Saturday, July 08, 2006

you know you're a teacher when...

still out at the summer camp. between the kids and the waitressing, i'm staying ungodly busy. but i like it that way.

out at camp the past two weeks i've had the 11/12's. they're an odd bunch...such a strange age. i might blog more about that later...

but i have this one little boy in my group. he is quite possibly the most obnoxious kid i've ever met in my life...most of the time. but there are times when he chills out, and he's a cool little kid.
anyways, the other day we took the kids fishing. as we're walking down the street, he asks my co-counselor, "what's that sign say?" she told him to read it. he attempted to sound it out, but failed miserably. so, she told him, "it says 'area'".
she told me about this, so i started asking him questions, pointing at things to see if he could read them, asking his alphabet, etc. i gave him a sheet of paper and asked him to write down his alphabet. i got "A, B, C, F, E, D..." at that point i started coaching him through it. he'd sing the alphabet song until he got to the letter he needed, then he'd write it down and start all over again.
we got to "K", and i asked him what comes after it. he thinks, sings the song, then says, "LEMONEN-O....O is next." i asked him what all that stuff before "O" was, and he told me it was just part of the song.

so, i've been looking for books and worksheets to give to him to teach him at least some basic reading skills. he's going into sixth grade and doesn't even know his alphabet. and he knows he's behind. he's really embarassed by it.

i was talking to another counselor who's going to school to become an elementary school teacher, and he said something along the lines of, "we've failed this kid."
i don't agree though. i don't think "we've" failed him yet. public education has failed him thus far. and i think it's a combination of his home life (which has been very jumbled, with him being moved from family member to family member), his hyperactivity and his teachers. from comments he's made they simply didn't want to deal with him, so they continued to pass him despite his reading ability (or lack thereof).

but he can still be saved. he's only 11 years old. it's not like he's 16 and ready to drop out of high school. his grandparents are working with him on his reading at home, and i've been trying to help him out at camp. hopefully this won't be chalked up on the "kill" side of public ed.

p.s. i wanted to go deeper into this, but i'm supposed to be getting ready to get to work (camp).


40 said...

The shame is that it sometimes takes getting to know kids personally before we can really help them. Far too many teachers don't get to that level with their kids.

A student like the one you are mentioning in the post probably needs someone to care before he will be able to succeed. Way to go in helping him in any way you can.

Dennis Fermoyle said...

I generally don't buy the idea that when a student fails, the teacher (or school) has failed, but this one is hard to justify. I don't want to jump on any bandwagon, and start attacking his school and former teachers, because I really don't know what the situation is, but I will say this: If this kid can't read, and doesn't really even know his alphabet, and yet he's about to enter the sixth grade, somebody's got some explaining to do. And if whoever is responsible for this doesn't have a good explanation, I would like them to know that this type of thing puts egg on all our faces.

Ms. H said...

YAY AT!!!! Way to ferret out the true problem that's causing the squirrelly behavior! Good job!

the anonymous teacher said...

I think in this case the school system has failed this little boy. To be going into sixth grade and not even know his alphabet...I can't even fathom what would possess his teachers to continue to pass him. It just kills me.

M said...

that is so sad :( I really feel for him, and I can understand that he probably has some coping strategies in place that mask some of his inadequacies within a large class. But it still doesn't excuse that whole "letting him slip through the system" thing that seems to happen all too often.

It's most probably a combo of teacher not being able to get to cater to all learning levels in their classroom, parents not working with child at home, kid not being motivated/or not wanting to feel like a loser by asking for help and the system which tries hard not to fail kids.

I've had a couple of kids that I recommend stay down that has either been *strongly suggested I don't keep them down* by the prin OR that the parents flat out refuse to let their child stay down (parents here have final say). I've done a lot of "extra" work and "homework" for struggling children but most of the time it doesn't get done. It's frustrating that kids just slip through

Ben McFerren said...


We started a free site called teachade for teachers and I was wondering if you'd take a look to see what you think. Basically we're looking to build a community of teachers to support each other through professional development and resource exchange. We're looking for your input and suggestions on how to improve the site. Hope to see you join us and participate.