4:30 am – 5:30 am
These days I am the exception to the “wake up after 5:00 am” rule. My alarms never go off after 4:45. After I wake, I use 45 minutes to take care of my morning rituals and an extra 5 to 10 minutes for prayer.
5:30 am – 6:30 am
“Finding the right scale for a graph is like finding the perfect dress for prom,” I told a student during plotting graphs instruction. This period involves some combinatorial skills. For example, knowing the number of pants, shirts, briefs, under shirts and pair of socks I have and accounting for combinations worn, I pick out the best attire for the day. I leave home around 6:10 am with the best company (gospel rap and red bull) I could ever ask for during my 10 minute walk to work.
6:30 am – 7:55 am
I settle in by 6:35 am. At this time, I have to figure out where I want to work taking into account my environment and the productivity level around me. I flip a coin in my head and it’s either room 505 Mr. Gibbs room since I am his TA for 8th grade or the 3rd floor common space (3rd floor has been winning the toss lately). I check in with Mr. Gibbs if need be then I catch up on incomplete work from the previous day and prepare for tutorials and secondary duties.
8:03 am – 8:58 am
I wish I could sit in on Mr. Gibbs 1st class with Purdue University but that is justified by the saying “if horses were wishes, beggars would ride” so on that Ms. Wright takes care of the class while I do an awesome job with my two six graders. At the beginning of the year, I only had one-6th grader, he was my joy and sunshine; clay I was going to mold but due to forces beyond our control, we parted ways. I have two new students since then. Two students on opposite sides of the spectrum, which makes my work very challenging but I come around every time to accomplish what needs to be done.I love my first tutorial not because it is a math tutorial but because it is the first time of the day I get to interact with my sixth graders.
9:01 am – 10:54 am
Oh yeah, this might seem like a long break but believe me it passes faster than the best NASCAR driver. One of my duties as a TA is to check for homework completion. I grab submitted homework from designated bins. Sometimes homework falls in different bins and if not found, woe betide me to enter incorrect data.
Alongside the homework check come meetings, secondary tasks, TTC’s and PD. I check-in with Mr. Gibbs about the packet for the day and class; sometimes I sit in his class with William Patterson. I go over my tutorial packets and check-in with my elite male tutors until my eighth graders arrive for their math tutorial.
10:57 am – 11:52 am
All hail 8th grade tutorial. Yes! This tutorial I look forward to every day and I am not being biased, I am the 8th grade TA, I take 50% share in making the packets and I love doing that. It gives me joy to see my work on display and see my 3 eighth graders dive in it. I get to indulge in mathematical conversations with them; we dive deep into the topics and talk about how they apply to our lives in general. I enjoy the tutorial and their company very much.
11:55 am – 1:28 pm
I spend the first 30 minutes of this period in the big hall assisting with lunch transitions in and out. After that, I get to the third floor set lunch if I have any or sit and go over ELA packets. On the third floor with me are my fellow colleagues who don’t have any 7th grade students, we make fun of each other, go over packets together and indulge in a higher level intellectual conversations. At this time, I would be finishing my third or fourth red bull depending on how tired I am.
1:31 pm – 3:24 pm
First hour of this period is 6th grade ELA tutorial. ELA has always been a challenge for me so I pay very close attention to this tutorial and the next in order to execute my instructions perfectly for the students. Depending on the skill we work on that day, I share a personal story; they love to hear my stories especially those from my younger days in Ghana, West Africa.
My 6th graders are not very conversational but my 8th graders OMG! They cannot stop once the start. During exit ticket for 6th grade, I descend to the realm of 4th floor room 411 where Purdue University students have just finished science. I transition them with Ms. Hurtt to the big hall for ELA tutorial. It becomes chaotic in the hallway when we intersect with other groups but we hold it down. 8th grade ELA is fun because my students like to talk – talk about the information in the packet and personal stories that are in line with it. At the end, I transition Purdue students from big hall to their homeroom.
3:30 pm – 4:25 pm
This is the last period, and I use it to reminisce the good times all day and reflect on the day. I try to make plans for the next day too. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday I make the answer key for 8th grade math homework for Power-Up then I get ready for Power Up.
4:30 pm – 5:30 pm
The last hour! Power-Up is for homework. I help my students to complete their homework; if that does not happen they finish at home. This is smooth sailing for me.
After Power-Up, I am done; I finish some work and set on home. My day goes pretty well and the urge to see my students again is what drives me to be awake by 4:30 am. The year has been a great experience so far, I am glad I did this because it has given more than I asked for. Thank You G.O.!!!
Sam Kankam is a 2013-2014 member of the Great Oaks Tutor Corps Urban Education Fellowship in Newark, NJ. He is originally from Ghana, West Africa by way of Columbus, Ohio and is a graduate of the Ohio State University with a bachelors degree in Mathematics. Mr. Kankam aspires to become a math teacher.