19 February 2016

America Reads 2015-2016 Fourth Blog Post



ATTN: America Reads Tutors


Welcome to Spring Semester 2016….since this is posting on 2/19/16 that tells you how it is going for me.   How are you adjusting to your new school and life schedule? How do these changes affect your tutoring obligations at your school and the children you tutor?  Describe the life skills you are using to balance all of these changes? And why does Spring Semester always seem to go faster and be harder? 

41 comments:

  1. I have a full semester with some hard classes and its been busy trying to keep up on my homework. Its been great to have the America Reads Program that its so flexible with my hours. I've been going to the YMCA I love it! The little kids are cute and its been fun to help them. Even though I haven't been there long they know my name and are excited to see me. Its rewarding. There is a girl that struggles a with English and I've had fun helping her. We made a puzzle then I would point at objects on the puzzle and we would say them together. Its rewarding to work there. I would like a training a little more in dept on boundaries sometimes at recess a kid falls and grabs me crying is it ok to hug them? or what do I do?, Sometimes wants me to push them on the swings I want to know a little more specifically on the boundaries and what to do in those situations. Jenny Bravo

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    1. Hello Jenny, from what I know its fine to play with the children and to push them on the swings as long as its okay with you. When the children fall they try to feel that someone is there for them, so I believed its okay to give them a hug and if the situation its too bad tell the YMCA worker so they know what has happened with the child. What I have learned at this is place is that you should not be alone with the children at all times, a YMCA worker needs to be there with you, you can't take them to the restroom and neither help to serve food. a Tip that I can share with you is to always ask the YMCA workers if its okay for me to do any other thing that I'm not sure to do. I hope I was able to help you with your concerns. Have fun with the children they are fun to work with.

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    2. Jenny, whenever I worked for YMCA I had the same questions. I wanted to play with the kids but scared I couldn't. But hugging them for comfort or just letting a child know they're okay is totally fine! But I totally agree with the person's comment above mine! Everyone at YMCA is so helpful and nice! I'm glad you're enjoying this and feeling rewarded after! Children are so loving and awesome! <3

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  2. I am adjusting to my new school and life schedule slowly, but well, I think. The school schedule has a few gaps, so it has been difficult to figure out where I have time for homework and tutoring; especially when the first few weeks were no longer seem an accurate reflection of how things are going now.
    These changes affect my tutoring obligations by not being certain of what I have time to do. They affect the children I tutor by having one less role model. Even though the phrase "one less role model" is easy enough to type, it seems like it could be viewed as dismal as any headline in the one reads in the newspaper that they do not like. I view it as such. On the flip-side, the YMCA always seems to have enough volunteers. Maybe it's because they just do because I'm there (ha ha), maybe they do when I'm there, maybe it's an illusion, and maybe they just do - but I always feel assured that I'm not leaving students unattended when I'm not able to be there.
    Describe the life skills you are using to balance all of these changes?
    The life skills I'm using to balance of these changes are patience, money management, my background in teaching, a passion for learning, a love for writing, and every last time management skill I can think to remember. I've always really liked the phrase "cultivating balance" (or patience, or happiness) since reading about it in the book "Spontaneous Happiness" by A. Weil. Applying this to different situations has helped me feel like my life is more organized, even in those moments when it is not. Having some confidence in observing who is in the right, when, and why has helped, too.
    I think spring semester goes faster because we're ready for winter to be over (whether it be because the weather is getting warmer or staying colder, it doesn't seem to matter) and is harder because if a yearly glitch is going to happen, it seems more likely to happen around the new year. This would cause a lot of undue stress to contribute to a harder year if it were the case.
    Nathan Nish

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    2. What is "Spontaneous Happiness" about? I recently read A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and it has become another mechanism for me to deal with stress and is teaching me how to be happy. It has taught me to live in the present and be happy with what is going on right now instead of thinking about the past and worrying about the future. I'll have to google the book you mention.

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  3. I volunteer at the YMCA. I help with older kids ages 1-6. Is been great so far, the kids are so much fun to be around with. Some are a bit challenging to work with, for example, I read with a first grader, which was hard to get to read with her; she didn't want to read, I try to encourage to pick out a book to read, so yeah that my biggest weakness to read with them.

