Time to start the day! My alarm goes off every morning around 6:00am and by 6:10 I have rolled out of bed and have started getting ready for my day at Great Oaks Charter High School.
I try to leave the room around 6:30 every day so that I have time to stop in the lobby of our temporary home at the hotel to get my coffee and some breakfast before I leave the building around 6:35. It’s about a five minute walk over to the high school and by 6:40 I have arrived and head up to the seventh floor to the staff room. After setting my things down at my desk, I get the ninth and tenth grade homework trackers from the printer. At the high school, every tutor has a morning duty to start the day and mine is the ninth grade homework collector on the seventh floor. Every morning I ask all the teachers what homework is due and put it on the tracker for each homework collector so they know what they should be collecting from students that morning.
At 6:50 every staff member is down in the lobby for our morning meeting. At the morning meeting announcements for the day and week are shared, anything we should be on the lookout for during the day such as uniform violations from specific students (some students have trouble keeping their shirt tucked in), and it is a time that we can shine on co-workers who went above and beyond the previous day. At the morning meeting, I get any homework assignments that I wasn’t able to get before coming downstairs and finish filling in all of the spreadsheets so that I can pass them out to the three other homework collectors.
This is the time when all of the work I have done so far in the morning comes in handy and makes life easier for myself and the other homework collectors. I sit at my table on the seventh floor by the breakfast table and collect the homework of all of the ninth graders who have their homeroom on the seventh floor. This is also a great time to see a lot of our students as they come to school, which to me, is a great way to start the day!
After homework collection is done, I put homework away in their respective folders for the TA’s to go through and then label any missing homework on the online tracker. This is also the time that I get to eat my breakfast and make sure that I have everything ready for my day of tutoring. After I have made sure that I am all ready for tutorials, I work through my to-do list for my secondary duty, which is as the Response to Intervention Coordinator and Special Education Assistant. I always have a running list of things that need to be done, so I use this time to get through as many of these items as possible. Some are as quick as sending an e-mail or checking in with a student, while others are a bit more time consuming like entering an IEP into the computer.
Part of my secondary duties is to push-in to a ninth grade math class twice a week to support our students. In this class I support our students with medium to high needs to make sure that they are learning and completing the work along with their peers.
After math class, I get back to the staff room for tenth grade math TTC. This is where we go over the plans for tutorial for the upcoming week with the tenth grade math teacher to make sure that we understand them and to ask any questions we might have about implementing the plans. If there is time after TTC, myself and two other tutors share the temperature lunch that gets brought up every day just to make sure it’s good and as a little mid-morning snack.
Right after TTC, it’s time for my first tutorial of the day! My first tutorial is with my three tenth graders who have all been with Great Oaks since its founding. They always come to tutorial ready to learn and work which makes working with them a breeze and a great start to my day of tutoring!
After I take my tenth graders down to lunch, it is time to eat lunch myself! This is a great time to relax a bit, catch up with my fellow tutors, and get any last minute materials together for my ninth graders.
Time for my first ninth grade tutorial! In this tutorial I have four students who are at varying levels. This can make tutorial challenging at times but if I plan out the week correctly, I can work with my two highest needs students together on the packet while the other two are working on the computer to improve their math skills even more.
I have a quick half hour break before my last two tutorials of the day which are back to back. I usually use this time to do any quick things for my secondary duty and to prepare myself mentally for my next two tutorials as they sometimes drain most of the energy I have left.
My last two tutorials of the day are back to back and are with the rest of my ninth graders. The first of these two tutorials is usually one of my favorites, but can also be the most challenging. While these students can be frustrating at times, they are always making me laugh and they work really hard to learn a lot in the hour that we have together once I get them focused. We have our own little room with a white board, which the students love to use to show off what they know to me and the other students in the group. Right after this tutorial, I head over to the last tutorial of the day with three sometimes very lively students. Since it’s the end of the day, these students can be very tired and not want to work, however I know how chatty they like to be so I use conversation as a motivator for them to get their work done. After they work for a solid ten minutes, we talk about something that’s on their minds for a couple of minutes and then get back to work. This keeps them motivated to work, and most importantly, awake!
The school day is almost over! After I set my tutorial materials down at my spot in the staff room, I head over to my homeroom, Frederick Douglas. Every day ends with a snack in homeroom while planners are being checked and students are catching up with their friends. In homeroom, I get to see students who I don’t get to see that much throughout the day since I don’t tutor them and find out how their day was. Once our homeroom is all cleaned up, it is time to dismiss the students. The students with on-time dismissal are read off and dismissed first, followed by the students with tenth period or PIT who are brought up to the eighth floor. On Thursday’s we also have enrichment which the students love so they do their best not to earn tenth period or PIT so that they can attend their chosen class.
Once students have been dismissed or brought to their respective after school consequences or activities, I get to finish any work I have from the day. I use this time to grade all my ninth grade exit tickets, log the points I gave throughout the day, and finish up some secondary duties that have to be done before I leave for the night.
I always try to leave school between 5:30 and 6 so that I can enjoy my evening, but the time I leave depends on how much work I have to get done at the school. Once I make it back to our lovely hotel, I do my daily survey and make any parent phone calls that are needed from the day. The rest of my evening is spent catching up with my co-workers that work over at the middle school while doing any other work I have for the high school. A lot of times this is working through tutorial packets or logging data for RtI (Response to Intervention) so that I can keep on top of my duties for my secondary role. On occasion, part of my night is spent on the phone with a student, helping them through a homework assignment or studying for a test. Then it is time to relax so that I am nice and refreshed to do it all again the next day!
Kelcie O’Neil is a 2014-2015 Tutor Corps member at Great Oaks Charter High School in Newark, New Jersey. She is a graduate of William Smith College in Geneva, NY with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Education. After her year of service with Great Oaks, Ms.O’Neil plans to attend graduate school to either teach math or special education.