Saturday, November 05, 2005

Success Story

Now that I have about three months under my belt, I actually feel that I do have some successed to share. In all honesty, those first couple of MTC classes this year were pretty depressing because I felt as though I didn't have time to be successful and therefore I didn't have a success story to share. I've come a long way since then...I think. At least now I don't feel as though I need to have an entire class on the edge of their seats begging me to divulge more information on Dalton's atomic theory in order to be successful. I look for the little things and hope for the big things, and every once and awhile my hopes become reality and I feel that I have truly made leaps and bounds with a student or even dare I say, a group of students. But really, I consider myself successful if I can simply keep my students focused on a lesson for at least 30 minutes. If I focus on the small successes, I find that it's easier to keep my sanity.

However, because this blog is supposed to be on successes and it's coming at the end of the class, maybe I should write something a bit more substantial, and for that, I have the perfect success. Throughout the first few weeks of school students were failing my class miserably. I think the average on the first chapter test was in the sixties. The second chapter test wasn't much better. I have some students in my classes that work very hard. They do their homework and pay attention in class. Some of them even take notes without being told to write something down. Of course, these students did quite well on both tests. None of these students seem particularly intelligent, they just work hard. Then there are the students who work a little bit here and there and scrape by with C's and D's. This is the student population that pulls me out of bed in the morning. I have some hope for these kids because at least they put forth some type of effort. They possess a small spark of desire to get something out of my class and it is my job to turn that spark into a wild fire. I decided that many of these students would benefit more from individualized instruction.

My solution, after school tutoring. On Wednesdays I hold a tutoring session after school for one hour. This is an opportunity for students to get some one-on-one instruction with yours truly. So I spread the word across my classes and even called some parents. Guess how many students showed up for the first session. One! I'm sure you're thinking, "Well, that's someone that you're helping. It's better than no body." Well, when he came in and saw there was no one there, he bolted out of the room saying that he forgot he was on the football team and he had practice.

So, the next week, I called even more parents and told them to send their children to after school tutoring. I put up signs on my white board advertising the event. I did everything short of getting on my knees and begging my students to come to tutoring. The second week, I had about 3 people show up. When only 3 people came I have to admit, I was disappointed. However, I knew that if I ever wanted students to show up at my tutorial, I had to make it fun. So we spent the fist 30 minutes reviewing lessons and doing practice worksheets. I could tell that the students were understanding the subject matter which definitely is the goal of tutoring. Unfortunately, they were also looking pretty bored. So I spent the last 30 minutes playing a game in which they could earn tickets (part of a classroom reward system). They thought the game was so much fun that it may have been worth it to come to tutorial after all.

Word spread quickly and over the next couple of weeks, the number of students in my tutorial soared to about 20 each week. It became the "cool place to be on Wednesday afternoons." As if that isn't a success in and of itself, many of my students who religiously come to my tutorial have had their grades increase from low F's to A's. It is these moments that makes teaching so much fun.