    Tracy Nguyen

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    1. Tracy, when I volunteered for YMCA I had the same issue! It's just hard having to motivate kids to do more homework after school. Usually kids are done with school whenever school ends. So it's a bit hard to get them on track and motivated! I usually try to bribe kids by saying; "if you do really good, we can play a game right after! Come on, only a few more!" That usually does the trick for me! hahaha

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    2. It can be hard sometimes to get a child to read. Something that I have found useful is finding out what they enjoy, and finding a book about that. I have found that makes them want to read.
      H.P.

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    3. Tracy, I agree it is hard get kids to read when they won't. Great ideas tutors! I love working with a student and being able to find a way to make learning/reading fun or of interest to them. It feels so good to be able to help them. One thing I have done with especially difficult kids is find out what they like and don't like about school/reading/etc. This seems to help them to be able to say how they are feeling and to know someone cares how they are doing. Usually, this opens the door to asking questions about the story and helping them with words they are not able to read.

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    4. I agree that is one super hard thing about tutoring. With the younger kids I let them pick out a book they want to read and then instead of reading the whole thing I let them flip to their favorite part. That way it keeps their attention the whole time. I also make deals so if they read a couple pages then we can color for a bit. Good luck, B.F.

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  4. Hello Tracy, I understand how hard is to get children to read specially when they have not interest reading. Sometimes children get encourage to read if you tell them that you will play a game after they read certain amount of pages or tell them if they read for number of times they will get a prize. Those are just some ideas to get them excited to read but you can come with other ideas too. I hope these tips will help you

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    1. Thanks Jennifer for your tip on getting children to read, I will try to get them to award them if they can amount of pages.

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  5. I started to volunteer at the YMCA this spring semester, so far its going good. I like to work early in the morning so that my schedule lets me work more time. I really like the flexibility the YMCA is providing us. The children are sometimes difficult but at the same time fun to work with. Once they know you they are more friendly and pay attention when I ask them to follow directions from the teacher. For me spring semester is not too bad since we have longer break during Christmas vacation. I come back to school with a bit more energy and enthusiasm of learning all the new topics. Since I can only work during the morning I'm not able to help the America reads program as I should, I would love to help children with the reading but because of other obligations that I have I can't help with the after school program. In order to adjust to my new class schedule I wake up really early in the morning to get my assignments done and I try to always be on time with the assignments, it is not easy but its doable.

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    1. I've found that the kids do a lot better when you build connections with them! I agree that they pay more attention when they start getting to know you. Great job with everything you are accomplishing! It's awesome that even though you don't get to read with them, you are still building those connections with them and helping them with the other things they do in YMCA's program!
      KW

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  6. I started to volunteer for Nibely again, and so far adjusting to my new schedule and life style has been awesome. It's always nice having to see smiling faces every morning. It's seriously such a great way to start your mornings!The only changes I am struggling with is knowing when I have time to go into the Student life office for school. I am part of Student Government, and having to find time to fit some hours for that can sometimes be hard. But I think I have found a way to fit that in! I learned that since I want to explore with elementary education. I need to be okay with sacrificing my own time. Which is so rewarding. The children are sometimes a little fussy, but these year I have had THE best kids. My students are always ready to read and are seriously always trying their best! I can already see improvement with some of my students. It's so heart warming knowing these kids are learning to believe in themselves! For me, spring semester always flys by too quickly! I think it's just because the weather is changing and it SO close to summer that I become too lazy and all I can think of is summer! That's my reasons why Spring semester is always the hardest! It's just close to being able to do nothing and not worry about grades! Gah, I'm ready for summer! But I have to constantly remember that in order to enjoy my summer, I need to work hard! haha

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    1. Are you thinking of becoming a teacher?! That is so great and something I have thought about myself or at least becoming like a teachers assistant part time (can we do that without some kind of education training?) because we all know how much our teachers need it. Nibley does have the best kids!

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    2. Karla, I am thinking about becoming a teacher! I think we can become a teachers assistant but I'm not sure how. Maybe talking to Amiee or to a teacher at Nibley! I actually think I will do that! Thanks for that idea!

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    3. Ana, I think that you would make a great teacher! Also maybe another in to becoming a teacher's assistance at Nibley would be applying to be a substitute teacher there too, like Aimee talked to us about.
      H.P.

