By Hannah Heiden
I joined Saga because I believe high-quality education should be accessible to everyone. I grew up in a low-income area, but I was fortunate enough to have so much support throughout my education that I was able to succeed academically, and I want to be that beacon of support for our students.
It wasn't what I expected. As a remote tutor, I had some challenges in keeping students' attention, but I was also surprised by the connections I was able to make with the students and how quickly they grew as students and people.
Looking back, I am happy I worked with Saga as a tutor. Personally, I became a better communicator completely, I think I am much better at listening and explaining ideas. More importantly, I saw so much growth in their abilities as well as in their confidence and excitement about math.
I have a class period in which every day the students come in, excited to tell me about what they did over the weekend and trying to be the first one to explain their thinking and putting all their effort into each question, even if they aren't sure they'll get it right. It's just so exciting to see that they feel comfortable in class and to watch them get excited to explain how they got their answers. One of my students told me our class was his favorite class, and I have watched him go from second guessing all his answers to confidently explaining his thinking to the class.
I learned so much from my students. They've shown me complex ways of approaching problems that I'd never considered, they've helped me discover strategies that help me communicate ideas much more clearly, and they've shown me how much I really love helping people and giving back.
This experience has helped me become much stronger in communication, which I think is the most important skill for any job and for life in general. Learning how to ask the right questions and how to explain answers in a clear concise way is a skill that I think has to be learned through trial and error. Working in Saga helped me become more efficient and effective at delivering and receiving information.
I would tell potential tutors to go into each class ready to listen to the students. To be the most effective teacher, you have to listen first. Let them show you what they know and work to guide them to the answer. Even if you have a bad day, go into the next like the bad day never happened!
The part I love most about being a tutor is seeing my students every day and talking with them. They're so funny and so smart. I'm going to miss seeing my students and my team the most, I love everyone here and am going to miss working with them.
I am really happy I got to work at Saga because, while math isn't my main passion, it was so fulfilling to give students the extra support they deserve and to show them how smart they are! We were here to help them see that they are more than capable of success in math and life as a whole, and I felt fortunate to be a part of that.
Hannah Heiden is a 21-22 Saga Fellow, serving students online in New York City, NY.