lesson learned

Looking for new ways to help others, sophomore Emily Song uses her personal project as an opportunity to share her understanding of math

Reporting by Maxine Lu and Adah Gray

          “For 10th grade, you have to do a personal project. Originally, I was redoing my room over the summer, and I was like, ‘This is gonna be easy, I'm just gonna use that.’

But then I decided that I wanted to actually help people by tutoring them. I know that online school is really bad this year, especially with math, so this would be really helpful, especially for middle schoolers who online school is probably even harder on.

I made an advertisement, and I sent it out to ASMS and the middle school. I emailed the counselors at both places and they released it in their parent newsletters, and at the middle school, they put it on the TVs. Students can look at it and either email me or text me, and we could talk about it.

          I sent out a survey to fellow students on my Snapchat story, and it was about how they thought it should work and if they use the service. I learned a lot from that. I also interviewed an eighth grade math teacher who I used to have, since he also tutors. He told me the most effective ways to do it and what he personally saw students struggling the most with.

          Typically when I start up the session, I ask them what they want to do. I have one sixth grader who's really smart; he’s doing eighth grade math. He doesn't need help with what he's learning in class right now, so I teach him. I use Khan Academy for practice problems, and we work through all of them. I have another student who's in eighth grade, and we're just doing what he's doing in class. I ask him ‘what's going on with math this week,’ and then we review his homework. I do what my students want to do, and it's usually an hour long.

          I think the most helpful part is going through the problems slowly. I'll do one or two, and then the last two, I have them do it and explain it back to me. I think that helps reinforce in their mind the different steps that they have to take because I'm not just doing it all for them. My students have told me that they've really improved their grades and also their confidence. They're more confident in using the math, and they also don't feel as bad asking questions anymore. At the beginning, they never asked me any questions, but now they're more used to asking questions and asking for help, which is a really good skill to have.

          My tutoring definitely has helped me learn better. It's helped me a lot with explaining things. I used to not be very good at explaining, and I would just give you the answer, but now I have to actually know how it works and how to explain it so that they understand it. 

          The most rewarding part is probably just getting to help people and that they actually learned something from me. When one of my students tells me, ‘my math grades went up by this many points,’ I feel very happy because they're happy. They're a lot more fulfilled and confident in math, and they don't hate it as much. I like math, and I like it when other people see it as something that isn’t scary.”

Emily Song, 10

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