A DAY IN THE LIFE OF LAUREN LOISELLE, GREAT OAKS HIGH SCHOOL ELA TUTOR

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5:00am – my alarm goes off. I hit snooze.

5:09am – round two. I hit snooze. Again.

5:18am – they might say, “the third time is the charm”… but it’s not for me. I promise myself next time will be different, and I press snooze one last time.

5:27am – I begrudgingly roll out of bed. I get up, get ready, and brew a large pot of coffee. I don’t need to be at school until 7:15, however for me it’s really important to have time to myself in the morning. I use this extra time to get any work done that I didn’t finish the night before, watch television or read a book, and drink the aforementioned pot of coffee. This time to ease into the day ensures that I will be ready to tackle everything it may throw at me.

6:45am – I leave for Great Oaks Charter High School. Depending on how I am running on time, I will often leave a bit earlier to stop by Dunkin Donuts for a coffee on the way. But if under time or budget constraints, I’ll just head straight to school. Luckily, it’s a short walk.

6:55am – I arrive at school. I like to get to school early for a couple of reasons. First, this gives me time to grab all of my tutorial materials for the day, print anything I need to before the morning print rush begins, and complete any onsite work I need to. Another plus of arriving before the masses is being first in line to use the Keurig (for days I can’t make the run to D&D).

7:15am – Morning meeting. Our tutor corps director, Ms. Belden, gives us a five-minute update regarding the day. All other admin and staff, including the tutors, can use this time to make important announcements.

7:20-7:25am – It’s time to head to the annex (our gym/cafeteria) and set up for my morning duty. Basically this means, I move a table and grab a couple chairs.

7:25am – the real fun begins. My morning duty is to collect the 10th graders homework. Upon arrival students must electronically check in with their IDs, get their uniform checked, grab a planner pass if they need one, and then head my way. Students turn in all of their homework before they grab their breakfast and sit down until dismissal. We do this for a couple reasons: collecting the homework before school allows us to keep students accountable for doing their work, decreases the chance of any integrity violations, and gives TAs the ability to grade the work during their off periods of the day. As the 10th grade AP World History TA, I’m able to check the work actively as the students turn it in. I also like this duty because it gives me a chance to wish all the 10th graders good morning as I work with most of them during the day.

7:55am – 9th graders are dismissed to go to their lockers and first period. I tutor 9th graders first period so I leave at this time too. First I sort through the homework I collected and put it in the corresponding TA’s mailbox so they can grab it whenever they get a chance. Then I head to my classroom, set up my tutorial group’s space, and lay out my students packets for them. I like to be there before them so I can greet them.

8:07-10:02am – 9th grade tutorial made up of two boys and one girl. This is hands down my most lively group so it is always sure to be an interesting start to the morning. Due to their extroverted personalities, we are able to have really in-depth, opinionated, discussions about the subject content. While fun, it can take quite a bit of effort to get all of their heads in the game first thing in the morning. Currently, they just started reading Lord of the Flies. I’m super excited about this! Besides being an amazing novel, it will allow my students and me to really dig into more theoretical discussions and they always have unique perspectives on subjective topics.

9:06-10:02am – Time for my first 10th grade “push-in” or in class support. This means it is my responsibility to circulate the classroom and provide accommodation services to all the special education students in the room. Accommodations can include redirecting students to be on task, helping answer any comprehension questions, or rewording directions and information in a different way. This is probably one of my favorite parts of my job. Seeing students in class is so different than seeing them in a small group setting. I also like pushing-in because it makes being a TA a lot easier when you are consistently in the class you TA for. Being in two out of three of the 10th grade history classes allows me see what they are working on and how the students behave in class to report back to their primary tutors for their weekly phone calls home.

10:05-11:01am – While I am not in class nor tutorial at this time. 3rd period is one of the most important periods of my day. This is the time I use to do paperwork. During this time I log all the homework that I collected into Dean’s List and the gradebook. I log any points I’ve issued since this morning, and once a week use this time to make phone calls home to all of my primary students. (On Mondays I also use this time to scan and upload my plans to Dropbox so my coach can give me feedback on how to improve).

