Monday was very exciting. I had my first "in school residency." I'm volunteering with an organization that provides a lot of different tutoring services for kids, including sending you into the schools to work in classes on their writing. I'm working with three other people in a fifth grade class and, funny story, their teacher is married to a girl I went to elementary school with. We're doing writing conferences with the kids. They write something, we get them to tell us about it, read it to us, and then give them suggestions for making it better. We aren't correcting grammar or spelling, just getting them to do things like add more detail, be more creative, explain things more. It was a lot of fun! It seems like a great class of kids. They're creative, smart, well behaved, curious. I think this is going to be a really great opportunity to learn more about being in a classroom environment. The teacher, Mr H, even said that we're welcome to come up with our own lesson plans if we want. It wouldn't be a very involved lesson plan, I'd pretty much just give them a writing topic, but you know, it's still practice, and I'm still getting time in a classroom.
On Monday I also got assigned a learner from the literacy organization I'm working with! Since I'll be tutoring an adult we call the person we're working with a learner rather than a student, to keep the relationship on equal footing as a partnership rather than as a teacher-student thing. My learner, K, just graduated from high school but according to my information on her, she only has a beginner reading level. That means that she reads somewhere between a kindergarten and second grade level. She has trouble sounding out words, doesn't read much, and is scared of writing. How kids like this just get passed through the system without getting additional help is completely beyond me. A beginning level reader has trouble filling out basic forms! How can a teacher think that's okay? You have to give her credit, she must be very clever to have done well enough to be passed through her classes despite her low reading and writing levels. I haven't met her yet but we set up our first meeting, which will be on Friday morning. I guess I'll find out more then! At our first meeting we'll mostly be getting to know each other, going over her long term goals and what she wants to work for the next year. I'm a little concerned that her dad is going to try to be too involved. When I called to set up our meeting she wasn't there so he set up the meeting place and time with me. She is 18, still living at home, and she just finished high school, so it's normal that he thinks he should still be in charge of his little girl and her education. I'll just have to make it clear to her on Friday that I'm working with her, not her dad, and that she and I will decide things together. I guess we'll just see how it goes on Friday!
I'm really excited to be doing things that matter, and not just filling my day with "stuff" like going to the pharmacy, going grocery shopping, whatever. I'm actually doing things that make a difference, doing things that I like, that are connected to my future education and career plans. It makes me feel like my life is on play again instead of being stuck indefinitely on pause.