A Day in the Life of Kayla Armando, Member of the Great Oaks Tutor Corps




My alarm goes off, and it’s time to start the day! Personally, I enjoy waking up on the early side, so that I can run through my morning routine without feeling rushed.

6:05AM- 6:45AM

Off to the big city! While I only live across the bridge, I often find myself referring to Manhattan as “going into the city.” I start my journey from the tutor house while the streets of Brooklyn are relatively quiet. With Spring here, and Summer fast approaching, I can now make this journey to the J train while the sun is rising. With the warm weather, I have also realized that if I leave a little early I can grab an iced coffee, and still get to school on time for my landing.


Today, I have a landing. Being a morning person, I do not find it difficult at all to get to my landings during the week. I often find myself waking up at the same time everyday, whether I have a landing or not. Sometimes on my landing I bring my laptop, and find myself being SUPER productive. It is hard to procrastinate, or go on Facebook, when you are constantly being monitored by the students you are monitoring on the stairs. Recently I’ve used this time to do some “light” reading, of 1491, as I monitor the students. This allows me to relax a bit before the day begins.


As a co-teacher for writing class, I spend AM advisory checking over students writing homework. I like spending AM advisory go around to each one as it allows me to see each, and every student in the morning. Usually I use the same red “complete” stamp, but today I decided to use my green highlighter to make a star on completed assignments. It seems like our sixth graders like stars much more than “complete” stamps!


It seems like it so much has happened already. First period, I tutor two intelligent, yet quiet young ladies. They both like reading fiction, including graphic novels. They are always pushing themselves to give one hundred percent, and I’m always pushing them to do even more during our ELA tutorial. During the next few weeks we will be reading a graphic novel, Persepolis. This unit has allowed us to explore, both the story, and film, as well as many outside non-fiction pieces that go along with the events of the story. This book has allowed me to introduce to my students the variety we can find in literature. Persepolis may be a graphic novel, but many of the themes, and events in the book has allowed them to learn more about the Vietnam War, the US and Containment, and the Islamic Revolution. Being a history fan myself, it has been a great way for me to incorporate historical events into a fiction text, and share that new information with my students.

9:00AM-10:45 AM

Next, I go across the hallway to Ms. Smith’s room. This is where I co-teach two periods of writing. My responsibilities in these classes is primarily to circulate the room, and make sure each student is focused on the task at hand. During pair, group, and independent practice Ms. Smith and myself circulate to answer any questions our students may have. I have enjoyed co-teaching with Ms. Smith because it has allowed me to interact with our students outside of a tutorial setting, and help them in a larger setting. Not only that, but Ms. Smith has also helped me review, and improve, my grammar!

10:50AM- 11:40AM

After class, but before lunch, I have a prep period. I use this time to create the ELA packets for our tutorial, gather materials for my afternoon math tutorials, or print out materials for Art Club. This time during my day allows me to catch up on anything that needs to get done, or get ahead on my work. My prep is also the time where I would sneak in a pick-me-up coffee from the Keurig, or have my first coffee of the day, if my travel schedule has not allowed for it before school. Eventually the doors open, and I am joined by all the other tutors in the work room- seems like it is time for lunch!


Lunch time gives us all a time to take a quicker breather. I try to bring my lunch as often as possible to maximize the time. Lunch is great because it allows us to catch up tutors from other tutorial rooms, or any last minute work. Lunch is the time where I get to interact with adults for a half an hour, and share some laughs about the morning, or the day before. Before you know it, it’s 12:15, and you hear the stampede of footsteps coming up the stairs. The students have returned from lunch, and it’s time to head up to literature class.


After lunch I make my way back upstairs to Ms. Nleya’s literature class. I enjoy co-teaching literature because it seems like we are always doing something different. From vocabulary, non-fiction, to poetry, everyday I feel like we get to do something new with our students. This group of students is one of our larger cohorts, but they are also very strong-willed. Many times our students pick an answer, and stick with it, even if their classmates claim differently. They’ve been known to debate over a Do Now answer for twenty minutes.


After class it is time to begin the homestretch, of tutorial. Each afternoon I tutor six students in math. Right after literature I have a one-on-one with a determined, and knowledgeable students, who sometimes makes silly mistakes. But don’t worry we are working on that! Planning for this tutorial is always simplest as I am adjusting the lesson to fit whatever this one student needs. Next up I tutor three very energetic boys. I’m pretty sure they would talk for the entire fifty minutes if I allowed it. We are working on realizing that if they stay focused, they can accomplish a lot. Some of my planning for this period involves figuring out new and different ways to present mathematical strategies. During our expression unit it was very helpful for this group to place different variables into different colored rings, and then translating that concept to simplifying expressions. My final tutorial of the day is always the most interesting. Both my students, and I have been up for hours now. Sometimes they come in ready to go, and other times, it takes a bit of work to get going. This group likes doing a combination of paper work, and computer to gain strength in their math work. Overall my afternoons seem like my busiest, but often go by faster than any other part of my day!


Now that tradition classes are over, most students, tutors, and teachers head to PM advisory. Monday thru Thursday I head downstairs to Ms. Schaefer’s room to help her with interventions. Every other day a different interventions, with different groups of students happens. One intervention aids students in pronunciation, and the other in foundational math skills. Ms. Schaefer and I are tasked with the duty of helping our classes, and making this time as fun as possible! I prefer the pronunciation class because our students get to call out, as a class, the correct pronunciation of words, and parts of words. Sometimes it is a bit trickier for us to make foundational math skills as enjoyable! Students who are interventions also get entered into a special group, called “Lunch Bunch.” Every Thursday, during lunch, the students who have won the raffle for “Lunch Bunch” get to skip the lunch line, come upstairs, and play games, or watch movies in Ms. Schaefer’s room. Around 4:40 it is time to let our students go home for the day.


Every Wednesday I have twelve students who participate in Art Club. I started this club to allow our students  a platform to be creative, collaborative, and artistic. Throughout this semester they have designed leaves for our Spring tree, decorated for the school-wide Talent Show, and designed a spring bulletin board. Currently my students are working on their own unique comic book characters, and plots. My hope is for them to complete unique comic books by the end of the year. And just like that, it is 6:00. Time to dismiss the club, head back to Brooklyn, and hope all my materials are graded, and ready for Thursday!

Ms. Armando is a 2013-2014 member of the Great Oaks Tutor Corp in Manhattan. She is from Glastonbury, CT, and a graduate from the University of Connecticut with a degree in History and Political Science. She also completed her Master’s degree in Middle School Education from the University of Bridgeport this past December. After her service year at GO-NYC, Ms. Armando aspires to teach Middle School Social Studies.

For more information or to apply to or Tutor Corps Urban Education Fellowship, please visit www.greatoakscharter.org.