Hello and happy Wednesday everyone! I hope this post finds you well. Today I wanted to touch on the subject of overthinking and how it affects students.
Overwhelmed, Not Lazy
In this modern age of videogames, internet, and smart phones, it is often said that “kids today have it so much easier,” and in a way that is true. But what people, especially those who grew up without modern conveniences, fail to understand is that what has replaced the wall of not having easy access to information is now a deep black pit where the bottom cannot be seen. Instead of having to exert exponential effort to physically sort through the card catalog, you now have to exert the same amount of mental effort trying to narrow down what you want to search specifically and how to find it in the sea of information.
Student’s have gone from starving for access to information to drowning in it and most of what comes at them is akin to empty calories. Information that is not helpful, not on topic, or just plain wrong. So instead of getting in there and getting their project or paper done, they sit staring at an empty screen with that taunting line of a cursor blinking over and over again as if to laugh at them in Morse code.
Essentially, students are not lazy they are simply overwhelmed.
Building a Life Raft in a Sea of Misinformation
If we are to continue the metaphor of being drowned in a sea of information – both important and not – then how is the modern student to build a life raft? A moment of reprieve? A way to sort through the assaulting titles? For writing, as that is my area of expertise, the answer could not be more simple.
Outlines are the answer! In my years of writing tutoring not one single student has come to me already utilizing outlines the way they need to. Either they think it is extra work that they do not need to do, they simply don’t know how, or they use it in the wrong way.
The way I direct students to outline is as follows:
Introduction: (One sentence – the most general sentence they can think of about their subject material)
Thesis: (their thesis in one sentence)
BP1 – (One sentence – the first point they want to touch on)
BP2 – (One sentence – the second point they want to touch on)
Conclusion: (One sentence answering the question: so what? Why do I care about this information?)
From this outline structure, they are able to see each point they want to make, the basis of their “funnel” for their introduction (to be explained in a later article), and reminding themselves of the much more superior (to the sum it all up) conclusion, the so what conclusion.
This is a quick, easy way to get a student to begin brainstorming and to have them see very clearly and simply what they need to research and how they want to organize their essay.
BUT WHAT IF THEY HAVE ALREADY WRITTEN THEIR ROUGH DRAFT?
This would be the time to implement what is called a Reverse Outline. A Reverse Outline is when you take what you have already written, and create an outline off of it. The student would sum up each paragraph into one sentence and use the same structure as above. This way, they can easily see what they already have in a quick, easy to access format.
Make It Float
But even the best life raft, built in the water or before the excursion, is worth nothing if it can’t float. So, how do we make it float? What are the holes in our life raft that we need to plug?
ONE WORD: CONFIDENCE
No matter how prepared a student is, they will achieve nothing if they are paralyzed in fear (btw, this is another way that students appear lazy on the outside). If they do not trust themselves to write the paper they have designed the outline for, then the raft is useless. This is where a student should be taught to rely on their own skills rather than the validation of a teacher, tutor, parent, or other authority figure.
In our modern school system, students tend to get blurred out by the sheer number of peers around them. When you add in the factors of large class sizes, underpaid and under supported teachers, and a strict curriculum with heavy testing and very little time in a school year after holidays, breaks, and test prep…you have a student who has been inadvertently taught to follow a teacher’s word to the letter and who has not had the chance to rely on themselves due to the pressure to get through the information quickly. They are told the answer before they are allowed to discover it for themselves. They are told there is only one way to answer. They have no room to build their own and best version of how they process information.
So, break down the assignment in bite-sized chunks with them. Help them see that they simply need to search for supporting evidence for the first, then the second, then the third, etc. paragraphs until they have completed their research and can move on. They do not need to go from the prompt to a perfectly polished essay.
A Kind Word Goes A Long Way
At the end of the day, remembering that students have a life outside of school, bodies that are changing rapidly, hormones that are swimming through their brains, family problems, social problems, and the pressure to be perfect the first time around with no chance to slip up can help you to take them slowly one step at a time through their assignment as their supporter and confidant.
Remember…overthinking is the Achilles’ heel of the modern student.
For this post I wanted to speak on my philosophy as a tutor. It’s no secret that I don’t agree with several things about our current education system such as the lack of support for teachers, the lack of understanding for children, and the rigid testing structure that leads to anxiety and depression in students. But I wanted to touch on what I DO like, and do myself, rather than the things I don’t.
The Student-Tutor Relationship
There are several schools of thought that believe that the student and teacher should have a more formal relationship with an obvious emphasis on power and stance from the teacher and acceptance of learning from the student. This school of thought extends to tutoring to involve a formal connection between the tutor and the student, albeit slightly more relaxed than teacher and student.
