Saturday, March 3, 2012

Character Development at 8 Years Old

I have one particular student, Kelly.  When I first inherited this class from the teacher before, there were 8 students, but so many of the others have dropped, moved, or gotten sick that lately it's just been Kelly and I.  Interacting with her on a one-on-one basis has been a real treat.  Without any other students to divide my time between, Kelly gets a personal English tutoring session for 80 minutes.  There's no way we can stretch out all our class material to take up that much time with only one student, so we've started a fun new routine.  When I come up to the classroom and Kelly's waiting outside the door for me with her long, shiny ponytail and large, inquisitive eyes, I ask her if there's still only one student today.  "Yes, Teacher!"
"Well then.  You know what to do."

I'll go over to the computer and fine some dance music on YouTube, turn the speakers low enough so as not to disturb our neighboring classrooms, then head to the open space between the desks where Kelly's already poised for our mini aerobics session.  We jump, jog in place, and do some other silly stretches.  Every once in a while, I can convince Kelly to show me the latest choreography from her K-Pop dance class, but I usually have to pry it out of her by showing her some of my hip hop class moves first.

After about five minutes of being perfect girls, we set ourselves before science and story.  I gotta say, I really appreciate how much both she and I enjoy our class material.  We started a new science session, and we've both been charging through it with our inherited traits discussions, lots of animal pictures from Google, and talk about what she saw at the aquarium last weekend.

It's funny to look at the energetic girl across from me and remember what I used to think of her.  She is quite sensitive to what people think of her, and I was slightly disgusted when I first saw her break down in furious tears after one of the boys offended her.  When this same ordeal began to happen twice a week, I was pretty sure we had some deeper issues going on.  I made sure to take her aside and try to work things out with her the next few times this ordeal occurred, but my last time talking with her about this was my favorite.  I'd put on my soothing intellectual voice and coaxed her into the conversation, she has calmed down enough to really be able to think through things, and we thoughtfully started to sort through it.  To make things more relate-able and more clear, I made a diagram.
(This was a joint project, so you've got some conflicting opinions and odd grammar here and there.)

Because Kelly was practically the only student left in her class, she was moved to a different group of students.  I'll miss getting to hang out with her, but I do hope that she learned more in my class than just how plants make their own food.

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