Let's start with the success first.
V is an average student. He has been working at grade level up to recently. He made a sudden drop in math when we started double digit subtraction with regrouping. He went from scores in the high 80's to scores in the 20's and 30's. He was just lost. I worked with him and he got it one on one but then could not perform on his own. On Tuesday morning I was mentally planning the phone call I was going to make to his family to ask for their help with him. That afternoon he surprised the heck out of me. We started an even more complicated task that day mixed addition and subtraction with and without regrouping. I started the class off and then made a beeline to his desk to get him going. By the time I had made it to his desk he had already completed 5 problems and they were all correct! I looked around him to see if he might have copied the answers but the kids next to him hadn't even done as many problems as he had. He then went on to finish the page and the rest were also correct. I asked him what had changed...how he had finally understood the concept. He told me that his mom kept looking at his math pages and said that they needed to do something so she went out, got a math book and worked with him at home. I told him to give his mom a big hug and kiss and thank her for helping him and he looked at me with the most serious face and nodded while telling me "I will Ms V.!" I wish all parents were as dedicated as V's.
Y is one of my older students. She is actually Sabi's age, fourth grade age, but she was put in school late and then retained. Y is interesting. She appears to be at least average but she really isn't. Verbally she is high. She is also very mature with regards to responsibility. Y is the second oldest in her family but she is the only girl. As the only girl she has assumed responsibility for caring for her first grade sibling as well as her 3 year old sibling at home. I have yet to meet the mom, despite numerous calls made by me to request a conference. (They live across the street from school)
Academically Y is on track in math but in language arts...ouch! Y can barely read first grade text. What she can read is not fluent not usually accurate. This week when Y was reading with me I just couldn't take it anymore and told Y that we have to do something about her reading difficulties and do it fast. I told her that I understood that she doesn't have anyone who will help her at home and that she has many responsibilities that await her once she is home. I told her that I wanted her to either come in before school or stay after school and work with me or my student teacher one on one so she can make that jump and catch up. Y nodded at me and said that she would do it but she was worried about her little brother, she is responsible for him after school. i told her to bring him over too. If it will allow her the time to learn, so be it. I also thought that I should just work with the little brother because he will be a second grader next year so I might as well get a jump start on working with him now!
Y has been on my mind all week. Why? I am so saddened about where she is academically. She is really quite a remarkable kid. I look forward to seeing her everyday. She is funny, sweet, responsible and she gets my jokes! I am also saddened about the fact that there is no adult at home who is willing to work with her or even cares about where she is academically. I can't understand why her mom hasn't come in to see me. Mom doesn't work and is available. There are always many cars in the driveway. When I have made calls home I have been given many excuses as to why mom couldn't come. The last time I called home a man answered and I was told that I had the wrong number and that I needed to stop calling. (I did hear mom in the background)
I am hopeful about my study sessions with Y. I know that she will be successful. I also know that she will be very grateful for the help and thank me for it. I am worried about her future though. Who will care for her and help her in the years to come?