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    4. I agree that I'm ready for summer! It's always great seeing the improvement of the kids we tutor, especially in their self-esteem! Keep up the hard work! Summer will be here sooner than we know it!
      KW

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  7. This semester is slightly different than in the past. For the first time ever I am not taking any evening classes! It is so much better and I don’t know why I waited until my last semester at SLCC to do my classes in the morning. Though I do find this semester to be one of the hardest. I go to class in the morning, usually go to Nibley right after then back to Redwood campus to work on ASB things, then I go home to do homework about 3:30- 4. My to-do list is so long every day that I sometimes think it is taking a toll on my sanity. Like this morning I started driving to Nibley instead of Redwood Campus, I am constantly forgetting things and losing things. I am trying to fit in homework whenever I can. Sometimes I’ll show up to Nibley and completely forget which student I am supposed to pick up first or next and sometimes even their names!! I am so glad I am taking a yoga class that is teaching me how to deal with frustrations and helping me push things out of mind for a period of time. So when it is time to pick up a student I put my homework and to do list aside for the next half hour to 40 minutes I am just with them and thinking of how best to help them.

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    1. I am doing the opposite of you for the first time ever I am taking night classes instead of daytime classes. Its crazy what a time difference does in your life. Time management is something that I struggle at times with too, it is good that you are finding ways to manage your time.
      H.P.

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    2. I totally agree with you! Day classes are much better! I understand what you mean about being scatterbrained, and overwhelmed with a lengthy to-do list. I feel like that most days out of the week. For me the key this semester has been to stay on task when I am doing homework, or tutoring. I'm trying hard not to let distractions get to me, that way I could put all of my effort in and get things accomplished quicker and more efficient. Then I think it's important to let yourself have a night off. Go to the movies, go to dinner, or just take a nap. Hopefully that helps. Good luck with the rest of your semester!
      RW

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  8. Well first of all I do not get to tutor anymore (darn), but I am enjoying being on the other side of making this program successful! I definitely have had to learn how to transition from tutoring to helping run the America Reads program by becoming lynne's assistant last semester! After having struggled with a math class and learning the ropes of the office, I made some changes for this semester, which are making my last semester before graduation way less stressful than it might otherwise be. I chose to reduce my classes to 9 credits (3/4 time) to give me a bit more flexibility. However, I still recognize the need for me to budget my time between classes, homework, working in the office, preparing to transfer to a University and all the demands of a mother of 4 boys. I have utilized moderation and balance in the things I have to do, so that I can successfully finish here at SLCC!
    What being the new AR assistant has done to my routine, is to give me more interaction with other tutors, Lynne and the opportunity to help improve the program to meet the needs of our tutors. Lynne is one person, and it is great to know I am helping to expand her reach and efforts. This means that my schools days are packed with classes and office hours, with a strict end time to go home and decompress. Then on my days off, I have time for homework and all my other responsibilities...which can be its own mess of crazy if I let it! This has given me a well-defined boundary so that I am not at risk of becoming overwhelmed, taking time away from personal life for school (or vice versa) and have the time scheduled to do what is part of my normal life routine. Otherwise, I would feel like i was burning the candle at both ends a lot and that is no way live or to help me feel that my goal of a teaching degree is doable.
    cls

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    1. You are doing a great job Chanel! I agree life is crazy! Thanks for all you do to make America Reads an even better program (if that's possible) to be apart of!
      KW

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  9. I am trying to adjust, but it has been hard so far due to the classes I am taking. The schedule is very broken and going back and forth is its own challenge to my sanity and life schedule. The main affect to my tutoring is the change in the amount of time I can spend doing it and the new location, so the time passes way too quickly. Life skills? I try my best and sometimes wonder how I am doing it all. Putting forth 100% of me is my default attitude toward anything I am not sure how to do. It has been stressful, but I do take time to relax in the car by doing breathing exercises or read in my spare time. Maybe working to not over-do it in other areas of my life, would be another way I am handling it all so far.
    f-h

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    1. I'm sorry this semester has been so rough! I'm kind of in the same situation. I shuttle back and forth between three different campuses, because of the way it worked out with professors this semester. So I understand the back and forth. I agree that time does pass very quickly! I tutor for two hours at a time usually, and it passes so fast! Keep it up, you're doing great work in the lives of the kids you tutor!
      RW

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    2. Hey F-H!
      I agree finding balance and having tools for destressing is a key component to being able to juggle everything as a student, parent, tutor, etc! I think you are doing great and admire your ability to keep working toward your goals, despite the obstacles you face.

