There was no school last Wednesday. It was Thanksgiving break.
Today there was a substitute teacher. Fortunately the regular teacher had left the supplies I needed and instructions. I’d managed to get there a little earlier so I had time to figure out what the game plan was before rather than during the session. Sometimes I get there and I have to figure it out as I go. Sometimes it doesn’t matter even if I get there early and study the plan, because the students have their own agendas.
Today I had S, V, and J on the list, in that order. I’ve asked the teacher to put them in the order I need to work with them, and usually I go with that. I still don’t know why she puts S on my list because he does fabulously. Today was no exception.
I had the old standbys and some new items today. I had the foam alphabet board, the letter tracing cards, and some books. I also had these colorful laminated folders with old fashioned library check out envelopes inside. I had quickly flipped through them but not really studied what was inside. I figured that I’d learn it along with them.
S chose the foam alphabet board and quickly was able to find every letter that I asked for. It is so amazing to watch them grow! He did well the last time I worked with him but this was remarkable. I realized we could move on and quickly switched to the stack of folders and had him pick one. He chose the red one. I looked inside and it looked a little hard.
There were the standard library book card pockets, but instead of letters inside them there were pictures of items. The student needed to name the item ( works on vocabulary) and then figure out what letter the word started with and match it to the letter on the library pocket. That is a huge step. That is going from a sound to a letter. Last time we were working with matching capital letters to lower case letters. Even that was hard. This seemed impossible.
Never say never. S did fabulously. This is even more amazing since he was tired. He told me that he had stayed up late playing with toys. We read two books together afterwards.
When I say “books” I mean these little paperbacks that have maybe eight pages at most, and each page has less than ten words. They are the very essence of a quick read. They are easy and they give the children a sense of accomplishment and keep their attention.
I sent him back and went to get V. She too did very well with the foam alphabet board so we switched to the red folder.
J was sent by the teacher to take a note to another teacher, so he passed V and I in the hall as we were working on the red folder. He stopped, looked at what we were doing, and said “Her doesn’t know how to do that so good.”
I wasn’t sure what to respond to first. A) it is grammatically incorrect. B) it is rude. C) it isn’t true.
She was doing very well, and I said so. I wanted to make sure I defended her and set the record straight. I decided that was the most important thing. I didn’t say what I was thinking. I bet that she could do that exercise far better than he could.
He asked me if he was on my list and I said yes, but it depended on whether I had time or not. He looked at V and said “Hurry up!” There is no hurrying this – I’ll keep them as long as they will work with me. Well, or until the class goes out to recess. I didn’t get to work with J today because we ran out of time. In a way I’m glad. I don’t like to reward rude behavior.
I try to space them out and make sure that I can get to all of them, but I’m also interested in quality over quantity. I find it amazing when I remember that when I started tutoring three years ago I’d have five or six on my list. I was there for the same amount of time. I don’t know how I did it. Perhaps these really need more work and attention. I do know that there is another tutor so the teacher can spread out the students. I also know I get the lowest performers.
There are two little girls who look at me with longing eyes every time on Wednesdays. They ask me if I’m going to work with them. They will most likely never be on my list – they don’t need me. I try to get across the idea that I don’t make the list, but I don’t want to get across the fact that they should be grateful they aren’t on my list. The ones on my list are the ones who are the lowest of the low when it comes to performance. The teacher hypes up the fact that the ones on the list are lucky that they get to work with me, so these girls want to get in on this. The teacher hypes it up because she wants the kids I work with to get excited rather than think it is a remedial action.
It is exciting to learn, and I am grateful that I somehow have the ability to get inside their heads and help them get the missing parts. I’m grateful I get to see them grow and develop. While I wish that I’d get to work with a larger variety of students like I have done in years past, I also realize that I’d probably get frustrated going from one who works at a second grade level back to one who works at a pre-K level.