I am back to being a substitute teacher this year. It continues to be a rewarding experience working with many students in many different classrooms.
When I am not subbing, I’m volunteering in classrooms at St. Michael’s School since November. I have been working with students in grades 2, 3/4 and 5/6, individually and in small groups providing them with extra support in ELA and Math. It has been great getting to know the students even more than when I have subbed for their teachers. I have been able to connect with them and form relationships.
The most rewarding moment so far for me and one of the students I worked with happened a few days ago. This is a student who is quiet, keeps to himself, is behind in reading and writing and benefits from small group/ individual instruction.
We were working one-on-one in the library on a book report type of project. He had just finished reading his book and ready to finish up some of the assignments. His teacher had asked me to read over his work and to edit it with him.
He began by telling me all about the book Superfudge by Judy Blume. Having never read the book, I learned about the plot, settings and characters. The student was eager to tell me about all that he read, and told me funny moments and his favourite moments in the book as well. It was great to see him excited and smiling. Then we started looking at his work so far. I read it over and offered him suggestions and he continued to work on the assignment. In the hour that we worked together, we accomplished a lot. He told his teacher when we finished what he had done, and showed her his work and she was impressed. It may not have been quiet up to grade 5 standards, but she was proud of him and his accomplishments. She had never seen him so proud of his work.
I worked with another student the following day and we ended up spending a few hours reading together. His teacher wanted us to finish reading his book together so that he could work on his assignment. We went to the library and found a spot to read. He would read a few pages, and I would read a few pages. We stopped and discussed what we were reading and I asked him questions a long the way. I mentioned to his teacher during a recess break that I felt bad when I was reading, because I didn’t want to show off or make him feel bad. He is a struggling reader, but she reminded me that I was modelling what a fluent reader was like and that I was reading with phrasing, articulation and expression, things he often did not do. We ended up finishing his book so that he could work on his assignment.
Working with these two boys, small groups in ELA and in math have been great not only for me, but for the students and for their teachers. I look forward to continuing this volunteer experience.