I’m not sure if I have mentioned this before, but I work as a private English tutor for a crazy woman and her 3 lazy children. Very recently, I made the decision to quit working for her, but I have yet to work up the courage to confront her and rip off the bandaid. That is, until today.
First, some background. One of her three children I teach is a 15 year old girl in 9th grade. She is a nice girl, a smart girl, but a very manipulative girl. From the previous year of trying to teach her, I can safely say that he problem is not learning English; her problem is her mother. Whenever this girl says the slightest thing about something being “too hard” or that “she can’t” or that “she doesn’t understand” or that “she doesn’t have the energy,” (ain li coah) her mother jumps in and either tells her to just do it later or [worse] her mother just does it for her. I, on the other hand, am not her mother. I refuse to spoon-feed her because I can see how smart she is. I can see that if she just put a teensy bit of focus on her homework rather than sitting there and complaining for 20 minutes that “she doesn’t understand nothing” (ani lo mivina klum), she would be able to conquer the dreaded English homework and she would see that not only can she do it, but she can do it successfully.
Today was no different. Until her mother got involved…
Crazyface (the mother) had the audacity to lecture me today about “being patient” and “being gentle” and how “our goal is to get her daughter to want to learn English.” Now, not to toot my own horn here or anything, but I am a very patient, gentle teacher. I brought her 17 yr old from being basically non-verbal in English to being fluent with 90% accuracy. I brought her 10 yr old from being a non-reader, to reading small passages without help and answering reading comprehension questions. I’m a good teacher. For a year I’ve put up with her 15 yr old’s foot-stamping, whining, crocodile tears, yelling, and door-slamming that was all directed at English lessons with me. I never took it personally because she and I have a fine relationship as long as I’m not trying to teach her how to do her homework. But, it is obvious that she is just not interested in learning English, maybe even learning English with me. And you know what? That’s fine.
As I explained to Crazyface today, as firmly and as pointedly as possible, that I agree that teachers should be patient and kind and gentle. I agree that you shouldn’t throw kids into the deep end of the pool before they’re ready. BUT it is not my job as the private tutor who comes on my days off to convince her daughter to want to work with me. I’m happy to work with her and teach her, but if she doesn’t want to learn, I’m not going to chase after her. You’re goal as the mother is to get your daughter to want to do well in English on her own. My goal as the tutor is to teach people who want to learn more.
Here’s the thing. I did nothing wrong today specifically except expect her daughter to do her homework without me giving her the answers. After trying to trick me or guilt me or con me into doing it for her for 15 minutes unsuccessfully, she went and complained to her mom that “she doesn’t understand.” The details and ins and outs of the lesson/assignment she had are too long and numerous to go into here but believe me when I say all I asked her was “what do you think the answer is?” to the question “what was the movie about?” regarding a movie we watched together where I stopped and explained what was happening every 5 minutes and asked her constantly “do you understand?” and she would say “yes.” I believei t was fair of me to expect that she would answer the simple question “what do you THINK the movie was about?”
So, for her mother to lecture ME about how to do MY job that I am quite successful at with my 157 other students, just set me off. How dare you lecture ME about how to be a teacher. How dare you have the nerve to TRY to tell me how to do my job. Where do you get off telling ME that I’ve never faced a challenge I felt was insurmountable. You know nothing about me. You know nothing about teaching.
I’m not here to force anyone to do anything in private lessons. If YOU want YOUR daughter to work with me and learn English, YOU have to figure out how to motivate her. After a year of putting up with her BS and being patient as doors are slammed in my face, I’m obviously not who she wants to work with. Maybe instead of CONSTANTLY trying to bend the world to meet your children’s desires and whims, you should teach your children how to fit into the world. Believe or not, I don’t care if your 15 yr old’s English homework is done on time. I don’t ever care if it’s correct. If you ask me to check it, I will to the best of my ability but if your kid doesn’t want to finish her homework with me while I’m in front of her, I’m not losing sleep over it.