This more formal/traditional educational school of thought for tutoring is known as Directive Tutoring wherein the tutor does most of the talking and directs the student in the direction the tutor believes the student needs to go. The focus is more on the relationship and trust between the student and tutor rather than on the student.
A second theory and model for tutoring is known as Minimalist tutoring wherein the tutor lets the student take the lead. The relationship can be, and in my experience as a peer tutor at my college usually is, less formal and closer to peers with one being more knowledgeable than the other. The focus is on the individual and while the tutor may direct the student when they absolutely need it, the student is the one who thinks of what they need support with in their area of study (in this case writing).
There are other theories but to me these are the two most opposite to one another and the ones I have experienced and struggled with the most.
Which Way Do I Lean?
As someone who has tutored students of all ages, from pre-k to college level and even those that were much older than me (non-traditional college students), I have found that I lean more towards the Minimalist Tutoring style.
To me, it is most important to build a student’s confidence in themselves and work on educational material from there. A student who is unsure of themselves will only look to you for guidance and will not have taken anything from the session to use on their own. This sets them up to seek validation in the opinions of those they deem more knowledgeable than them and robs them of the ability to learn the skills for themselves and use the tools that were given to them by their educators.
Along with the Minimalist tutoring style, I am also more laid back in personality and talk to students on their level. I am playful, I make jokes, and my tutoring sessions often erupt in laughter and smiles.
The difference between my classroom and another can be stark. Whereas the usual classroom is quiet, focused, and (hopefully) with students all in their desks focusing intently on their work, mine is full of side conversation, doodles on the board, and students walking around the room, laying on the floor, or shifting around in their chairs. When you look closer, however, you will notice that every one of my students are working and understanding the material perfectly. They finish their work, they ask questions, and they take from the experience that learning is fun and they look forward to returning. To me, if a student is happy and relaxed and there is an air of open communication between them and me, I can more easily direct their attention back to their work by simply reminding them it exists.
The Rafiki Method – Look Beyond What You See!
I have, in the past, affectionately dubbed my tutoring style as the Rafiki method. I employ a mixture of creative metaphors and the Socratic method of questioning to help students understand the material from a completely different angle than they had before. I often use pop culture references in my tutoring to help the student come out of the shell of worry that often surrounds them when they don’t understand a problem or subject, and when they answer my questions, I point out that they are answering their own.
An example of this was once in college when a student had a paper to write. The subject of the paper was cybersecurity and they were to write the ways they would strengthen our nations cybersecurity if they were in charge of the programs. This student had completely locked up and was at a complete loss. I asked them if they had ever seen Ice Age. They looked confused but said yes.
“Remember the scene with the Dodos?”
“Remember how they were protecting the watermelon? They broke out in chicken karate styles and fought to their best ability to protect that one single melon?”
*laughing at this point* “Yes, I remember.”
“Pretend this watermelon has been left in your care and it’s not just any watermelon. This watermelon can make people immortal and you have a file on your computer that has the blueprints to grow it. Hackers are trying to access the watermelon! Quick! Protect your watermelon!! What do you do!?”
“Well first I would -”
“Write it down!”
“Write it down!”
They began writing down what they were telling me and when they were done I simply sat back with a huge grin on my face. The student looked at me confused until I said, “Congratulations, you just wrote the basic ideas for your paper.”
To me, the basis of tutoring is building a students confidence, getting them out of their own head, and helping them to relax enough to learn the material.
While these methods and ideas work best for me and my personality, that doesn’t mean a Minimalist and goofy tutoring approach is the catch-all. In fact, I strongly believe that the best tutoring method for an individual tutor to employ depends HEAVILY on their personality. But I will always argue that kids should have a little more creative freedom in the classroom and that the focus should be on building their confidence and making them feel happy and secure, the education comes much easier after that step is achieved.
What are your thoughts? How do you best tutor or what was your best experience with a tutor? What method do you lean more towards/do you learn best with? Comment below and don’t forget to like and subscribe!
As the title states, I am an author. I am also a writing tutor, poet, writer, editor, and proofreader. My ultimate goal from long before college was to get to the point in my writing that I could support myself with it and be free to do whatever I like! So far, I have been semi-successful in that journey and am excited that I am starting to see results!
This article will go through what I have done so far and what has worked or started to work.
Research is an unsung hero in many aspects. Several writers, myself included, want to jump in there and rely on the skills they think they have to get them to where they want to go. They know exactly what they want to do and, since it’s different than what others are doing, they will be sure to stand out!
Unfortunately, this is not the case. Research is your number one best friend. With me, it was more an issue of not knowing WHAT to research and instead of confronting the big, black void of the internet I wanted to do my own thing. This will give you no results and you will be spinning a, albeit smaller, black void all your own with no support or understanding from others because you have refused to connect with anyone.
