This week, I started a new tutoring program that helps sophomore high school students prepare for the PSAT. As noted a number of times in the past, I majored in English, and so I help two students improve their verbal PSAT score(they took a pre-PSAT). These students were recommended by their guidance counselors and deemed as those on the college track. Generally speaking, these students are minorities in public schools that are subpar. Generally speaking, they’re relatively shy but encouragingly focused and career oriented. They’re motivated and have an understanding that they can have a beautiful life years from now, if they work hard now.
The issue I found, despite all these glorious traits, is that they didn’t know how to use commas or semicolons. They couldn’t write four concise consecutive sentences. And when asked how they could make their weakly connected sentences better, they had no clue how to.
Time is an issue here. The time I have with them is supposed to be used to teach them how to take the PSAT in twelve hours across twelve weeks. But, I cant jump into how to take the test when they’re not well versed on the basics. I don’t know how to ignore that deficiency, and they deserve more than that. I’ll just spend a few hours on the basics and then end that chapter of the class with a quiz, one on one assesment and then continous feedback on whether the fundmenatals are becoming a part of their new standard.
One thing I can say about why this project is so exciting is that they were wowed when we worked towards strengthening those weak sentences and after we made these sentences better, they had a look, an expression of now understanding something they didn’t know they didn’t know.