What would you do in this particular situation?

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  1. rlaha profile image61
    rlahaposted 11 years ago

    I tutor 3 kids (brother and 2 sisters).  The mother is a housewife, has never worked outside of the home and does not drive.  Her husband will not let her.  I honestly do not think that she has studied anything past high school levels.  She expects me to be there every day from Monday-Friday.  On Monday-Wednesday, I tutor her son.  On Thursday, I tutor one of her daughters. On Friday, I tutor the other daughter and the son again.

    Now, mind you I am a very patient person.  I know that things come up where there are emergencies and what not.  I can understand that she has to go to church with her family on certain days of the month. 

    However,  for the past couple of months, she has been skipping a few days where she says she has to go school shopping for the kids, or that she has to go food shopping.   These are not emergencies.  She can ask her husband to take her on the weekend for these non-emergencies. 

    At this point, I am really upset at the fact that one, she doesn't understand enough English for me to explain what I am feeling, and two, why does she have to drag the whole family for food shopping?  She can take her two daughters, but her son is old enough to stay at home by himself.  I don't think she understands the fact that her kids are failing in school because she isn't strict enough with them to understand the importance of education. 

    I am stuck here because I really need the money.  If I didn't need it so badly (this is my only source of income at this point), I would leave.

    Can someone help me to phrase my conversation with her and her husband in a way where:

    1) she will understand what it is she is doing to me (I have to drive 25 miles each way for this family)

    2) she will understand how it is affecting her children's education

    3) that going for food shopping, school shopping, etc. are NOT emergencies and that going during the times that I am supposed to be helping her children is NOT important- that their education is more important?

    I'm sorry I am complaining, but as of today, this is the 4th non-emergency she has had so that she could cancel tutoring.  I am literally at  my wit's end with this family.

    1. wheelinallover profile image75
      wheelinalloverposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Riaha, unless you can't afford the "trips" consider them field trips, chances for the children to learn outside the classroom environment. No good teacher thinks of teaching as a job. If you consider it like you are a business "selling" to a client this really comes into play. The customer is always right. If you can't afford the fuel talk to "your employer" and explain "mileage is extra". Set the mileage price at $1.00 a mile and believe me the husband will do most (probably all) of the explaining for you.

      As I understand it there are three children and yourself. Explain to the children what they should be learning in these situations and pair two of the children and yourself and the other. Without the ages it is hard to give you an idea of how to use this time to the students best advantage. In the past I have been able to use both short and long car trips as teaching tools. Grocery stores and clothing stores even more.

      As a teacher you should watch for areas which peak the interest of the child then use these areas in your classroom situation. This time can also be used to find the best learning method for each child. If you don't understand what learning styles are I am sure there are hubs written about them. Explain to the children you want to know what they learn on the trips, this can be orally or in written word.

      One method I have used is having the children work together writing, and putting on plays about their experience. If you can bring the subject you are tutoring into play even better. Don't use the word "homework" children balk at this idea but will often spend hours working on something to please both themselves and "a teacher."

      The best way to teach has always been engaging the children. Even though at different ages children stop asking "why" this is still part of them. These trips are a good place for them to come up with questions. You want them asking questions. Then you want to answer with enough information so the student can grasp how to answer their own question. This works for young children as well as adults.

      About me, Although I have lived in the United States my entire life English is my third language. I have spent 12 years in the education field as a para professional working with developmentally disabled children and adults. As a volunteer I have worked with families for whom English is a second language, and have worked with children teaching them Spanish as a second language.

      In all over two school years in a classroom situation for a major school district, and a private school. Add to this two years of tutoring college students. All of this while in business earning the majority of my yearly income within a three month period.

      1. rlaha profile image61
        rlahaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        I had a talk with the lady who referred me to this lady.  I explained the situation and she said it was because the lady does not know English, and because she expects more than what she supposedly "deserves", that she acts that way.  I just asked the lady to try to explain my point of view to her so that she could see where I was coming from.

