Teaching to Read and Learning to Teach

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless. -1 Corinthians 15:58

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I am comfortably settling in to my job at Encore Academy. My job is proving to be challenging, but I am enjoying it very much.

A lot of my day is spent helping second grade teachers. The second graders rotate classrooms for English, Math and Science, so I follow one homeroom class to their different classes and assist the “real” teachers with whatever they need. I know those thirty kids pretty well now.

However, the most important part of my job is meeting with groups of first and second graders who are behind a grade level in reading. After lunch I meet with a group of six second graders and we play spelling games where we write letters on small tiles and rearrange them to spell different words. Later I spend time with six first graders, and we sort pictures into charts of letters. We talk about what letter each word starts with and then review letter names and letter sounds.

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An example of how we use our letter tiles in my second grade group

Most of my kids are improving in their reading, and I can tell their answers to my questions are coming to them quicker and easier. I really enjoy spending time with these 12 students, and I can’t wait to see their reading improve even more.

The most challenging part of my job is discipline. Anyone who has met me can imagine how I much I can fail when it comes to being stern and telling anyone what to do with any authority. I have had kids laugh at me when I try to correct their behavior, and I still don’t have complete control over my small groups. I have had to break my first grade group into two groups of three so that certain kids don’t disrupt the learning by talking to each other instead of listening to me. I feel like I have tried everything–letting the kids come up with rewards and consequences, giving multiple reminders, giving them plenty of opportunities to participate so they’re not just sitting and listening, making a big deal out of kids who are following directions to encourage the other kids to follow that example–but there are days when I feel like there’s nothing I can do to get my students to pay attention and stay calm so they can learn. If anyone has any advice for me I will gladly try anything. I love every student dearly, but sometimes I get frustrated with my inability to have any authority over them.

To end on a happy note, I am still enjoying life in New Orleans. My housemates are awesome and we have a lot of fun together. Here is a group picture of all of us on Halloween.

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3 thoughts on “Teaching to Read and Learning to Teach

  1. Linda Connolly says:

    I’m proud of you Courtney. Everything takes time and I’m sure these kids are going to make great strides with your help. Am also confidante that they already love you.

    Love, Grandma

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  2. Mom says:

    Hooray for new pictures! I miss you so much, but it makes me happy to see you making a difference during your time away and building great friendships with your fellow YAVs. I am sure the kids love you and appreciate the help you are giving them. It sounds like you’ve tried a lot of different techniques for the behavior stuff, I hope that starts getting better. Seems like smaller groups would be helpful, some kids just don’t do well together.

    I love you and I miss you bunches. Can’t wait to see you in 27 days!

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  3. Tracy Wehby says:

    Wow, it sounds like you are making a real difference in your life! I am super proud of you!! I have no idea about the bratty kids, I am sure the second grade teachers have the same problems with them. I don’t know if it would work, but maybe you could rotate each day letting one kid be the teachers helper-maybe if the bad ones were made to feel special they would want to please you? Or maybe they would just be bratty on that day too:) You are doing a great job and I love that picture!! Enjoy your time in NOLA~

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