I often think back to September; a time when my students had nine full months to reach their goals for third grade. Nevertheless, this timeframe seemed daunting to me. How were my teacher and I to help those students who were behind catch up? How were we to ensure the continued success of those students who had done so well in previous grades?

As September grew to October I began to reflect on my first month in school. It was at that time that I realized what it meant for me to be a tutor to my students. While pushing to get my students caught up or to keep them on track are still priorities of my everyday life, it became clear to me that I was there to help them realize the power of their academic potential.

I see brilliance in all my students. Each one learns in a way that is uniquely and entirely theirs and that alone makes them brilliant. They have something not one other person in our world shares with them. All students pick up new concepts and make connections at their own pace. While this often frustrates me as I try to break down our lessons for those who need the extra support, I remind myself of the power of yet.

The students who need extra time and support may not understand a concept yet, but with enough support and guidance they’ll get there. The power of yet has framed my mindset in teaching my students their own potential to learn and master the standards they need. It may take time and it may be frustrating but with the appropriate support all students can master the skills they need.

Having patience with students is crucial to being an academic tutor. One student once said to me “your centers are challenging, but that’s okay because we need that to learn.” That moment made having patience all worth it. Seeing my student make the connection between being challenged and learning revealed to me her belief in herself. I’ve realized this year it is not about the end but rather the process that is the most vital to our students’ success. Instilling in our students the skills they need to believe in themselves, to believe that they may not know it yet but with effort and persistence they will get there.

-Britta Marden
Former AmeriCorps Member
Northshore Elementary School 

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