Support in the Classroom
When I first met Aaron*, I noticed his timid posture: head tilted down and eyes low. I noticed he didn’t participate much in the classroom and fell asleep often. When my partner teacher first asked me to meet with him every day for 30 minutes, I knew I had hard work ahead of me, but I felt compelled to help Aaron and knew the potential that he possessed.
I began our 1:1 session with simple questions such as: how do you feel? What did you do this weekend? I noticed he could only muster a few murmurs. I asked him to spell his name, he only spelled his first name, wrong. I asked if he could write his last name but could only remember a few letters. I noticed Aaron lacked many of the basic phonics and literacy skills that his 2nd-grade classmates knew by heart, so I strategized to work our way up.
My first goal was to get my student to know every letter of the alphabet and to be able to point to letters and tell me their sound. I incorporated whiteboards, games, and other small activities that would be enjoyable to learn from. I noticed his enthusiasm in our sessions increased and after a few weeks, Aaron knew the letters and could spell his first and last name with no problem. I also realized; his knowledge of math was like his literacy knowledge. He would have to use a number line to add say 9 + 7 but would get to 6 and forget what I had asked him.
My partner teacher and I realized our student might have a learning disability or memory problems and sought professional help. Aaron was observed and helped by a school psychologist, and she told us to keep doing 1:1s. I learned of the many home challenges Aaron faced, and it explained why he came to school so tired. I encouraged my student to voice his emotions and used SEL strategies to teach him to face the frustration that comes with learning something new.
I have met with Aaron almost every day for months and continue to be astonished by his perseverance, grit, and attitude towards his education. I have adapted my lessons and collaborated with my partner teacher to ensure we give our students the best support to succeed now and beyond. I am proud of the immense emotional and academic progress he has made; Aaron has deepened my belief in the power of young people.
*Name has been changed.