Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Service Learning

It takes a village to raise a child.  As often as we talk about the hours that teachers spend, but volunteers are also an integral component of healthly functioning of a school.  I wanted to celebrate the work of my student volunteers. Schools thrive on the volunteer work of students, especially at high school whether they are delivering schedules or shelving books.  My service learning students, however, provide a unique service at my school. Rather than take a class for no-credit or working in the office as clerical staff, they have elected to tutor reading and math students, working side by side with teachers in their classroom during the day. This past year was the fifth year that I have managed these students as an opportunity for them to earn credit and back to their school.

My colleague calls them "Lit Leaders" and she takes as many as she can get in a class. In her class, you will often find them reading to students in small groups or one-on-one, while others help manage the reading centers. You might see them sitting by a student in a math class as a designated tutor for a specific student or circulating among the students during practice time.

Some students enjoy the work so much that they take the course for two periods or take it on a second year. Last year two seniors opted-in for two periods to help out with math classes. Many of the students who joined this past year were students who had passed the FCAT or ACT mid-semester and this class provided an opportunity to help students just like them.

I've found the  best format is for students to work with a specific teacher and class daily.  They too develop relationships with "their students", relationships that matter. Alejandro was profoundly impacted by his work with one student who quite simply started coming to school more often.  In his second year as a "Lit Leader" he became instrumental in helping his teacher manage small groups while she worked with students during guided reading. Gabby discovered that the ELL student she was working with was brilliant in math and became his advocate with the teacher and guidance counselor to have him enrolled in upper level math classes. Tyronna is looking forward to hosting a chat and chew with her students outside of class to promote reading. 

This year I am using Remind101 and Google Forms to stay in virtual touch each week. I'm in the processing of connecting them to the just right teacher right now.  We're expanding our program with more students in math classes. As the year unfolds, I can't wait to see their impact on students and their ideas. 

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