11:04am-12:00pm – My last 9th grade tutorial of the day. And what a great note to go out on. This group consists of three amazing girls. All of them began the year very shy but as time has moved on we’ve managed to make some pretty solid connections. Much more mellow than my first group but every bit as enlightening. The best part of being an ELA tutor is getting to talk about interesting topics such as racism, discrimination, and morals and watch these students form their own opinions about them.

12:00-12:23pm – Before lunch students are given twenty minutes each day to read an independent reading book. This allows them to have some freedom. They are not being graded and can change books as often as they’d like (after reading the first 30 pages, students are allowed to “break-up” with a book). The only standardized expectation is that all students should be silently reading for these twenty minutes. Our goal is that eventually through finding the right book, all of our students will fall in love with reading. As an added perk, the staff are encouraged to model the behavior for our students so I get a chance to get some reading done!

12:26-12:50pm – Lunch time! I use these twenty minutes to do absolutely nothing productive. I tackled my morning head on and have an action packed afternoon, so I use this time to relax! I usually sit in the second floor space with my coworkers who have become close friends and we talk about our days.

12:56-1:52pm – On Mondays and Wednesdays I go to blended learning. At this time I work one-on-one with a student. Usually we play math games on the computer or read articles related to his interests together. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I spend this time at second floor hallway duty. This means I sit at a desk in the hallway and I check students for hall passes. I make sure everyone is going where they are supposed to be going, only one student is out of a class at a time, and check in the bathrooms every so often.

1:55-2:51pm – 10th grade history “Push-In” part II! This class is significantly smaller than the last but their energy cannot be out matched. It can be a real effort to keep everyone on task but we definitely have many laughs along the way.

2:54-3:50pm – without a doubt my favorite part of the day. On Mondays and Wednesdays I get to work with my 11th grade Replacement ELA students, a young woman and a young man. I’ve managed to build really strong relationships with both of these students, which is so important because they are some of our highest need students. We always have fun and we always get through a lot material. We will review class vocab, learn essential writing concepts, and reread the class novel (which at this time is Holes). If my students finish early, I let them grab Chromebooks and work on their narrative writing. A couple months ago our tutorial packet had them come up with their own story using plot twists I provided for them. Adding to this story has become a huge motivator for them to finish their packets quickly and reminding them of this is a great redirect to keep them on task.

3:50-4:04 – Dismissal duty; My job is second floor hallway sweep which means I basically stand in the second floor hallway and urge students to get their belongings and to head home.

4:05-5:00pm – on Mondays and Tuesdays, our students who need to most help or who are failing receive an extra hour of tutorial called PM Academy. This is an intense academic intervention program geared to catching students up and teaching them the study skills they need to succeed. On Wednesdays and Thursdays I stay after school with my 8th period ELA Replacement group to help them with their homework. The rule is that they stay with me until all of their homework is done but we usually finish before five. While this isn’t an official program, this was an important action step I implemented with them to help insure their comprehension of all material they went over that day.

5:00-6:00pm – My friends and I meet up in an empty classroom and debrief about our days. We share anecdotes of the funny things our students said or did, frustrations we experienced throughout the day, and give each other support and advice. I also use this time to complete my tutor survey. The tutor survey is a short form we will out at the end of everyday telling Ms. Belden and our tutor coach how our tutorials went. The survey also allows you the change to mention any red flags or concerns you might have.

6:00pm – this is where my day can switch up. Sometimes I work on grading or lesson plans until I go to bed. Sometimes I grab dinner with some of my tutor and teacher friends or sometimes I head into the city for the evening to visit my boyfriend. But mostly I lie in bed and watch reruns of Gilmore Girls for the 1,000th time. Besides, nobody will understand my love of coffee like Lorelai Gilmore.

Lauren Loiselle graduated from Auburn University where she earned her major in Psychology and a minor in Women’s Studies. She will be returning to Great Oaks Charter High School for a second year to further pursue a career in Special Education and Social Work. 

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