Tutoring 101

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Monthly Archives: October 2014

An Added Bonus

First, thank you, Math Universe, for posting on this important topic of peer tutoring. Peer tutoring is an intensely interactive and often immensely effective means of learning and mastering new materials. I love especially that this post is coming from Math Universe, since many articles and posts often focus on writing-related opportunities for peer tutoring (not that these opportunities aren’t very important as well; my own tutoring experience is grounded primarily in the world of writing). Peer tutoring and classroom-organized study groups are terrific tools for helping students discover ways of both understanding the materials for themselves and from the perspectives of others.

It’s this diversity that I find especially appealing about in-class study group systems. Friends often study together or forge their own study groups outside of class. However, while this is great, it can also be beneficial to work with people you wouldn’t normally otherwise consult. In colleges, such systems are alive and well. Take Southwestern University (Georgetown, TX) for example. They’ve long been experimenting with the Paideia Program, where accepted applicants are grouped into diverse cohorts that will stick together, serve together, and learn together from their sophomore year to their senior year. This enables students from all departments and backgrounds to come together and benefit from each other’s unique perspectives. Of course, the program has changed dramatically since I was a student there (it’s now a requirement of all Southwestern students rather than a program for students to apply into), but the core purposes and goals remain the same: interdisciplinary collaboration, civic engagement, intercultural experience, and learning to apply one’s education beyond the classroom. (For more information on the Paideia Program specifically, visit: http://www.southwestern.edu/paideia/)

All of this is to say that peer tutoring and formalized study groups can be as diverse, challenging, and beneficial as you want to make them. Studying and mastering new skills is always difficult, but taking the time to work through these challenges with others not only fosters greater opportunities to learn, but greater opportunities to form lifelong friendships, leadership qualities, and collaboration skills.

The Math Universe

Something that I really like about science classes is that during lab you get the opportunity to interact with classmates.  In lecture only classes, it seems as though people just show up to class and then leave, but when you have lecture and then lab after a short break – or viseversa – there is that additional time to get to know each other.

The reason I bring this up is because sometimes it’s helpful to study with another person.  Some more introverted students (such as myself) may have difficulty meeting friends in class.  But when you are sitting in tables that seat four people and told to work with a partner, it’s like a built-in study buddy.  Or it could be a horrible nightmare if your partner is completely incompetent, but even then that can have its positive side, as I will discuss later.

My Trigonometry teacher would always…

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Study How You Study

First, let me thank Latinas Uprising for this terrific post about studying and the forming of strong study habits. And though this post is written from the perspective of a law student, the advice included here can be useful for students of virtually any age from middle school and up. There are two things in particular about this post — two ideas it presents — that, I think, set it a part from the many other posts on studying out there in the blogosphere:

1.
That studying is not a given skill and that studying, contrary to what is apparently popular belief, doesn’t look or work the same way for every student. As Latinas Uprising explains, “For me, it wasn’t until I was a 2L that I finally figured out a way to study where I would really understand the material. Before I found ‘my method’, I tried different things like flash cards and case briefings, but none of it seemed to really help the material stick. It wasn’t until I fell back on what I had done successfully in college and gave myself permission to stray from the way law students ‘should’ study, that I finally started to really comprehend my cases.” In other words, studying itself takes patience and practice — don’t let yourself be convinced that you simply aren’t good at a given subject. Instead, try exploring new styles and schedules for studying until you find what works for you.

And 2.
That studying requires more than simply the act of studying — studying requires creativity in scheduling and, above all, discipline. As Latinas Uprising explains of her newfound studying success: “Yes, it would take up all my weekend. Yes, it sucked. But I preferred having my weeknights free because my boyfriend (now husband) and I had started to live together, and I wanted to commit some time to the relationship (a life outside of law school? Crazy concept, right?!). Mostly, I ended up sticking to this ‘no weekend ever’ plan because I enjoyed not feeling as if I was just barely holding my head above water during the week.” Can you dig that wild news? Well, it’s true — to study successfully, you don’t always need to revisit the material on a daily basis. It all depends on the needs of your schedule and the unique ways that you learn best. This requires not only flexibility and discipline, but creativity as well — don’t let yourself get stuck on an idea of what studying is supposed to look like and when it is supposed to take place. If studying in the morning each day works best for you because you’d prefer to have your evenings free for a significant other, the advancement of a hobby, participation in an extracurricular activity, etc., then give it a try! If focusing the bulk of your homework time to the weekends might work best for you and your schedule, then give it a try!

The main takeaway is, learning to study takes time — don’t let a few stresses and bumps along the way discourage you from pushing forward.

Latinas Uprising

We previously discussed how to prep for 1L week and –surprise–the main focus was getting prepped for studying.  But it’s worthwhile to delve into “how to study” a little deeper.

I say this a lot, but it’s actually really important to realize that you will be most successful if you study how you study. Think back on all the college classes where you excelled and mimic those study habits.  Note that I wrote excelled, not: barely put in the work but somehow still passed–that won’t fly in law school.  The reason why this is important is because law school has the tendency to push people into doing the same thing.  According to them, if briefing cases works for one student then it should work for all of them.  The reality is that we all have different capacities and methods of understanding.  Definitely try case briefing, but if it’s not working–move…

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