Thursday was the second day of tutoring this week, and it was very different from those preceding it. This time only two boys came, and seven girls. We met on Thursday rather than Wednesday which seemed to be problematic for two of the boys, Alfredo and Juan R. The girls were all new to this after school tutoring.
While the girls settled in, creating their own system for this time, Juan S. worked away at his vocabulary packet. He never asked for help, just sat there silently and waited for me to notice when he didn’t know what to do. When he spoke it was barely audible. He never talks much, and it seems the female energy may have been a little too much for him. I sat with him for a while, until he figured it out, and then moved on, just checking back in every so often to keep him moving. In the first forty-five minutes he finished a couple of pages of work, and then decided to show me that he knew how to fold a hopping origami frog. The other boy, Carlos, stayed for only half an hour to finish up his classwork and then left.
The girls, on the other hand were so gregarious. They did some work for a while, but spent more of their time chatting. Maria learned to cut snowflakes from freezer paper and was quite elated to have learned this feat. Nayeli and Dania worked together for a while, then surfed around on the computer for a few minutes. Gloria, Esperanza and Angelica sat quietly doing some work, with Gloria checking in every so often to show me that she had done all her work. I think this idea of work completion was an illusion, as her work habits in class make it seriously doubtful that she has actually finished even a fraction of it.
Another teacher, my daughter, came in for the last fifteen minutes and helped Maria with the snowflakes. When we left she asked if any of the girls had actually done any work, and I had to admit that they communed more than they worked. But at one time or another I’ve had problems with each of those particular girls’ behavior (they love to commune during class time as well) and work habits (little to none), and this seemed a good chance to build a stronger connection with them which I hope will help me be a more effective teacher for them in the months to come. The one thing I would say that all of these kids have in common is that each is at high risk for failing to succeed in the next years of school. Their voluntary presence at school after hours seems to me a good sign of possibility for them.
We have two more days of tutoring lined up before winter vacation, and I am thinking that we will work diligently on the first of these. The second, which will be after the quarterly benchmark exam, I’m thinking we might make a craft day. Or cookie decorating, maybe. Something fun to celebrate the season. Then when we return, I want to continue with this because I’m learning lots about my students and I think it just might help not only them academically, but all of us with a better classroom dynamic. I’m thinking maybe we could use this time for something other than just classwork finishing. Maybe we’ll try a book club? Make some digital stories? It seems that some academic enrichment might be a good way to increase their buy-in to school. Their entire school history has been spent preparing for standardized tests, nothing that is likely to make a kid think school is anything other than tedious. I’m going to work on some other ideas for this time. We’ll see what I come up with. Any ideas from you would be welcomed!