So I started a new job. Today, I got to train with some actual students, see how the techniques are emphasized differently and all under scrutiny of others. Today there were more tutors than there were students, and as I know I was listening when the other trainee was working, I’m sure the same happened when it was my turn.

The new job isn’t a new position, still tutoring, obviously, but for a different company, and one that specializes only in math.

Math! It’s so funny, since mathematics has always been a big bugaboo for me. I got kicked out of the accelerated learning program track I was in at the end of 6th grade because my math wasn’t up to snuff. I failed Physics my senior year of high school because I couldn’t do the math. I took college level algebra five times before I finally got myself passed off for the requirement so I could get my Associate of Arts degree. So I can certainly sympathize with any student who just doesn’t get it, can’t figure it out and is frustrated. And I’ve even taken a fear of math workshop, and discovered that all the little tricks I have to double check my uncertainty of whether it’s the right answer or not, that somehow we believe other people don’t use, are excellent things to know, and to show other struggling math-phobes, to gain that confidence of whether it’s right or not. This new tutoring company is all about showing those techniques, as another access to how to think through the problems, and boost student confidence.

But on the flip side, I have worked in accounting for the past two decades. Math may not be my strongest ability, but I can do the simple stuff, and then there are calculators and excel spreadsheets. I can copy formulas, I can snitch and modify worksheets to make them apply to the current model, etc. So I can’t do the math easily, but I can work it out.

Because of my familiarity with spreadsheets and computers, I am known in my volunteer training program for being a go-to person on the computer, on being able to do the statistics and trouble shooting, copy editing and rectifying mistakes before they get copied 300 at a time. I am given that vote of confidence despite not being able to figure out the things my new iPhone has done to me, like locking up, randomly dialing and stop ringing….

But it still makes me laugh, since I don’t think I’m that good at math. As part of the hiring process for this new job, I was given a short math test, what was obviously a worksheet. I couldn’t work out all the problems. I managed to figure out an answer for how many marbles of which color were in a bowl, but I couldn’t remember how to multiply fractions. I had half the steps done, reducing to lowest common denominator, I just couldn’t remember to flip the second fraction’s denominator and numerator, and multiply instead. But I now know to do that!

Six more hours of training to do, some more things to do to officially be hired, and as of September 1st, I will be given students to actually teach. I am looking forward to it, I am happy with this company, I am happy with the tools they are providing, and the hand-holding support they are giving to make sure we are up to their standards. We will even be given digital recorders to record our sessions, so that there is no question what got covered and how. Spot checks may take place to see that we are where we say we are when we should be. This was mentioned that it happens in cases of child custody cases, knowing exactly where the child should be becomes very important.

And finally, here’s the rub:

even though it is merely a new company, but basically the same job, I was so nervous driving to my appointed tutoring center this morning. Just like I still get nervous on the first days of school, in part, some of the reason during college I just took school continuously, to avoid that nervous pit in the stomach feeling September used to bring on for me. The worse case scenario I could think of was walking into a room full of children, and told to immediately start tutoring these four here, of all different levels and grades, go! Your techniques will be observed and critiqued at the end of the four hours.

No. It was slow. I had two students, I got to read through a lot of the materials, and one of the students taught me a new game I had never played before (Mancala)! So I had fun. I know I wasn’t relaxed enough for the students to really be having fun too, but I will get there when I get to know my students, I know. No reason to be nervous at all.

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