WHAT TO RESEARCH:
Social media marketing: Search specifications for your chosen platforms
WHEN to post on social media – best time of day
Trending hashtags (trust me, it works)
How many hashtags per post?
How many posts per day?
FOLLOW AND INTERACT with others who are posting things like you. Trust me, they’re just people on the other end of the screen just like you. They like the interaction!
Literary agents – What is a literary agent? How do you find one? How to apply? What is a query letter? How do you format a query letter?
Companies – How to apply? Do you need a literary agent to apply? What are they looking for at this time? How to format your submission if they do not require a literary agent?
Manuscript – What is my manuscript (novella, novel, short story, etc.)? How do I format a manuscript? How many pages of my manuscript to turn in? Should I write a synopsis of my manuscript?
What is the best platform to self-publish on?
How do I make it to the top 10 chart in self-publishing?
How do I format my book?
Should I go electronic or print or both?
How to write a compelling book synopsis?
These are a few questions to get you started. Hopefully, you haven’t thought of some of these. Never stop asking questions. Once you find the answer, it should open up five more questions to research. We are in the information age. Use it!!
What I Do
So, what do I do that I have found to be successful? Well, my current project is an educational book series called “Tire Tales” wherein four main characters, who are tires, are attached to a motorhome traveling the USA on academic adventures! In order to help promote the book series, I have created profiles and presence on the following social media platforms:
Pinterest (less focus)
SCHEDULE: Every single week, on Sunday, I schedule posts for Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I write out the posts and schedule them to post for a specific day/time of the week. All together it takes me anywhere from 3-7 hours every Sunday. I find this preferable to spending 1-2 hours every day setting up posts or posting on the social media platform.
I started with Twitter. It is recommended that you post anywhere from 15 – 24 times a day. Yes. You read that correctly. Once per hour. This is due to the short shelf life of tweets. For Facebook and Instagram it is recommended to only post 1-2 times per day.
Through much trial and error I now post the same amount across all three platforms and schedule 7 posts a day, spaced out as evenly as possible (every 2-4 hours). The posts are as follows:
1 fun fact a day from Shelly, Speedy, and Amelia (3 posts) (8 am, 8 pm, 11 pm)
1 word of the day from Whiz (1 post) (2 pm)
1 picture with a quote about reading or teaching children (1 post) (2 am)
1 promotional post advertising the books, tshirts, or asking to like the page (1 post) (11-12 pm)
1 general information post about Tire Tales (1 post) (10 am)
Total posts: 7 (specific post times vary from week to week)
I also will add an extra post here and there when I think of something and make sure to actually send it between the hours I have scheduled for the previous posts.
Every single day I spend anywhere from 30 minutes – 1 hour, throughout the day (added up), interacting with other people who I follow from those social media accounts. Reading what they’re up to, liking their posts, creating genuine connections. I am happy to say I have started to make some very cool friends.
PROGRESS SO FAR/ RESULTS
I have started seeing some results, finally, after just shy of 2 months of consistent post scheduling and by results, I mean anywhere from 2-5 interactions and 1-2 follows per week just the last two weeks. It is SLOW. But it is happening and I could not be more excited!
Think of it this way, it takes time to grow in the hearts and minds of strangers.
Would I say it has been worth the effort? YES! Do I wish it was going faster? ALSO YES! But it is totally worth it and I am getting closer and closer to my goals of supporting myself completely through my writing every day!
Thank you for reading and good luck in your own business and don’t forget to follow me on social media, interact with my posts, and check out my books on Amazon!
Comment your favorite tips that you read here and what has worked for you!
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Sharing their posts
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Interacting with their posts by commenting and tagging others
Recommend their product or service to your friends and family.
With COVID-19 having an impact on schools, it can be easy for your student to fall behind. Don’t let it happen! Hire me to help your student brush up on their writing and prepare for the school year ahead!
I majored in English Writing and Publication and have two and a half years experience total as a writing tutor with all age levels, specializing in high school and college level writing. My tutoring style employs the use of the Socratic method of questioning along with metaphors and outside-the-box thinking to help your student learn how THEY best think, write, and go about problem-solving.
I am happy to boast that every student I have worked with has seen dramatic results reflected in both their school grades and self-confidence.
As a writer myself, I have been hired to write anniversary, birthday, and wedding poems, been an editor for religious pamphlets and novels, run an on-the-spot poetry booth, illustrated children’s books, been published in two magazines, and self-published three of my own books, with much more in the works! When it comes to writing, I’m all-in. My goal is to share my excitement of learning and writing with the student’s I tutor.
Contact me today to find out how you can give your student the personalized support they need to get a head start on the new school year!
I charge $50/hour and schedule based on your student’s needs and pace. Contact me via elexiabbott(a)gmail.com
[This is a writing I did in response to an ambiance video on YouTube that I was enjoying. You can find the video here.]
