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!