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  10. My Spring semester to put it lightly is hectic, but enjoyable. I am so lucky that I was able to make it work this semester and get back to tutoring. Being able to go to Nibley Park Elementary and work with the students is rewarding and luckily my hectic semester has really not interfered with that. The quickness of the semester is what sucks, as it does go by fast and this is my last semester at SLCC, being apart of America Reads, and tutoring at Nibley, as I will graduate after this semester. That is the only thing that kind of stinks, but I am so glad that is the only thing.
    HP

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    1. Thanks for replying! I'm glad you've been able to find a balance this semester, and that it hasn't been too hectic for you. I think finding that balance between school, tutoring, and family responsibilities is sometimes hard to do. I agree this semester has gone by so quick! Don't blink, soon it'll be over. Congrats on graduation this semester!
      RW

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  11. This semester has definitely been a busy and stressful one! I have a very full school schedule with some harder classes. That has definitely been time consuming. But I have been able to find a nice balance, between tutoring and school (and all the other things I have going on). This semester is a little different in the fact that I have been tutoring exclusively at Redwood Elementary. Last semester I was able to tutor at YMCA and Redwood. In talking to the YMCA coordinator at the community center and at Redwood, we decided our efforts would be well appreciated and needed at Redwood! It's been so great to work with the kids! Having us there an extra day has helped boost up their reading levels, and we are already seeing success! I love being an America Reads tutor and making an impact in others' lives.
    Rachael Wilkin

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    1. First, I am so happy to have the the Wilkin's ladies in the America Reads program with me! I really relate to finding a place to be useful and see that my efforts are of real benefit to those I am serving. It makes it hard to leave, but really makes each day spent extremely rewarding. Great job and best wishes going forward.

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  12. This is my first semester as an America Reads tutor and I have been really enjoying it! This is also my first semester back to school after living in the British Isles for a while, so it has been taking some adjusting to get back into student life (and American life). I am tutoring with my two sisters at Redwood Elementary, and it has been a lot of fun to already see the progress the students have been making with their reading. Life can be kinda crazy with school and tutoring, and a ton of homework. However, it is very rewarding to have an impact on these young students lives! It makes it all worth it to see them improve and learn to love reading. This semester has been going very fast and it is a balancing act to get it all done, but it is a good challenge!
    Rikki Wilkin

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    1. Wow, the British Isles! You must have learned a lot there, and I'm sure there has been quite an adjustment period. I think that tutoring kids can really help in your own school life because you can learn a lot just from how different people learn and maybe become more aware of how you learn. Best of luck! B.F.

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  13. My new schedule is going swimmingly! I have a pretty fun semester, with classes I am really starting to enjoy. The changes of this semester means I have more time and more energy to put into America Reads. I have more time to find out what would be more beneficial for some of the kids, and more energy to actually build the connections with them. I have started to learn that building those connections is the most important thing to have them motivated to read, and have fun while doing so. I've become more aware of what the kids needs are and how I can best help them. This semester does seem to be going by fast! I think it will continue to get harder as it gets warmer outside. Hopefully it motivates us, instead of helping us procrastinate! Good luck to all of you in your endeavors of studying, and not getting distracted by daydreams of summer!
    Kassi Wilkin

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  14. After three weeks of tutoring at Esperanza Elementary School and having completed 12 hours of service, I am now much more comfortable and aware of my role as a person with the possibility of changing and positively impacting this kids lives. I have been working on the improvement of 3th to 6th grade students, in a very individualized dynamic that consist on 30 to 45 minutes with 2 kids at the time who have similar reading levels, either significantly or slightly above the expectation according to their age and grade. Esperanza Elementary, as a very valuable organization to the society, provides a multicultural environment and welcomes students of all backgrounds and ethnicities, which creates a more enriched and nourished scenario where the young generations not only grow up with bilingual skills and the advantages this offers, but most importantly, grow up being aware of the existence of cultural divergences and progressively develop an understanding, respect and acceptance of plurality.

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    1. I'm so glad to hear what your doing at Esperanza because I don't really know what tutors do there. It sounds like that school is really amazing. After working at the YMCA I'm more aware of cultural differences than I ever have been before. It's really enriched my own life and it's ignited a passion in me to learn more about other cultures and languages. B.F.