The Castle’s Library
It’s a dark, rainy night and I find myself in the castles’ library. The fireplace is adding an inspiring glow to the books on the shelf and the stone walls. I was to be at my simple home in the country by now but was asked by the king personally to stay. His specific words were to stay as long as I liked, but he was ordering a servant to put my horse back in the common stables when he did so. Suffice it to say, I got the impression that I was expected to stay a while. This library is most assuredly one of my most coveted rooms in all the castle. It’s a simple enough room but grand in all it’s written glory. To find a king that collects such fine books is most surely a rare sight indeed.
A man who I believe to be a visiting dignitary is writing his letters just behind me on a desk in the corner. I would feel obligated to move if not for the simple fact that I was here first! His mad bouts of scribbling are sure to drive any sensible person mad, but at the same time any sensible person will keel their mouth shut of such matters. What s pleasure it is to be able to sit and silently write about such misfortunes. Perhaps the important gentleman will find his way to one of the many other rooms of the castle and I can go back to writing in peace.
Peace is a funny word even in this tranquil setting. Just outside the ground is being pounded endlessly by sheets of heavy rain. Even the fireplace is bound to existence by violent means, devouring everything that cross into it’s stoney domain. And yet these natural violences combine with refined art and collections of sophisticated prose to creat an atmosphere of such ambiance that it has attracted, perhaps, the only two people awake in the whole castle!
Balance is a fickle thing. One carelessly misplaced strip of material and the fire would surely take the opportunity to crawl from it’s designated hearth. One stray lightning bolt on an over-dry plot of wheat and the town would be set ablaze by the fireplace’s larger cousin. I have witnessed many a time the king having to entreat himself to understanding the fickle nature of balance. Those that say the king is a greedy fellow are certainly correct, however they have no idea the burdens that lay upon his shoulders and his deep want to do good by his people. He is one of the few of us who is both able and allowed to indulge his carnal urges in food, drink, money, and intimate relations and he takes full advantage. But not so that his people go wanting.
Sure, they want. I hear their murmurings throughout every pub, farm, and shop from the center of town to the farthest placed home out in the kings countryside. But they want the treasures of fools. The king protects them, keeps them fed, and they’ve never known overtaxing a day in their life and yet still they gripe and moan. Such is the nature of humanity. Just like the destructive side of fire they won’t know to stop their campaign of devouring until they’ve eaten everything but their own mouths.
With these thoughts I do believe I will retire to my sleeping chamber. I grow weary of the insane scribbling just behind me.
Irish Breakfast tea – milk and sugar – rose teacup
This world is deep and yet flows without boundary. A twinge of sugar and rich softness decorate the bold result of a previously rigid and beautiful specimen ground up and covered in a hot bath. The vessel that the liquid sits in gives an overall delicate feel to a pool strong enough to heighten the senses despite the soft after tones. A rush of pleasant warmness fills from the core to the outer extremities and the thought, “this is peace” threatens to engulf.
Hello and welcome to my blog weary travelers! Today I issue you a writing challenge: write a short/micro story about a drink you are currently drinking.
If you do not currently have a drink in front of you, waiting until you do to try this writing challenge is perfectly fine, of course.
I wrote my first one about my Earl Grey tea (hot).
Mist rises over the land as the last clouds of a heavy thunderstorm trail away like dogs with their tails tucked between their legs. The morning sun giving strength to the power of light. Grass blades silently snap upright as they are strengthened by what little water was not swept away by the morning rays of sunlight. The meadow sings with the humming vibrations of life, the calm after the storm. A loon calls from a nearby lake and its eerie yet soothing melody carries over the previously thunder kissed hills.
So go out there, use the hashtag, and get writing! Post them below or use the hashtag to participate 🙂
The humans have all disappeared
and life is not the same
the birds are more plentiful in the sky
and there’s a sudden lack of acid rain
animals both big and small
are exploring outside their dwindling habitats
the canals have cleared and the air is near
as fresh as it’s been since we’ve attached
a feeling of love to mechanical things
and began to wander away from our original homes
in just a few weeks we can clearly see
a vast recovery in the world’s natural biomes.
So don’t tell me that climate change
is unaffected by human hands
this COVID-19 should really be
a wake up call that we need to make amends
I hope things are never the same again
I hope we all wake up from our slumber
I hope we all manage to clean up our act
and no longer on important issues lumber.
You can’t eat money and you can’t breathe stocks
but you can see the affect we’ll have when we’re finally off
the face of the planet and make room for nature to thrive
it’s time to take our eyes from ourselves and look towards the sky
the humans have all disappeared
and life is not the same
life is better and the land is unfettered
by the poisons we produce in economy’s name.