My time teaching and tutoring has taught me one very important lesson: how to compromise. A compromise is when both sides get a little of what they want. For example, tonight at tutoring I wanted my student to finish the last 40 pages of his novel during the 1.5 hour tutoring session. My student, however, wanted to check out a new book on optical illusions. In the past, I would have insisted that Jimmy (name changed to protect the stubborn) finish his reading before checking out the new book. I would have thought that the promise of goofing off at the end would have been enough motivation for Jimmy to get his work done. I would have insisted that my way was the most efficient.
The problem is, what seems rational to you doesn’t always seem rational to the person you’re trying to convince. And so, instead of arguing, we broke up Jimmy’s work into chunks. “Alright, Jimmy,” I agreed, “you can have a five minute break if you read five pages. Deal?” He agreed. In fact, Jimmy exceeded expectations and read ten pages before asking for his break. We then spent five minutes looking at the optical illusions book and relaxing. At the end of the break, Jimmy resisted for a minute, but settled back into his book. A few pages later, he wanted to tell me a joke. Now, I could have interrupted the working environment and insisted he keep reading, or I could let him tell me the joke and then insist he go back to work. I compromised and chose the latter.
By the end of the evening, after more than a few breaks, Jimmy had finished his book and taken the breaks he wanted. Sure, I would have liked Jimmy to get more work done on the worksheet he had to follow up on the novel, and I’m sure Jimmy would have preferred to spend less time working, but we both left satisfied.