A Day in the Life: Chelsea McCune, an 8th Grade Academy Tutor

Great Oaks Legacy Charter’s 8th Grade Academy is unique because it is a one year program established for 8th grade students. Students and staff rely on their close-knit dynamics to foster academic and character growth. Mondays start off with a community meeting and the week concludes with Friday morning Leadership Academy where the school Director and Dean of Students–with Tutor support–inculcate the seven habits of highly effective people. On an occasional Monday per month, Gender Group sessions are held to enrich social reasoning skills and to cultivate understanding of self and others.


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5:50AM RISE and SHINE! 😉 I’m usually the first one up in my apartment to use our bathroom to groom. I make my way into the kitchen where I boil water for rooibos or green tea (my favorites).  I drink my tea as I make a portable snack, like fruit and nuts or a peanut buttered bread slice to take with me. Then I get dressed.

6:45 -7:00AM On most days, this is when I depart for the 10 minute walk to school. Yes, even during the snowy/icy days in winter. Sometimes I walk with a friend/co-worker, or occasional take the 5 minute ride from Maiden Lane in the TV (Teacher’s Village) Shuttle.

7:15AM I’ve arrived. On Monday/Tuesday morning I have breakfast duty. For breakfast duty, I unpack cereal, milk, bread, fruit and greet students after they submit their homework. Other mornings, I spend this time organizing my tutorial space and reviewing plans. I also check that students are compliant with the uniform rule once they arrive for breakfast at 7:25am.

*This time is most crucial for us to express a sense of urgency for our students to exhibit RISE attributes (Respect, Integrity, Self-Discipline and Excellence) before they report to their homerooms.

7:55AM 1st period bell rings. I prepare my materials to report to my first ELA tutorial on Tuesday through Thursday or to my secondary post: Math in-class support on Mondays.

8:15-9:12  On Mondays, this time is reserved for Community Meeting or Gender Groups. All other days I report for my first ELA tutorial. This is when I tutor my quiet, three-member group. They are usually on-task.We read passages together and apply the skills they’ve learned in class, such as developing strong claims and thinking critically about how the issues presented in what we read relate to the real world. These students work well together, and learn to let each other contribute ideas.At this point in the year, they’ve started to behave like siblings and take advantage of their social proximity to correct each other. On Wednesdays and Thursdays, two students are assigned a blended learning activity called iReady, which allows me to work closely with the other student on the packet for that day.

9:15-10:12AM Math In Class support. Depending on the needs for the day, I either:

1) Actively monitor student’s understanding by walking around with an ‘exemplar’ (answer key) looking at their answers and guiding them to make corrections,

2) Lead small group study sessions to immediately reinforce skills acquired during class, or

3) Encourage certain students to participate more, take academic risk to iterate their process after they have worked on an assigned problem.

11:15-11:47 AM LUNCH. During this time, my role is to enforce the discipline system for transitions and during lunch. The students’ lunch period is my chance to eat and mingle with students in a relaxed setting. I usually talk to them about their day and their general well being, ask them what they are reading, or something unique they have learned outside of school. Often there are leftover student lunches that I and other tutors eat. Eating the same meal as the students has been a way to connect more closely to the student experience.

11:50 AM- 12:47 PM Report for my second ELA tutorial. This tutorial is a little more challenging to manage because the skill levels among my students are not aligned. On on-task days, two students will take the lead with readings and discussion, and will encourage their fellow tutorial mate to participate more confidently. On off task days, students usually complain of boring tutorial packets, so I provide discipline and teachable moments which can sometimes divert attention away from the student who needs more intensive individualized attention.

12:50-1:47 PM  All days except Monday, I maximize my time to annotate the following day’s ELA packet, grade math homework, grab a snack, support teachers or fellow tutors with projects like bulletin boards, or plan out the week’s Enrichment program with my Corps Staff coach.

1:50-2:47PM Report for 1st Math tutorial. The students in this tutorial are the students I worked with for my second ELA tutorial. Behavioral dynamics and tutorial management strategies are the same as they are for ELA. Students in this tutorial need a little more “teach” time on certain math skills.

2:50-3:47PM 2nd math tutorial. The students in this tutorial are those I provided ELA tutorial for at the start of the day. Again, behavioral dynamics and tutorial management strategies are the same as they are for ELA. Students complete a page at a time in the packet and ask me to check for accuracy or for help in showing their work. Most of the time they come to tutorial having nearly mastered the material. They are quick learners. Intermittently,though, I may see a student spending a long time on a problem, so I pause with them to walk through the process to the answer.

3:50PM Dismissal. Ideally this involves an “all hands on deck” approach where all tutors and staff escort students out of the school building. I shake hands, exchange positive daily parting words or give miscellaneous reminders to students before they leave.

[After School Programs 4 – 5 PM ]

Mondays/Tuesdays Power Up We as tutors provide academic support to aid with homework completion for a small group of students. This is an opportunity to tutor students outside of my assigned groups.

Wednesdays/Thursdays Enrichment. I lead the program for an hour. Because students often lose interest or patience with structure after school, programs are best kept light hearted, but engaging with plenty of incentives like snacks. I had the opportunity to lead the Dance and Spelling Bee enrichment for the majority of the first two trimesters. Before entering the third trimester, I collaborated with the Corps Staff Coach to create a Mathletes Enrichment which involved practicing math skills while playing life sized classic board games like connect four and Jenga.

Friday [2-4 PM] Professional Development. In these meetings we learn about school process changes, strategies to improve tutorial management & effectiveness, and tools to help build student character and growth mindset.

5:15 PM Arrive home. For a while I would bring home student’s math homework to grade, and packets to plan, but I reprioritized my time to complete work at school. My students call up to 9pm for homework clarification. I may use time after work to call/text parents to give praises, updates, or discuss areas of concern.

7:00 PM Cook and eat sizable healthy dinner so that I will have leftovers for a few days. Or I make an occasional grocery store run to Shoprite or Walmart via Uber or the T.V. shuttle.

8:00 PM Set aside personal time to recharge, nap, talk to loved ones. I am far from home, so it is important to keep in touch with them as often as I can. Sometimes I may watch a Netflix film.

10:00 PM Lastly, I will shower, drink tea, then sleep.

Chelsea is from Georgia and attended Emory University to earn her Bachelor’s in Sociology. Her plans moving forward as a Tutor Corps VI Alumna are to teach and mentor for a year in South Africa, and start an impactful career as a fitness professional/education & health development non-profiteer, and hopefully ultimately earn a clinical doctorate of Physical Therapy.


One comment

  1. CM is an excellent tutor and TA. She is well versed in the math and great at building relationships with students. Her tutees LOVE her and our staff loves working with her. She an excellent asset to team 8GA!

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