The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Student Helpers

There are some evenings when I just don’t know what I want to write about. I set a personal goal when I started this blog to update every time I taught, and I have worked hard at holding myself to that goal. (One night, not too long ago, I had actually just gotten into bed when I realised I hadn’t updated so I got up and wrote something up. I don’t even remember which day that was.) Of course, this goal was set when I was subbing, and I had been expecting to teach maybe two or three times a week.

But then I started getting assignments three, four, and many times five times a week. And so my blog became much more frequent than I had initially expected. Then I got hired full time and so I have worked hard to make sure that I not only update each day we have school but also update with something that is generally original. I don’t want to just keep writing about the same thing every day, even though, quite honestly, most of what we do each day is the same thing!

Today was one of those “we haven’t really done anything dramatically different, and nothing exceptional seemed to have happened” kind of days. Well, actually, no, that’s not true. Every day is exceptional, even the ones that are so mundane! It is just that so much of our day is routine that it is sometimes a struggle to capture that moment of the day that I want to write about.

But no fear! One of the great things that happened today has actually been going on for a few weeks now, and then culminated after school! In preparing materials for next year, I discovered that I didn’t have a set of original resources for half of the math curriculum. I contacted some very helpful folks at our Central Office and learned that they didn’t have any extra sets. So I had to take the originals from my awesome grade-level partner, who had all of hers in sheet protectors in two thick 3-ring binders and I had to pull out all of the pages to send them to the CO for copying. (Our district purchased a copyright for all of our core materials, so it is totally legal and legit to make these copies.)

The number of total pages was somewhere in the 500 range (I didn’t count–it may have been much more) and my students saw me working on the project one day. A few of them asked if they could help and, honestly, how could I deny students the opportunity to help? (Except when it comes to grading papers; I’ve had one girl express an interest to do so on more than one occasion, but I keep explaining that while I appreciate the offer, I can’t let her.) I showed them what to do and how to carefully remove the pages and neatly stack them. After removing all the pages, I bundled them together with a copy request and sent them off to the Printshop.

A couple of weeks later, they returned, and the first order of business was to put all of the originals back in their sheet protectors and back in the binders. A few other students helped with this project, which took several days. Then I had to tackle the hardest task of all: separating out the materials for printing for next year. Two students asked for the chance to help, so I showed them how to identify that chapter pretests, tests, and unit tests and how to put them aside. (The originals all have the answers printed on them, but mine are copies, so the answers aren’t visible.) The last task was to pull out the daily practice, problem solving, enrichment, and homework pages.

This was finally done this afternoon by a few of the students in the after school child care program. Because I am in the building until 4:30 or 5:00 waiting for my wife to pick me up, they asked for permission to help me out in my room after school each day for about 30-45 minutes. This isn’t something I get paid for, and it isn’t something they have to do. Also, they are only allowed to do it as a group after they have checked in with the ASCCP coordinators–no students in my room alone at any time! They’ve been helping out most of the year, stacking chairs, picking up trash on the floor, organising bookcases, and helping to generally tidy up the room. Today they asked if they could help with this project that has been going on for several weeks. They carefully pulled out all the pages I needed, stacked them in order, and then left at the appointed time.

As a result, I finally have all of my core materials ready for printing! Also, I was able to give several students tasks that allowed them to help out in the room and feel like they were more involved in the classroom community. All in all, a great success!

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One response

  1. Pingback: A Job for Everyone |

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