Transitions

By VEP tutor Connie Partridge

The question of transition comes up for tutors when we have been working with our adult learners for a while. As a former medical social worker, I can say that discharge planning begins as soon as the person comes under our care. This is a way of keeping our time together goal oriented. The role we have as a VEP tutor is less dictated by hard and fast guidelines. Yet we must keep our focus on our students – their needs and achievements.

For example, a student of mine once had to take a SEPTA train to an appointment in Philly. She had expected either her spouse or me to accompany her. However, neither of us was available. She went alone, got off at the wrong stop, found someone to help her and reached her destination as planned. Her self-confidence was greatly enhanced by this experience. Sometimes we need to allow our students to blossom with the skills that, together, we have cultivated. When this student had accomplished her two main goals: a driver’s license and citizenship, she began a different chapter in her life here. Her choices made it difficult for us to schedule regular meetings. We found this was a good time to discontinue working together.

Once you are no longer tutor and student, you have the opportunity to have the same range of relationships as with any other adult. We have the option to remain a presence in one another’s lives. One student describes me and my spouse as her adopted U.S. parents. Another we see infrequently at major life events. For yet another, our relationship is something in between those two.

While still tutoring, tutors would do well to remember the primary task is to assist the student in reaching his or her goals. You may have an opportunity to switch from speaking, reading and writing to preparing for specific exams such as citizenship or driving. It may be that the student would benefit from a new tutor with different perspectives. This might include someone with a new approach or one with specific knowledge of a particular profession or area of interest.

The experience of tutoring enriches our lives. A different student brings a new relationship, new challenges, new perspectives and a novel exposure to some country and culture.

Ask yourself: “What is best for my student?” Remain open to the possibilities.

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