During my daily service at school in Western North Carolina, I assist in 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades. I conduct one-on-one academic assistance sessions within the classroom and help the teachers manage behavioral problems that arise.
While I was focusing on mentoring the children with behavioral problems, I did not realize that many children were behind on their math abilities in my 4th grade class. One child in particular, “Nate”, the first kid to give me a hug on my first day and who sometimes keeps to himself, needed more one-on-one help with math. During class, I began sitting with him to check his work and help him understand the questions better. I realized he was much further behind than we thought and did not always appreciate me getting him to rethink the problems. I thought the little bit extra of tutoring and assistance was going to quickly turn his math abilities around—but I was mistaken. What Nate needed was consistent tutoring—for the rest of the year possibly. Every time I tried to explain a new concept to him, he would get frustrated and shut down. We learned a few days after I started working with him that the main problem was that he had not been taught the math everyone else had learned in 3rd grade at his previous school. I was trying to get him use concepts I thought he had already learned. I decided to break these methods down even further and found that he was more open to them now. Nate opened up more to me as well to tell him how much trouble he was having making friends in his class, which is part of the reason he gets easily frustrated with his work.
Now that he can talk to me about what he is having trouble with, he does not get as frustrated as he used to and is also improving in his math abilities. Nate even looks forward to working with me one-one-one now! Although we still have a lot of work to do to catch him up to his classmates, I have seen so much improvement in his math skills and attitude now that I’ve been taking it a bit slower. He has been making many more friends in the class, too.
I’m looking forward to working with him for the rest of the year!