5:30 – 6:35 AM:
The sun is still down, but it’s time for me to get up and get ready for work! Typically, my roommate and I have a “battle of the snooze button” until one of us cracks, gets up, and starts getting ready. Time for another day at Great Oaks!
6:40 – 7:15 AM:
After an hour of getting dressed up in my best business casual attire and eating some breakfast, it’s time to walk over to the school. Ten minutes later and I’m at the school and getting situated. On a regular day, there are always the smiling faces of my fellow Tutor Corps members to brighten the morning. On an especially great day, there’s hot chocolate, coffee and Munchkins (donut holes) out to help make the day that much better!
7:20 – 7:55 AM:
One morning a week, I head over to one of our ELA teachers’ classroom for “Reading Pearls.” This is Great Oaks’ own version of Oprah’s book club! Myself and 8 other women from around the school, including teachers, tutors and leadership team members, come together with 30 girls from all grade levels to read and really dig into books. Right now we’re reading and discussing The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. We’ve already had some deep conversations about self-image and bullying that gave us all insight into how our girls really think and feel.
8:03 – 8:57 AM:
Now it’s time for my first tutorial of the day, 6th grade Math. I have three lovely 6th graders, two who love math and one who struggles with it a bit more. One of the biggest challenges I face in this tutorial is balancing my attention among all three of my students. On days with especially challenging material, I sometimes have one of my students, who understands the material, help another student while I work with my third student who needs the most help. In this role, things are constantly changing so as a tutor I have to think on my feet andadjust to whatever is happening very quickly!
9:00 – 9:55 AM:
During this period I have my secondary duty as a teacher of an Exploratory Course (EC). We all have secondary positions to help enhance our time here at Great Oaks and to give us a chance to gain experience outside of the tutorial environment. The main reason why I chose to teach an EC class is because I wanted to be able to build relationships with as many students as possible. It’s crazy how much of a difference having a relationship with a student can have on your ability to impact them. Aside from helping to build relationships, EC courses give tutors a chance to teach a class on a topic they’re really interested in and expose students to exciting lessons outside of their regular curriculum.
My EC class for first trimester is “Introduction to Creative Writing.” Right now I’m teaching my class of 8th graders about Spoken Word and having them write spoken word poetry about issues they are really passionate about. My class really surprised me with the depth of their poems. Some topics they wrote about included hunger, poverty, and life in Newark. It was great to hear students give their opinions on serious issues in the world. My secondary duty is definitely one the highlights of my day!
10:00 – 10:57 AM:
Planning Period! Usually I spend this time preparing materials for my next tutorial of the day while listening to music. This time always serves as a good time to unwind after a busy morning.
11:00 – 11:57 AM:
Next I head to math tutorial with my 8th graders. I have two 8th graders who struggle to keep up with the math material so my job in tutorial is especially important to help them stay on track with everything in class. They’re really goofy kids so I try to make tutorial fun when I can, but making sure they are grasping the material comes first.
12:00 – 1:27 PM:
After a jam-packed morning, I eat lunch and unwind a bit more. Towards the end of this period I work on planning out my last two tutorials of the day. I’m typically making supplemental materials and getting everything together for any extra activities I have planned out for that day.
1:30 – 3:27 PM:
During this time I have 2 tutorials back-to-back, 6th grade and 8th grade ELA tutorials. Most of my students aren’t very fond of ELA so I have to really be thoughtful when planning out tutorials for these sessions. My 6th graders especially love to draw so I often have them draw pictures making sure to incorporate details from the passages we’re reading. This encourages the students to read very closely and helps them visualize the stories.
3:30 – 4:22 PM:
This is our students’ last period of the day and the time when I’m in my second EC period of the day. In order to ensure that leading aclass does not overwhelm tutors, EC teachers are part of a small cohort with one to two other tutors. Each trimester a different tutor teaches his/her class while the other members of the cohort serve as classroom support. During this trimester, the other tutor in my cohort is teaching Conversational Spanish and Culture to the students. During this time, I usually find a free seat around the classroom and help students with their work and sentence formations. Sometimes, I have to issue discipline to students who are not meeting our expectations. I have learned from my Creative Writing class that it’s great to have an extra set of eyes in the classroom to help out with classroom management!
4:30 – 5:30 PM:
After school, some of our students stay for a program called Power-Up. This is for students who need extra help grasping the concepts they’ve learned that day and completing their homework. As a Power-Up tutor, I work with three students (different students from those I have during the day) and make sure they understand everything before they go home. This is a great time for tutors to build relationships with different students and for students to receive help from someone who may have a different teaching style than their regular tutor.
Johnel Trammell is a 2013-2014 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter School in Newark. She is a graduate of the University of Virginia with a degree in Sociology and African American Studies. After her service year at Great Oaks, Ms. Trammell plans to continue working in education and serving the neediest students. Ms. Trammell’s ultimate career goal is to charter her own public boarding school for at-risk, urban students.
For more information or to apply to our Tutor Corps Urban Education Fellowship, please visit: www.greatoakscharter.org.
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