At Access Learning we have an team of eight incredible tutors who all bring something unique and meaningful to our community of learners. This week, our blog would like to introduce Leslie Casey, an experienced educator with a passion for helping English language learners. Read her thoughtful and inspiring responses below to our fourth “Meet the Tutor” installment.
What is your favourite thing about tutoring?
The thing I enjoy most about tutoring is getting to know my students on a one-to-one basis. It’s wonderful to watch as they begin to gain confidence and get excited about the work we are doing. Having the trust of my students is its own reward; once we achieve that comfort level, the sessions are so much fun!
What do you like about working with Access Learning?
I love the professionalism that is so much a part of Access Learning. Pamela Robinson sets high standards for herself and everyone on the team; she strives constantly to support the tutors, while allowing them the autonomy to set their own schedules in consultation with each family. I enjoy working independently, but also having the chance to meet with the whole team to share experiences and ideas that help Access Learning grow.
Tell us about a time when you felt really great about one of your tutoring sessions.
In general terms, I feel the most satisfaction when I have a student who is reluctant, initially, to participate in a tutoring session. When I have a student who is shy or lacking confidence for some other reason, I focus on activities that encourage communication and incorporate the student’s interests. A student who likes to draw, for example, might illustrate a concept or idea, while I ask questions about the picture to test my understanding. Sometimes, I do the drawing; my stick figures inevitably draw a smile and a comment. Each tiny step forward feels like a victory.
What’s one piece of advice you always give your tutoring students?
I tell my students that learning is a process that includes making mistakes. I encourage them to view mistakes as a positive sign of progress. I want my students to recognize their own courage in risking themselves when they aren’t sure of the answer.
What was the last book you read? Can you tell us a bit about it?
I keep a wicker basket filled with books beside my bed. I alternate between novels, books of nonfiction, and poetry. Right now, I am reading The Paper Garden by poet and novelist Molly Peacock. It is the true story of Mary Delaney (1700-1788) who at the age of 72 invented a new art form: mixed media collage, as a way of dealing with the grief of losing her husband. Over the next decade, she created hundreds of beautiful, botanically accurate flower mosaics out of tissue paper and hand colouring, many of which are displayed in the British Museum. As a believer in the value of lifelong creativity, I am inspired by Mary herself, as well as the research and detail that went into her creations using basic rudimentary materials.
When you were a kid, what did you want to be?
As I child, my dream was to be a pediatric nurse. I remember one Christmas when I was about nine years old receiving a book on human anatomy that I had asked for. I treasured the book, but as time went on I realized that what I wanted most was to help children and young adults to learn, no matter what challenges they faced. I studied in the field of education and English Second Language, and have been fortunate in having the opportunity to work all across Canada, including the Northwest Territories.
If you could be any kind of animal, which would you choose and why?
That’s an easy one – I would definitely be a Canada goose. I have always loved the sight and sound of the geese as they herald Spring and Fall. I love their loud chit-chat; the way they support each other as they fly in formation. For me, geese symbolize the change of seasons; they remind me that, no matter how things change, life can be trusted to come full circle.
Summer, spring, winter, or autumn? Why?
Autumn is my absolute favourite season. I love the way the humid heat of summer gives way to days of crisp cool air. I love the smells of Autumn, the turning of the leaves from green to red gold orange, and the memories I have of raking the falling leaves to make leaf houses. Autumn represents the excitement of a new school year; a fresh start to learning. Finally, I love the way Autumn ends with the magic of the first snowfall.
What is a quote that inspires you?
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe