I thought I would try to go back to what I used to do as a teacher. Last year it took me about three months to get approved as a volunteer at our local school district. It was quite a screening process including a local doctor's office and a nurse taking a blood test. It also included a screening by the local police department. About a month before school was out I was approved and went to help the "music"/ librarian teacher. She let me present a couple of books to a couple of classes. Her music teaching classes were not at the times that I could volunteer. They had a "chorus" that was composed of all ages and was preparing for specific assemblies and shows. The program was well in place and not needing my help or suggestions.
This school year I thought I'd start again and volunteer in a classroom of a kid I knew of. That teacher already had a "student teacher" and although she took my name, didn't call me back or need me. So I called the Principal and asked if she could help place me in a classroom with a teacher who really needed my abilities and experience. She called back with a volunteer teacher who has the Special Ed. class of 12 students. I agreed.
I showed up 15 minutes early and signed in. I didn't have my own special page because I hadn't reapplied for this school year. The principal was right there and asked if I had been tested. "Yes," I said, "last school year". She said I would have to fill out at yellow form. She took me down to the classroom to meet the teacher. She was talking with the district psychologist and preparing for a new child to come that day. She was listening to her orchestra's new CD. She is looking forward to touring with them to Lithuania this year.
I was assigned to one boy student who she said was having trouble doing anything or responding to class instructions. I spotted him as they came in. He had all the latest book bags and cartoon logo stuff. He had to be told to put it in the cupboard with the other's stuff. They lined up to go out to the all-school opening and flag salute. He was last in line. He was not introduced to me or me to him. He kind of caught on when I followed him. We got back to the classroom, the teacher told them what they were going to do today, how the schedule had changed and they had "team" to go to. Again he wasn't all that focused on her or what was required. He was very quite though and small. We then were escourted all the way to the other side of the school to another first grade class for "team". Kids lined up in the hall from several different rooms. The all were highly praised for walking and lining up in the halls and being "zipped and flipped". That meant, mouth zipped or closed and arms folded in front or "flipped" so they wouldn't touch each other. My guy had his in his pockets but he talked to no one. I didn't want to stand in the kid's line so I went to the other side of the hall to stand and he came over and stood next to me. We were escourted in by the teacher who was expecting an aide. There were probably around 15 to 20 kids on the "carpet". He sat in the back and did try to get more involved by raising his hand to answer the questions for the group. I think he was called on once. There were having a lesson on the letter H and the vowel "short i" . The teacher had a poem for them to read along with her as she pointed and then she asked for replacement words/ideas. She then sent them to desks, not their own, to cut up 10 printed consonants and the one vowel "i" in paper squares. They were to arrange them spelling out words she told them. My boy didn't have a clue. I used a little pen light I had brought to focus his attention on the letters and sound them out. He liked the pen light and wanted to turn it off and on to use it. I tried to connect the light to the sounds the letters said and then blend them into words by the way we focused the light. He got the hang of it but wasn't familiar with going left to right in that blending.
They then went back and sang a song about the classroom to "London Bridges" and she had pictures and bigger sight words of three subjects or nouns in the song. They were then told to go back and print the bigger word they chose at the top of the blank sheet of paper and draw a picture of it below. He chose "school" but couldn't write the letters. We picked them out from the guide on the desk with pen light and helped him form them in order, left to right on the page top. He was able to do the two "o's". He then started to draw the students, stick bodies, of the "school". I asked about the building and drew the roof and walls for him. He filled in the window and door when asked where they would be. We then asked for trees, bushes. He woudn't try a car so made one with the eraser and drew him in it. He like that. He then went over to a special table to color it in. I followed. I suggested another song to the teacher to the tune of Row your boat. She asked me to write down the words. I did and in Spanish too. We then escourted the boy, alone, back to his regular class and he showed his work to his teacher and was proud of it. They were all exercising. So I gave him the pen light and told him I'd see him next week.
I went back to the office to sign out and the principal was there again. She said there was another kindergarten teacher wanting me to help her. How long can you stay? I hesitated. I was done today. I told her what I did. and said I'd see her next week. I left. I took a picture of the front name of the school but I can't get it to down load on to this blog. (help Trev)
My main impression so far is the amount of time and attention given to "proper behavior" being quiet, walking in lines and lining up straight. It is all done in a very positive, reminding way. I guess a group of the boys who hadn't been able to "behave" at recess out on the playground last week several times so they were going to spend recess "in the class" this week...using the classroom as a "punishment" place. I wasn't there long enough to get any "deeper" impressions at this time. I will do my best to help kids and teachers the way I was helped so many times when I taught. Bob