Yesterday was my day to volunteer at Kaiser School. My first graders were happy to see me, and I was very happy to be there with them. We had lots of help in the classroom, almost too many to get around in the crowded room. There was me, a student teacher, Ms. H, a special needs teacher, and two mothers.
Sometimes in the past some of the volunteer mothers have driven me crazy. They hovered over their child who they helped too much, and they chatted and chatted. One mother even put her child in her lap and let her cry about how hard the work is. Not this year. The mothers are watching every child, they might give their child a pat as they go by, but they are working with all the children. One mother is on things immediately. She is on the trouble makers before I can get their names out.
Yesterday I mainly worked the room: listening to children read, pushing children to get done, helping with phonics and handwriting. The phonics workbooks did not go well, mainly because they did not listen to directions. The page had endings ack, ock, ick in columns and they were to put a beginning sound to them and create words. The beginning letters were given to them. All they had to do was write the letters given to them and the endings down the column. The first column was done as a group and then they were finish the page at their seats.
s t p st
__ack __ick __ock
sack _______ ________
tack _______ ________
pack ________ ________
stack _________ _________
Second column, what letters do I use? How do I spell . . . I can't do this, it's too hard. What are we to do? This was half the class. Now Ms. H gave great directions, this was not a teacher messing up. These children did not listen, and thought it didn't matter. Well it did, if they didn't finish, they stayed in at recess with me. Most suddenly cranked it out. No recess means I think I will listen to directions this time.
But one little girl J just would not listen or try. Her handwriting is poor, so I had dotted out the ack words for her. I told her again what to do. She traced over my dots and then started crying, J didn't know what to do. And cried and cried. I had zero sympathy for her. Ms. H had worked with her, the student teacher and I worked with her. She just didn't want to do the work. So she cried, and I kept telling her the directions. She wanted me to dot out the other columns and I refused. There is helping and there is doing the child's work. Still crying, she finally did the work, but not in time to have any recess.
The truth, I just wanted to shake J. This exercise required no real reading skills, really not even phonics skills. They had to follow directions and write new words. She had pulled the crying on the student teacher M last week. M told me she thought it was her fault that J cried. M was glad to see J pull it on some one else. If J had needed real help, yes we would have given it to her. But not listening and wanting an adult to tell her every step, no.
Some days are a little harder to feel good about helping. As I walked through the halls as most of the school was going to lunch, good things happened. Several of the 5th graders came up and hugged me. I had worked with them when they were 1st graders. Other children hugged me and called to me as I walked by the outside lunch tables (remember we are in California). Those hugs and waves are worth everything.