Thursday, December 13, 2012

Fake Your Way to Happy

Prompt 10/28/2012 (Week 10):

Have you had any experience with students who were reluctant or resistant to being
tutored? How did you deal with it?

As fascinating as this subject is, I found a much more difficult problem just the other day. What do you do when you find that both you and the student are reluctant in the session? Do you throw your hands up in the air in mild irritation, sign their brown slip, and send them out the door? I doubt that I would get a promotion at work with an attitude like that. I think that the answer resides in the wonderful method of faking it.

Seriously, being able to fake excitement comes in handy. Some situations, like spending several hours with my anxious sister and her incredibly anxious husband, make me feel like I would rather read an entire lecture about the finer points of existential presupposition in linguistics than grit my teeth through another round of questioning about my dating and educational status. Especially since the aforementioned incredibly anxious husband has a low opinion on English degrees in general. I find that in situations like these, it’s better to fake my excitement. By perfecting the art of acting interested, I have been able to trick my brain into thinking that things are more pleasant than they really are.

How does this apply to tutoring? Well, there are going to be times where you and the student across from you would rather be anywhere but exactly where you both currently are. This is when you deploy the mask of fake enthusiasm. Find any little reason to enjoy the session. Pretend to be interested in going over essay structure for the fifth time that day. Laugh over how ridiculous the rules of English are. Smile at them and make eye contact. By going through the motions of acting happy, your brain will actually become more happy. Time will seem to pass more rapidly, and before you know it, you are done with the session and it wasn’t too painful.


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