Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Hello, blogland! I'm back.

I had hinted that big changes were coming at Kumon. Come to think of it, I probably should have take pictures; but I didn't, oh well!
Before the changes I had my own little room with a kidney table, a shelf behind me. I had four students per class, 7 classes per night (each class being a half hour). My kids came in, did their worksheets (typically 5 pages of reading and writing or math) with my assistance. Afterwards they did flashcards to check their learning. The flashcards consisted of letter sounds (lowest levels) and blends for the higher levels, numbers for math. Then the lower levels had a matching game with uppercase and lower case letters. There were charts with the sounds and pictures for me to us more has a practice with the students and hone in on the letters/sounds that are difficult.  There were tracing packets for students who needed additional help learning to write numbers and letters.

After the changes. The room is set up like a large, classic classroom. Rather than desks everyone has tables (two students to a table) with chairs. Everyone faces one direction. My students (the littlest ones) are in the back, where everything can distract them. There are about 50 people in the room at any given time. The older kids not only do their work, but move to a different area of the room for grading and then back to their tables for correction. There is lots of room for distraction! Even though I only have 2 students and 6 classes, I find they are way more distracted with the changed environment. Procedures have changed as well. They have taken these changes much better than I thought they would! We introduced some with the changing of the room (2 weeks ago), some yesterday and we still have a couple more to get to. I feel this gradual process is working well, the students don't seem too overwhelmed. Some still ask why but others are like, is this a part of Kumon changing? I've also been impressed at the way their noise levels have dropped considerably. With the exception of a few students, most understand that we have to be quiet in the big room because lots of people are learning! For the most part, these changes are going well and the students are adjusting.

There is one student who is having a really difficult time. He has autism, so routines and procedures being consistent is huge for him. He does not do well with substitutes; it has gotten to the point where we let his parents know when I will be gone and they pick up his work. The past couple of week he has been very loud (expected), not listened well (expected) and overall squirmy (expected). What I did not expect was him refusing to take a seat and running all over the center. It doesn't happen everyday, but has become much more of a regular thing, where it was not in the past. He will slip out of his seat, run to the nearest table and hide beneath it. You can imagine how distracting this is for other students (especially the ones at the table he is crouching under). Many of the staff have also been taken aback by some of the things he is now doing. Before we were in a closed off classroom, now we are on display every time something goes array. This being said, yesterday he was wonderful! Came right to his seat, did his work and only "fell" out of his chair once! I'm hoping that is a sign he is settling in and that we will go back to being that great kid who has his quirks. Either way, I will continue to be patient with him and we will work this out. But here's hoping to better behavior!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

End of the Year Changes

Yes, I am officially done with school for the year. It was restful for about a day before I launched myself into another project, but more on that later. One of the students I worked with this year graduated. It was neat to see how she got "senioritus" the last couple of weeks, just the same as all the other seniors. I guess I just expected her to keep working despite the school year coming to a close~silly me :) I was unable to attend her graduation or party, since my sister also graduated on the same day almost 2 hours away. That was a bit sad, as I spent the entire school year mornings with her. Her mother hugged me (at her last IEP meeting) and cried and I held it together (strange, I know); but the tears did come as I put her on the bus for the last time.

My other student will be back next year and I will see her at summer school in July, so it wasn't as emotional, which was good. If I don't get a teaching job, I will probably be back working with her again, so I may see her after summer as well.

What I have been working on has been insane! It will be over in a couple of days, but it is phenomenal how much preparation goes into it! A student in the same department as I (I only worked with her directly in PE and group activities) was diagnosed with an additional disability which is terminal. So me and a couple other staff members have been organizing a benefit for her. We've been collecting donations for the auction for the past month and are putting the final touches on the auction baskets and preparing the food in the next couple of days. I feel like there is always something else to be done for it. Currently I am working on a poster with the names of all the business owners (cut from my cricut) who donated items. It is overwhelmingly humbling how many businesses have given items and gift certificates! Although gluing all the names on the poster board is taking awhile :) Tomorrow we go pick up food donations and start cooking! My head hurts just thinking about it all.

For those who are local, here is the information for the benefit:
Hedi Benefit
Knights of Columbus, Bloomington, IL
Food, live bands, silent auction, live auction, raffle, Mary Kay, Scentsy, Norwex and 31 Purse consultants-come join the fun!
$10 cover charge includes meal and auction number

Whew! There are changes coming at Kumon as well, more on that later :)