The first thing I do when I sit down with my students is make a to-do list for the session. Do they need to come up with a study plan for finals? Are there any long-term projects we should start working on? Is there homework due tomorrow that’s confusing? We decide together which tasks are top priority and then get to work.
This exercise was always a little interesting with one of my students whenever she had a test or quiz coming up. She was perfectly content to study by glancing at the material during her drive to school the day of the test. Every time she mentioned a test and I suggested studying for it, she would only grudgingly agree. Even when she finally accepted that studying could be done in advance, she would insist that she did just fine on tests by re-reading the material rather than being quizzed on it. For the first two months of the school year, we had the same discussion every time there was a test or quiz—and each time she got one of those tests or quizzes back, I was sure to point out that she did much better when she was quizzed on material. Nevertheless, she didn’t seem swayed.
In one session last month, I sat down to make my to-do list with her as usual.
“Do you have any tests or quizzes in the next week?”
“I have a French quiz tomorrow.”
“How do you feel about the material?” Oh boy, I figured. Here comes the same old discussion.
“Can you quiz me on it?”
Could I? Was she serious? I decided not to dance around the room, but I said enthusiastically, “Of course I can quiz you on it! I’m so glad you asked!”
These small successes in tutoring are often the most memorable moments. My student’s question could’ve been completely insignificant to anyone who didn’t know her. However, not only did this question show me that she had started to rethink her ideas about studying, simply asking it showed me that she was taking the initiative with her own education!