My tutee is resistant to help. I want to develop a trusting relationship.

Challenge:
My tutee is resistant to help. I want to develop a trusting relationship.

Scenario:
Help! I don’t know what to do. My tutee is still very upset every time I go to the school. This week when I was instructed to help him with word problems, he just started punching the table and talking to himself in Spanish. I tried to explain to him why he needs the extra help, but he was still very angry when I tried to help him. I tried reading the comic books with him, and he was interested at first, but then just shut down on me. He kept moving away from me and even tried to go to the bathroom to get away. The one thing that did work was showing him pictures of The Simpsons and then having him write what he saw. He enjoyed this, and wrote more than he ever has in the past. I guess I’ll continue with this exercise, at least next week, and I’ll try the comic books again. Does anyone have a suggestion of what I could do to gain his trust? I’m desperate.

Possible Strategies:
1. Have you tried playing a game with him? Maybe if he sees his meetings with you as fun rather than solely an academic endeavor, he will be more open to “playing” with you. Once you’ve created a relationship, hopefully, he will look forward to your visits and you could start doing some lessons. Try to include some friends in the game, this may make him feel more comfortable. Hope this idea helps!

2. I may have some books that will have older children reading. The theoretical aspect of your experience is: when you are the teacher who gets these type of students (who speak or understand little in English) or bring tutors to help your children, it is critical that you find ways to explain to each of them in their primary language, why they need additional support, get pulled our, or are given below grade level material. It is imperative that you do this before all these events/situations begin to happen. At one school where I established a Buddy Program to help newcomer ESL students, I had six translators come to class and explain the reasons why these students needed the extra help. I explained things like, “it’s not that you are less smart…any of your classmates would need extra help if they had moved to your country …” or “there is no way you will be able to catch up and learn everything that you need to without the extra help”, or “sometimes, you have to learn by reading things that seem too easy, but we need to start easy otherwise you might not understand and get frustrated”.

That’s also why it is so important to make connections with the community and have key people, parents, older students (e.g. same school, or high school) that you can use as translators. Once you have had ESL students in the past who you have taught effectively, you can use them as resources to speak to your new students. It is important to find older students who have gone through the experience and can be role models and give the newcomers tips. Wow, great example that prompted me to remember top mention this issue which is key to our areas “Creating positive learning environments” and “Developing effective instructional strategies”. Thank you.

3. At my old school, I worked with a fifth grade student who couldn’t read. He hated reading what he called “baby books,” which was any book that I could come up with at his level. I finally did all of his reading using the Language Experience Approach. We would co-author books surrounding his interests. I would guide him to the vocabulary and sounds I wanted to work on, and then he would use these books for all his work. At first we read them together and finally he read them alone. It was great because the vocabulary he developed helped his reading improve. He wrote on Sponge Bob and animals and it worked really well. We bound the books and “published” them. Give this a try because your student might really get into reading his own words and topics.

4. My heart goes out to you. Have you ever read the book, I Hate English? It’s pretty much about a little girl who’s expressing the same sorts of emotions as your tutee. I don’t know if he would want to read it, but it’s worth a try. Does he have any expressed interests other than The Simpsons? Maybe you could elevate yourself to “super-cool tutor” if you combine several interests in one activity.