        The lady called me back and explained that this lady now does not want me to tutor the girls.  I don't understand why she just didn't say so to my face instead of giving me the run around.  Anyway, the matter has been resolved for now, but I was told to tell the lady that if she is inconsiderate again (like calling me a half hour before I am supposed to be there), then I should stop going there.


    2. Lisa HW profile image59
      Lisa HWposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Part objective opinion here, part devil's advocate; but I think you're mixing a few different issues here. 

      First, I don't think you should assume that they don't understand the importance of their children's education or that they don't care about it.  They're already paying for a private tutor, which at least says a little something about them.  If the husband doesn't allow the wife to drive (or whatever he doesn't "allow") you can't assume that the same husband doesn't tell her to get the shopping done when he's not around.  You can't assume that because the woman doesn't work or doesn't have a degree, or that because English is her second language, that she doesn't value, or know,  some things.  You can't assume she isn't a mother who doesn't want to leave a child alone, or her house, with an "outsider" (we've all seen those cases on the news; this lady may not leave her son for reasons very different from what you think).  That's not even saying she doesn't trust you.  It's saying that her head tells her that even if she does she shouldn't take any chances with her child.

      Basically, you're doing what a lot of people do, which is to extend beyond the problem at hand and on to imagining what's in someone else's head (or not in her head).  She could be someone who figures, "I'm paying this individual to do work for me.  I have a right to cancel."  She may or may not know any number of things.  That doesn't matter and isn't really the point.  Some people have that "attitude" when they're paying for a service.  She may be thinking, "Teach my kids when you're here.  Don't worry about anything we do or think beyond trying to teach the children the subject."

      I think you have to look only at your own problem and her behavior with regard to cancelling.  No matter how much you need the money, you could (if you were willing to do without the money and can't find income from anywhere else) quit.  Whether you can find other income really isn't her problem.  So I think you have to decide to either keep the income from her or do without it.

      If you decide you want/need to keep it you have three options:  Telling her you'll be charging for cancelled appointments (and risking her telling you that she'll find another tutor), asking her to give you 24 or 48 hours notice  "so you can rearrange your schedule" (and either charging her for cancellations too close to the appointment time, and risking her refusal to comply or else her thinking you've "too picky" and dumping you), or unhappily accepting that she does what she does, teaching the kids when you're there, not spending your own brain-time thinking beyond just trying to teach the kids when you're there, and keeping in mind that a lot of people who need money badly take "lousy gigs" in order to earn it.

      If she's waiting until you show up at the door, or until an hour before you're supposed to be there, to cancel she's being really thoughtless and disrespectful.  There's no doubt about that.  I'd think you could politely ask her not to wait so long before cancelling (if you haven't already done that).  I'd think she can understand that much.  If that works, great.  If it doesn't (and she either refuses to comply with the request or else tells you she'll find someone else) you have to either decide to accept the lousy treatment with the money, or else let her find someone else.

      I think, when it comes down to it, the only thing you need her to understand is that driving so far for nothing is a problem for you.  You can't know what other factors exist in her life that may actually make that food shopping more of an emergency that it would appear to an outsider.  You can't assume she doesn't understand what missing a lesson might (or might not) do to her child's education; because a whole family's worth of kids who need tutoring indicates that there's stuff going on besides one kid's missing a few math lessons.  There's a chance these kids aren't going to benefit all that much from tutoring (I hate to say it, but kids with too many school problems often don't benefit a whole lot even one-on-one attention).  This lady may know her kids aren't getting much from the tutoring, so she maybe that's why she a) feels so free to cancel, and b) may not respect you as much as you really deserve to be respected.

      People like social workers and teachers who deal with some kinds of families often burn out because they discover how futile it can be. I think the only problem you should be looking at, addressing, and/or unhappily living with is the simple matter of cancellations and inconvenience to  you (and the not-so-minor matter of not being treated with respect).

      With all the other "surrounding" stuff, I think you're likely either  under-estimating the woman out of not understanding what she lives with, worries about, or sees for herself;  or else over-estimating your own potential impact on the overall education of those children.

