my time having conversations like this:
I am working with a student, and have just asked him to write all his vocabulary words down on a sheet of paper, with the Spanish word on the left and its English translation on the right.
My student: sighing, because he doesn’t know most of the words and has to look each one up in the dictionary.
My student: tiring of doing the assignment “the long way”, gets the bright idea to try and trick me into giving him the answers.
Me: not stupid, unfortunately for him.
My student (casually sliding his hand over the paper so that I can’t see what is-or what isn’t-written there. Unfortunately for him, he’s a few minutes too late.): “Um, I can’t read what I wrote right there. What does ‘barato’ mean again?”
Me: “You mean you can’t read what you ‘wrote’ there in that blank space, the space where you never actually put anything down?”
My student (stunned): “Wow. Usually that works.”
Me: “I’ve tutored a lot of students.” (And dude, you’re 12. It’s not like you’re some sort of Criminal Mastermind.)
I love my work.