Sunday, March 25, 2007
On The Outside Looking In
Does anyone outside of a classroom really have a clue what it takes to make a student successful? I highly doubt that.
C-6 assignments "brought" to my school much needed tutoring. I leave the brought in quotes because for the most part it is tutoring on paper only. Up until this week, I had a little table, with dividers in the back of the library to work on. There was only room for six people to sit and no way to walk around. It was a good thing that the other teachers from different subject areas decided to skip this assignment because there would have been no way that English, history, science, etc,etc, etc tutoring could have gone on. After much complaining on my part, tutoring got moved to a better part of the library.
A very nice parent came to see me parent teacher conferences because his son gets help from me daily for his pre-calculus class. The parent thanked me and then asked why is son was still having trouble. I explained that I am only one person, tutoring sometimes up to ten kids on different levels. Although I can do the pre-calculus, there are topics I do not remember off hand and have to read the book. With a big crowd, I just don't have time. The same is true for the kids in math 6. There are some topics I just need to refresh myself on and since I have not taught this subject since the new curriculum came into being it takes me a while. The parent was shocked. He thought tutoring mean this son's topics would be the only ones gone over. He had no idea of what was really going on. He felt betrayed by the school. And, his son is one of the luckier ones. I know that some of the math teachers cannot do the pre-calc stuff and will not even bother reading the book.
Another parent whose child is struggling insists that her child comes to the library for help from me daily. No amount of talking to her could convince her that I would barely be able to help her with more than two or three questions and she should try to find an alternative.
I recently saw one of my failing students in the library. I immediately called her over and paired her with two other kids in my class so she could get some help. I told them to work together every day. The girl said "Ms, I only have tutoring on Thursday. I am excused from gym for math help." It would have been nice if I had been informed of this. I wonder how many kids are floating around that have been "excused" from gym and are not availing themselves of tutoring. Besides, even if she does come every time, how much help will I actually be able to give her?
Two years ago I came up with a tutoring plan that worked. I paired my calculus students with kids who were not achieving. My kids worked one-to-one with these other students. They became friends, e-mailed and phoned each other for extra help. It worked. I had a 100% success rate. I rewarded my students by putting extra effort into their college recommendations and by helping them whenever they needed help. This semester I have a Muslim girl tutoring a Spanish girl, an African-American tutoring an Asian boy and a Korean girl tutoring an African American kid. The kids are not only learning, but they are also looking past race, nationality and religion and seeing each other as valuable members of society, an integral part of education.
I would have liked to expand this program. But, Principal Suit likes seeing my name on paper as one of the library tutors. I just don't have the time or energy to continue. I still try to set up tutoring schedules for my own students but turn down anyone who is not in my class presently. I feel bad saying this to some of the resource room teachers who come to me, but I just can't continue at this rate. Maybe I am being selfish, but I want to take back my life. I want to have a free period to eat lunch and I want to have my prep period daily. I've come to the realization that I can't save the world and I am going to stop trying to. All the administrators and politicians that think they have the answers don't even have a clue as to what the problems are. Stop legislating and demanding and let teachers do what they think is right for their students.