My alarm goes off, and I jump out of bed. Generally, I am not the person who snoozes their alarm for a few minutes; I prefer to get out of bed as soon as I hear the alarm sound. Then I turn on the news while I begin to get ready for the day.
6:25 – 6:30 AM
I am out the door of the Courtyard Marriot Hotel with my banana and peanut butter in hand (my typical breakfast) as well as my materials for the day. The Marriot is our temporary home until the Teacher’s Village Apartments are completed.
I arrive at the Great Oaks Middle School, and depending on how early I am, I begin to organize my individual belongings. But 6:55 AM quickly approaches so I grab the 8th grade homework collection bin and head downstairs to the building lobby, to collect the 8th graders homework. This is an important task, because as I collect the homework I check to see that the students have attempted to complete the homework, and have included their names and date on the homework. If they have not written their names on the homework, or have not attempted to complete at least 75% of the homework the students know they will receive a homework detention that afternoon.
7:45 AM – 9:45 AM
This may seem like a long period to have without tutorials, however this time is crucial for my success in my secondary role as a Teacher’s Assistant to the 8th grade ELA Teacher, Ms. Marshall. During this time I record the 8th grade students’ ELA homework completion and grades into the Great Oaks Homework Collection computer system and PowerTeacher. This task usually takes about forty-five minutes to an hour. Then I continue to plan my tutorials for the week, and sometimes I begin to create the future 8th grade ELA tutorials. As an ELA Teacher’s Assistant it is my responsibility to create two of the four weekly tutorials for the entire corps. My fellow 8th grade ELA TA Derick Pagan creates the remaining two tutorials. This task of creating tutorials is of the utmost importance, and must align with what the students are doing in the classroom, so I take my time doing this.
9:45 AM – 9:50 AM
I transition several seventh grade students from their blended learning class, to our ELA tutorial that begins promptly at 9:50 AM. During transitions I make sure that students are acting professionally in the hallways and moving urgently from one period to the next.
9:50 AM – 10:46 AM
I work with two seventh grade students, who are extremely bright, on the 7th grade ELA tutorial for the day. In the recent days our tutorial has been centered around the novel The Outsiders, which I vividly remember reading in 7th grade, thus sharing opinions, thoughts, and perceptions of the books with the students has been extremely interesting, and rewarding. Seeing my students decipher the book is wonderful, and I really enjoy ELA discussions with my 7th grade students. They are so open to learning, and are recently picking up my love for annotating texts, which is awesome!
10:46 AM – 10:50 AM
Tutorial ends, and I transition several seventh grade students from tutorial to Social Studies class. Then immediately after I transition several 8th grade students from ELA class to tutorial. Yes, I am moving quickly to make sure both groups of students arrive on time for class so in the hallways we stress professionalism, and urgency. My transition groups are great; one group even refers to themselves as “Team Fancy” which always makes me smile.
10:50 AM – 11:46 AM
I have back-to-back tutorials, but now I meet with my two 8th grade students for the first time of the day. This tutorial is math, and this is one of my favorite tutorials of the day! It is my favorite because not only are the 8th grade scholars brilliant; their math skills are extremely advanced, but they are also so willing to help each other. When one student is struggling to understand a concept, the other immediately jumps in and shares their strategy with the other. The hardest part about this tutorial is keeping my students from making silly mistakes, therefore recently I have decided to utilize positive reinforcement; if my students do not make a certain amount of silly mistakes during the week – at the end of the week they will receive a special treat from me. Whether that be candy or something else, but my students and I share a love for sour patch watermelons (if you have not tried them I recommend you do) so that is a regular reward for their success.
11:46 – 11:50 AM
Another transition, another adventure in the hallways of Great Oaks, and usually all goes well.
11:50 AM – 12:25 PM
I quickly eat the school provided lunch with the other tutors in the staff room. My favorite lunch is definitely the tacos – chicken, beans, lettuce and cheese! Who doesn’t love a good Taco Tuesday?? During this time I am definitely quickly eating, but also enjoying a little down time, and double checking that I am prepared for my afternoon tutorials, as well as my secondary role as a TA.
