Today was a good day. 

I was pretty tired after this weekend. I wasn’t ready to start the week when I arrived at school at 7:45 this morning. I am worried about getting enough time with my focus list students. Scheduling has proved difficult, and my students fickle. I am still learning how to navigate both those things.

Music Monday got me in a good mood for the day. I danced with my fellow corps members as we greeted the students. I walked into school at 8:30 feeling happy, but still not totally ready to start the day.

When I walked in to first period, my most difficult class, one of my students showed me some of the drawings he worked on over the weekend. He plans to enter them in the City Year contest to become a mural on our MLK day of service. He lost the instruction sheet (6th graders...), but it was invigorating to see how excited he still was about the project, even after the weekend.

“Ms., can you take me out this period?” Noticing my arrival, another student wanted to connect with me. I am his behavior and attendance coach, meaning I don’t remove him from any of his classes. I asked him what he was having trouble with. He was not feeling this Monday (who is?), but he also shared that he suffers from anxiety. We talked about what was making him anxious. We took some deep breaths. I told him I would check in with him later.

In class today we worked on the differences between expository and narrative. I worked on this with a student who broke the arm he writes with over the weekend. He read everything to me, and told me exactly where to write it so he could still have notes to look over later.

Second period I was in my classroom for the same lesson supporting my students as they understood the differences. I told a student to think of a “little person” she has in her life who likes to create stories. Then, narrative clicked. 

After lunch, I regrouped with my Impact Manager, collaborated with my math corps member counterpart, and took a general organization/answering emails break. This down(ish) time is a hot commodity.

But the magic happened in 5th period. Gearing myself up to work with the emotionally inconstant student, I took him out of our fifth period ELA class. I went over the differences between expository and narrative. He told me about the time his cousin said he saw a rat that was as big as a raccoon. And the time his cousin told him he got “stinged by a stingray.” When we were finished, I started pulling books off the shelves in the library. I had the student look at it while doing a “think aloud.” He had to tell me what he was looking at, and determine whether the book was an example of expository or narrative writing. I am an admittedly frantic person, and in my excitement for every one he got right, I would do a little dance while he sat in his chair laughing at me. Since I kept giving him harder things to examine, the dances kept getting more elaborate. When I gave him a National Geographic, he was confused. Most of the pictures and articles were about things he didn’t think were actually real. When he got to a page about ocean life, he got confused. He turned back and read captions of pictures he had previously written off as fiction. When he said expository, I did a somersault.

Through the rest of the day I checked in with my attendance coachees (it’s Monday!!), checked back in with that student from first period (the rest of his day had gone better, but he was still having trouble and decided on his own to refer himself to the counselor), and did the Expository vs. Narrative lesson one more time. During our after school program (Awesome Hydras) (#ballin), two of my focus list students came. Today was the first time they have come to our program, and I was really happy to see them. I got to tutor, spend more time and laugh with them. I don’t have all the answers on how to be a MVP Corps Member (MVPCM) (TM), but I know spending time with my students is what keeps me grounded throughout my service.

Blog post written by: 
Jordan Weinstein, Diplomas Now AmeriCorps Member, Rhodes Middle School Team

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