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  15. To be honest, some days I feel like my schedule is hanging by a thread when it comes to completing homework, taking care of my children, going to four classes twice a week for almost a full day, and then working at Nibley for five hours twice a week. Now these seems crazy, and sometimes it can be. But I have found a way to balance it all together, and taking things one day at a time, only focusing on the most important things first. So far, I have been able to do pretty well with it, and only having a few weeks at a time where I feel like it’s too much at one time. Which for me that’s pretty good.

    Tutoring these past four years, I have found systems that work, even with my busy schedules. Indeed, this semester is the most I have had in class load and working the same hours I have done previously. Yet, somehow, I have been able to still balance my tutoring schedule with each of my kids, making each session worthwhile. This has especially been the case since one of the kids I tutored this year moved away a few weeks ago, making it to where I have more open time at Nibley to prepare for the next kids, as well as get some homework in.

    Life skills I have been using to balance these changes have been I always give myself some me time after I put my kids to bed to “whine down.” Whether it’s I turn on a good show, or do homework while listening to music, or I work out in my living room. These activities have helped my stress level that I feel often times this semester, with it being my last. Another way I have found balance this semester is having a schedule/planner for work, classes, homework time, or appointments outside of school. This system has been helping so that I don’t overschedule my days, even if my weeks are filled completely.

    Since this is my last semester, I can agree it’s been my hardest to keep focus in classes lately. Doing homework, that’s been surprisingly the “easy” part; but staying focused in my classes, when I know the end is near—that’s been hard. Already, I have realized that this semester ends in less than nine weeks away, meaning that’s it’s been going extremely fast for me. Even though I am having a hard time staying focused. I guess that’s why they call it “Senior Ides” for a reason.

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  16. This spring semester feels particularly hectic for me since I have to divide my time between being a full-time student and two part-time jobs. As a photography major, I am required to spend hours in the lab to develop and make decent prints for my photographs, which is sometimes too overwhelming for a perfectionist, as I am, and time-consuming since I have to depend the open-lab hours to complete my assignments. That being said, I wish I could have more time to tutor at the YMCA. Recently, I have been asked to help with YMCA tutoring program at Plymouth Elementary School, which is a refreshing environment, and quite scenic view too. Working at Plymouth Elementary has given me more time to help children with spelling, reading, and even math (!!!). It was kinda awkward as a newcomer at first since I was meant to replace a YMCA teacher as she was assigned with other responsibilities. However, a long the way, I was "admitted" to the kids' circle, and was even asked to play basketball with them (I failed miserably and was terribly aware of how unfit I was). It is a shame that the program only takes place on Monday and Tuesday. There are approximately 15 kids, but the after-school program only lasts for 1.75 hours, which means not enough to help all of them with their homework and reading. I was often bombarded with 3 or more kids asking me to help them with their homework. And the allotted time frame we have is simply not enough.

    Sometimes I feel like I am too greedy in terms of my ambitions. Spreading myself too thin is apparently a good way to achieve more while my time fund is running less. Time management skill aside, I have to learn how to say no to certain responsibilities I put on myself, and had to discuss with my family to ask for more support. It was not an easy discussion but I got my points across. Now that they have a better understanding of the struggle I'm going through, it has been a lot easier for me to wade my way throughout the semester and have more time to tutor as I wish.

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  17. It seems to me that Spring semester is always harder because you take consecutive classes during the year. So for example, I'm in an upper level math class and Chinese class, versus in fall when those classes were lower and a little easier. I've found that because of my harder classes it's easier for me to go to the YMCA more days of the week for shorter amounts of time so that I can stay focused on them. However, my first year as a tutor that wasn't really the case. Really, it's all about what works for your schedule. Seeing the kids everyday really helps me stay motivated in my own classes. Seeing how hard they work and how smart they are really motivates me to try harder. It's so fun to see how excited they get when they can write their name or when I read a story they really like. They have so much joy with learning and it makes me want to bring that attitude back to my own learning because for a long time learning has been a burden. The kids really give me perspective and I hope that I'm able to teach them effectively and give back to them as well. B.F.

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  18. This semester has been difficult with me so far since my schedule has been full. It has changed the time I spend at the YMCA. I have managed to get some hours done during my free time and spending it on helping the children at the YMCA. A skill I have been using is by organizing everything on a calendar it has helped me so far.

    -Jess H.

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