12:30 – 2:25 PM
During these hours I am present in one of Ms. Marshall’s 8th grade ELA classes. I enjoy seeing the students learn from Ms. Marshall, and I do my best to answer their questions, and assist them in assigned work, while I circulate throughout the classroom. Eventually, I may be able to teach parts of the daily lesson, but because it is the beginning for now I support Ms. Marshall and learn from her effective teaching methods. The students are reading The Hobbit now, and focusing on Bilbo’s journey as a hero, this text is definitely challenging at times because of it’s density however it is so rewarding to see the students push themselves.
2:25 PM – 2:30 PM
I transition “Team Fancy” (a group of 8th grade scholars) from Science to our math ELA tutorial.
2:30 PM – 3:26 PM
The same two 8th grade students and I (from the morning) focus on ELA. Although these students claim not to enjoy ELA as much as they enjoy Math, they seem to enjoy tutorial! We often engage in discussions about relating the readings to our personal lives. Although, it may seem difficult to relate Bilbo Baggins of The Hobbit to two 8th graders, my students have found wonderful connections, and continue to analyze the story in a way that astounds me.
3:26 PM – 3:30 PM
Another, transition cluster “Team Fancy) moves from tutorial to Social Studies, and several seventh graders transition from Math to Math tutorial.
3:30 PM – 4:26 PM
This is the last tutorial of the day, and definitely one that I greatly look forward to. Not because it is the last tutorial of the day, but because the students are so engaged in the material and willing to learn. These students have become so good at the recent material that I have allowed them to race me in completing several problems throughout tutorial, and I have to admit sometimes they win! However, I always remind them that speed isn’t everything; it doesn’t matter if you finish the problem first if the answer is incorrect. Therefore you still must always show your work in order to avoid silly mistakes that could have otherwise been avoided.
4:26 – 4:30 PM
My final transition of several 7th grade students from tutorial back to their homeroom for dismissal.
4:30 PM – 5:30 PM
Although the school day is officially over, I usually stick around for a little to prepare and plan for the future. In the upcoming weeks PowerUp will begin. Once it begins on Mondays and Wednesdays, other tutors and I will provide students in PowerUp with additional tutoring services, on homework.
After all the students have left the building I head back to my temporary home, the hotel. At home, I work on homework assignments I have from the NYU Teacher’s Residency program. Yes, in addition to being a tutor, and TA, I am attending NYU. Great Oaks offers a wonderful Teacher’s residency program that works with our tutor program. On Saturday’s I attend class from 10 AM – 2 PM at NYU with 14 other Great Oaks tutors from both the Newark Great Oaks campus and NYC Great Oaks campus. At home, I also parent phone calls. This is an extremely important part of my job, keeping parents in the loop on their children’s’ successes and struggles at Great Oaks is essential, because the parents, students, teachers and I are working together as a team to achieve academic success for the students. Then I eat dinner, unwind with my roommate and co-workers at the hotel, and discuss our days. My roommate and I always have great discussions that bond us and bring closure to my days.
Thus far, I have only been at Great Oaks for a couple of months but I can already see my personal growth, and the growth of my scholars. I anticipate a challenging but extremely rewarding year, learning from the people around me and developing into the best educator I can be. As a TA and member of the NYU Teacher’s Residency I have already learned so many skills in teaching, culture conduct, and organization. I cannot wait to learn more. I value the opportunity to learn and observe a teacher, and experience teaching students in a small environment in tutorials. My experience creating tutorial plans, executing these plans, grading homeworks, and being an active support system in the classroom has increased my ability to be successful in the future as an educator. I am thankful for this opportunity, and look forward to learning and growing more.
Alison Feldman is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter Middle School in Newark. She is a graduate of Union College in Schenectady, New York with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English Literature and a minor in History. Currently she is a member of the NYU- Teacher’s Residency offered at Great Oaks working to achieve her masters in English Education. After completing her year of service at Great Oaks she plans to continue with NYU while, working as a middle school teacher in Newark (she has not decided at what school yet, maybe if the possibility arises she will continue to be at Great Oaks). Ms. Feldman plans to teach English Language Arts to Middle School students, and may eventually go on to earn a degree in school administration.