7 Quick Takes: Tutoring Commandments Edition

Some of you know that I work as a tutor at a community college, so I thought I’d share my “tutoring commandments” this week. It’s mildly sarcastic and tongue-in-cheek, but it’s all stuff that I’ve dealt with and deal with frequently.

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

Thou shalt not stand up thy tutor. My students have my cell phone number and my email address so that they can text, call, or email me to let me know that they can’t make that session, so it’s a bit irritating when they don’t contact me or give me very little warning. It’s not as important to have advanced warning right now while I’m working on Zoom, but it’s a headache if I’ve made the effort to change out of my pajamas, driven to campus, and lugged my laptop bag across campus to meet with someone. Thankfully, I do get paid for part of the session because my bosses have a heart, but I still resent losing grocery money because people can’t be bothered to let me know something came up and they won’t be there.

Also? When I email my boss about your no-show and you get a warning from them, don’t throw me under the bus. I save all conversations with my students. I know you knew about the session because I texted a reminder yesterday.

— 2 —

Thou shalt not treat me as a homework machine. It’s OK if you need help with homework, but don’t save all of it for me. I have a very finite amount of time with each student, and we can’t get through all of your homework for every class in that one session. Attempting your homework ahead of time means that we can focus on the stuff you don’t understand.

Also? I can’t hold your hand through every assignment. It is frustrating when a student pulls out the homework we worked on last time and hasn’t done anything else on it. The frustration intensifies when the due date for that homework has passed and the student is now even more behind and only eligible for partial credit on the homework they pulled out to continue. Pleasepleasepleaseplease make the effort to do your homework after I work with you, especially after I’ve given you the notes and skills to finish the assignment in a timely fashion.

— 3 —

Thou shalt not try to get me to help thee on a test, midterm or final. Guess what? Your instructors know I tutor their subjects and said instructors notify me when a test, midterm, or final is coming up. They tell me how much assistance I can give to students, and I am not going to jeopardize my job by helping you on this test. In many cases, I’ve taken the test and aced it on my own merits, so I expect you to do the same.

If you try to ask me questions on the subject matter, I will tell you that I cannot help you the first time and will reply “asked and answered!” cheerfully every time after that. (The record for me saying that is 15 times in succession.) I know what you are doing. You are not being devious.

— 4 —

Thou shalt not scream at thy tutor. I don’t like it. Don’t do it. If you do, my boss will be happy to deal with you.

Also? If you make me cry, my boss will end you.

— 5 —

Thou shalt manage thy time appropriately so that thou dost not end up in an emergency situation. Lack of preparation on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine. You got that assignment a few days ago, and you’re waiting until now to start it? Sucks to be you. You could have had help with that assignment during that time, and now you’re coming to see a drop-in tutor in the last 5 minutes of her shift. Once the end of my shift comes around, I’m done and logging off Zoom or walking out of the room.

What’s that? The assignment is going to take SOOOOOO long? It’s going to take longer if you don’t start on it right now. Your choice.

— 6 —

Thou shalt not expect me to solve all thy problems because thou canst be bothered to talk to thy instructor. I have had students who are assigned to me midway through the quarter, and I find out that they have been having computer issues/issues with the course website/issues with Zoom/issues with software the entire time… and they haven’t bothered to reach out to their instructor to let them know. They may or may not have done any classwork, but they expect their instructor (who has a NO LATE WORK EVER policy) to let them turn everything in for full credit…. and apparently, I can fix *EVERYTHING* for them at that moment and help them get an A with no problem.

Meanwhile, my stomach is in knots because I’m going to have to email my boss and that student’s advisor in the program to let them know that this is a situation where there is next to nothing I can do because the student can’t be bothered to advocate for themselves. I usually have to tell the student tactfully that they should have been in conversation from the beginning of the quarter with their instructor about things not working, and I have them email the instructor to find out what can be done for the quarter to be salvaged… *IF* it can be salvaged. (I also deal with students who want *ME* to email their instructors and fix things… which I cannot do as it would be a FERPA violation and a potential firing offense.)

Please, I beg you, DON’T PUT ME IN THAT SITUATION. It ruins my day.

— 7 —

Thou shall respect your tutor’s off-hours. I’m limited in the number of hours I can work weekly, and my bosses do not expect me to check and respond to email outside of my working hours. If you contact me at 10:30 p.m. and tell me that you have a problem and I need to contact you IMMEDIATELY to fix it (especially if you’re not on my tutoring roster and have stalked me online to get my contact information), I’m going to ignore you until noon the next day when my drop-in tutoring hours start. Once my drop-in hours start, I will email you back and tell you to lose my number and my email address. The email will be copied to my boss, and they’ll be more than happy to weigh in on the subject. My off-time is mine. Please respect that.

For more Quick Takes, visit Kelly at This Ain’t The Lyceum.

2 thoughts on “7 Quick Takes: Tutoring Commandments Edition

  1. “But, but, but, you’re my tutor!”

    Wow. I’m sorry. That’s nuts, and very frustrating. What kills me is that they have a problem and won’t reach out to the professor for help. Seriously. You have to learn to advocate for yourself. Stuff like that drives me nuts. Note to self: teach children from young age how to talk to other people to solve problems.

  2. #5 and #6 are my most frustrating experiences as a college professor. Why don’t they take responsibility for their work? Why don’t they communicate that they are having problems?I’m a marshmallow and I’ll take late work if you let me know about it. But the ones who should never do. I can’t go to their dorms and nag them in person – it’s their job as a student to be responsible.
    I hope that as we return to in person classes (yeah!) the students will realize this is not some online role playing game they’re playing, but a real class with real work, and real grades (and a real cost!).
    I never give students my cell number – evil perhaps but I have to set some boundaries. I use email (and I do answer email within a few hours) so I don’t mind sending out messages at 5 am. But it’s my choice. I’m not having them text me when I’m trying to get my dinner cooked or my kids to bed.
    Good luck as your enter the new term – I hope your charges are all well behaved!

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