Paying It Forward

imageI was fit to be tied, muttering, grimacing and grinding my teeth. The cause of all this anguish was a small, 6x9 inch rectangular piece of technology, and it was quickly bringing me to my knees.  

The current situation took me back to my many years in the classroom.  When teaching new concepts, for example division of fractions, students were frequently flummoxed.  There were always a few who had great difficulty understanding the process and the steps necessary to successfully complete a fraction problem requiring division.  And, invariably, another student who had quickly grasped the lesson might comment to a fellow struggling learner, “It’s easy.”  I would then have to caution the successful student that “It is only easy once you understand the process.”  Fortunately, with enough repetition and explanation, my students would begin to experience repeated success.  In time we would be able to move on to the next chapter in the arithmetic text.

After a career as an educator that spanned forty years, I retired.  I discovered that I could use my teaching skills as a volunteer for the adult literacy Reading Program sponsored by my local library.  Upon completing my training, I was paired with a female student, and we began weekly two-hour sessions. We quickly bonded and have been together for three or four enjoyable years now. It was on such a recent tutoring afternoon when the situation that begins my story took place.  

The cause of the “weeping and gnashing of teeth” was my purchase of an Apple i-pad and the “oh so steep” learning curve to become familiar with how to successfully operate it.  Very quietly, calmly and competently my student began teaching me how the various operations worked and soon I was feeling considerably less frantic.  Just as my own young students of many years ago felt the rush of understanding, I too enjoyed the realization of progress and accomplishment.

The irony was not lost on me.  Here I was, the teacher being taught by the student.  I was so thankful that she had the knowledge that I badly needed and was able to communicate it to me.  To me, this was “paying it forward” in grand style.
~ By Barbara Bottini, Reading Program Volunteer

Thanks Barbara for the wise words.
11/30/2015 7:00:46 PM

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Reading Program

The Reading Program

350 W. Sixth Street
Gilroy, CA 95020
Providing free adult literacy services throughout Santa Clara County Library District
Phone: (408) 262-1349