One Sunflower

my summer work(shop)

on June 25, 2011

I’ve worked at summer school in a variety of ways for the past five years but I’ve always felt like I was “teacher-support” instead of a primary instructor.  This summer will be different.

We invited every single student from the kindergarten to 4th grade to participate in summer school. Out of 200 possible attendees, we have 42.  This means we have a complete mix of skills among the students.  We also decided to try something new by inviting 5th graders to apply to work as teacher’s aides in the program.  Seven students applied, three of them are kids with special needs, mostly learning disabilities.

Our principal formally interviewed each of them asking why they applied to help out, what assets they felt they had to offer and what goals they would like to set for themselves.  Their answers are inspirational: “I really want to teach the little kids because someday I want to go to college to be a teacher.” (This is a district where not many students come from college educated families or go on to college.)  “I want a job.   I’m a good worker; I’m cheerful and will do anything you ask me to do.”

I will be one of four teachers working at summer school.  We have a large group of students that are recent grads of 1st and 2nd grade, a smaller number of 3rd and 4th graders that will be grouped together and I will be working with 15 kindergarteners – or new first graders.  I’m nervous and am reviewing all my readers/writers workshop materials and have talked to the first grade teachers about what sorts of pre-teaching experiences would be good to provide.

The bottom-line is that our sessions are pretty short – we meet for four days a week for four weeks and only 3 hours a day.  The other teachers and I will be providing some extra-curricular activities as well such as music, art, reader’s theater and puppetry.  Our goals are to maintain skills and stamina, boost oral language and have fun, of course!

Tie-dye t-shirts have become a tradition for our summer school experience; I’ve chosen 4 colors for each of the classes and this year I also bought purple, the school color, for our special 5th grade helpers.  It all starts in three weeks, I’ve got a lot more planning to do to be ready.

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