      These people are handing over money that they either can easily afford or that is difficult for them to afford.  If they can easily afford it it's probably safe to assume they're not completely ignorant and stupid people.  The fact that the wife doesn't work doesn't mean she's stupid, lazy, or ignorant.  On the other hand, if they can barely afford tutoring (which actually could be the reason for cancelling so often), they're apparently trying to keep the kids from failing and/or being in the Special Needs program.  It looks as if they already do care about their children's education a lot more than you may think.  Then again, if the only reason they've gone the tutor route is that they wanted to refuse Special Needs help without having Children's Services brought into the mix; well, maybe, if the kids get nothing from tutoring the next thing will be that social workers get introduced to the picture.  (Maybe that's what they need if they're as clueless as you seem to think they are.)

      Either way, when people are in "desperate" need of money they run that much more risk of being vulnerable to burnout; so between your profession and your apparent financial need, I just think you need to let a bunch of the "extra" stuff go (if for no reason other than aiming to lower the risk of emotional burnout).  Living with cruddy situations isn't easy, but stewing over them can make them worse.

      1. rlaha profile image61
        rlahaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

        Thanks for the information.

        1. wheelinallover profile image75
          wheelinalloverposted 11 years agoin reply to this

          I had to read this again to truly understand the problem. I assumed wrongly that you were the one taking the woman and her children shopping. I am glad at least something worked out for you. I also agree that if this continues, it is better to look for another job.

          One of the women who is in our "family" fell and broke her foot. She was out of work for three weeks. While she was gone her employer hired a replacement who is now getting all the hours this woman was getting. She is very unhappy now with the lack of hours.

          We have talked several times and in the end she has decided to look for another job. The one thing I kept reminding her was "she was looking for a job when she found that one."

          She chooses not work for the corporation as she feels her dyslexia would hurt more than help. She is a trained nurses aid and loves her work. She likes making a difference in people's lives. We have learned to understand this and let her do what she loves.

          1. rlaha profile image61
            rlahaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

            Hi Wheelinallover: No, I am not taking her for shopping,etc.  Her husband apparently comes home early on Thursdays and that is when they usually do their shopping.  She should have just told me instead of doing all of this.  According to the other lady, the last tutor also got fed up with her.

  2. Journey * profile image80
    Journey *posted 11 years ago

    Hi rlaha, I understand your frustration and hope the situation improves soon. I have done tutoring as well and with someone who is not fluent in English, your dilemma is not an easy one to fix.

    Nevertheless, to make sure things run smoothly, you can change your policies. As an independent professional, you can indeed have policies in place and convey them clearly in writing. I would suggest you draw up a written contract in the most simple language and sit with the children's mother to explain it. In the contract, you can mention your attendance policy. For example, if a certain number (2,3?) of appointments are canceled with insufficient notice to you, then you can no longer meet with the tutoring client. You can determine what insufficient notice is (less than 24hrs? less than 48hrs?)

    You can begin looking for other tutoring clients from now in case you need new people to work with. Hope this helps. Good luck to you! More and more types of businesses do this to keep things running smoothly. For example, at the kids doctor's office, they might dismiss her from the practice if she misses too many scheduled appointments.

    1. rlaha profile image61
      rlahaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      THanks Journey. I have been looking for more students to tutor, but so far no luck even though I have tried putting my business cards in schools and tutoring centers.

      I will have to do the contract thing, because apparently this isn't working right. Thanks for all the input. I will definitely be taking your suggestions to heart.

  3. profile image0
    kelleywardposted 11 years ago

    Maybe try Getting someone who can translate that feels comfortable to the both of you to discuss this with. She sounds isolated and lonely. Sorry you are in this situation. You sound like a very caring and concerned person. I hope the best for you.

    1. rlaha profile image61
      rlahaposted 11 years agoin reply to this

      Hi Kelleyward: We sort of resolved the situation. I was able to talk to the lady who referred this family to me.  She ended up talking to the lady and explained what I was feeling and how we have a communication barrier because I don't speak her language.  The lady told her that she only wants me to come and tutor the son from now on. I wish she would have been able to tell me that before, but oh well. I just hope that this is the final thing. Thanks!


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