Germs, germs, germs. This facet of the job didn’t occur to me until training. Then I was reminded that as elementary school tutors, we would be exposed to a cornucopia of germs. I was the first of the MRC members at my school to get sick, and I’m currently fighting off my second cold. We’ve actually joked about keeping a tally in our office of who gets sick the most. I would say at least half the kids that I tutor on a daily basis have a cough right now.
Taking your work home. Particularly in my first few weeks of tutoring, I was amazed at how much I thought about my kids when I wasn’t at school. I would lay in bed at night going over who needs easier reading passages and who needs to review his ‘b’ and ‘d’ sounds. With five weeks of tutoring under my belt, I’ve mellowed out somewhat. Still, I care about doing my job well, which means it can’t be contained within school hours.
Occasional long days. Successfully completing my year with the Minnesota Reading Corps depends on serving a certain number of hours. Since tutoring hours alone won’t get us there, we have to look for other opportunities to serve, either in or outside of school. I’ve been working in the after school daycare program one day a week, and I just started helping with an after school class in creative writing. It makes for a great way to get to know the kids, but nine-plus hour days are not my favorite.
Unexpected hugs and hand-holding. In my first few weeks at school, I was amazed by how low the bar was to qualify for a hug. Kids that I had met for five minutes during initial testing were hugging me in the halls. The trend continues with some of the kids I tutor who like to give hugs or even hold hands. It’s not really an occupational hazard, unless you count spreading germs.
Stolen hearts. I should have known. I am, after all, a total softie. Still, I was surprised by how quickly I became attached to my little friends. A few of them will be exiting MRC services soon, and it will be a bittersweet moment. I’m happy that they’re excelling and no longer in need of extra tutoring, but it will be sad not to hang out with them every day. Then again, there’s always another kid who needs help.