Private School Journal

by PammyMcB

While I was in school, I had the opportunity to work as a reading tutor and observe a classroom in a school for children with disabilities. Below is my journal entries. The names of the teachers, school, aids, and students have been removed in order to protect their identities.

January 21

Today was our first day at Xxxxxx School. I went to Mrs. Xxxx’s classroom. Her classroom consists of fourth, fifth, and sixth graders. I was surprised to see students grouped in such a way. The atmosphere of the classroom was a lot like the classroom that is on the A Visit to a Differentiated Classroom video. The students each have their own daily jobs. One student reads the job assignments to the classroom, tells the students what the weather will be like, tells the students what they will be having for lunch, and leads the Pledge of Allegiance. The classroom starts off a bit loud and bustling. Once Mrs. Xxxx takes control of her classroom, she tells the students what their class work assignments will be for the day, and each student writes the assignments down on their on assignment sheet. I like that they do this because it teaches the students to be responsible and how to make a schedule. I helped Xxxxxxx today. We first corrected his reading comprehension assignment from the day before. The readers that they use for this class are very, very old. I felt they were left over from when I was a child (when Xxxxxx was first started). Then I read with Xxxxxxx, if you can call it reading. Xxxxxxx had a picture search book with very few words in it. I asked him if he had anything else to read, and he told me that this was it and the teacher was okay with it. At least he is reading. Xxxxxxx seems to struggle with his vowel digraphs and diphthongs. Xxxxxxx also struggles with his vowel consonant e combinations. I like this classroom. Today was a fun day.

January 28

There was no school today at either ACU or Xxxxxx due to the ice storm we had this morning.

February 3

Today, I went to Mrs. Xxxx’s classroom again. This time I sat with Xxxxx as he read to me about George Washington. The students are working on autobiographies. Xxxxx read to me with both fluency and automaticity. Xxxxx read very, very well. I talked to Marianne before I went to the classroom. I asked her about her students and what the ratio of students at Xxxxxx is considered to have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Marianne said that about 24% were diagnosed with an ASD, but she felt that many of them were misdiagnosed. Anyway, today was an interesting day.

February 10

Today, I read with Xxxxxx in Mrs. Xxxx’s classroom. We read from a picture search book. I am not sure what I feel about students reading from books that are below their zone of proximal development. Xxxxxx had no trouble reading the book at all and did very well with his reading. I do not understand how the students with attention and distraction problems can focus in the classroom. Many of the students are up and moving around in the class as they have reading time. I noticed that Xxxxxx, Xxxxxxx, and another boy that goes to occupational therapy with Lily from West Texas Rehab have cubicles away from the rest of the class. I wonder if this decision was made in order to keep the three of them from being distracted. If so, I don’t feel it is working with Xxxxxx. The other students were all right behind his desk getting books from the shelf. Xxxxxx kept turning around and talking to them rather than reading the book.

February 17

Today, I got to read with Xxxxxxx. She is a very, very good reader. Xxxxxxx really enjoys reading. Her project is going to be over Anne Frank. Xxxxxxx said that she wanted to study Hitler, because she wanted to know what makes a person do the evil things he had done. I think Xxxxxxx should be groomed to be a psychologist since she is so interested in finding out what makes people tick. Xxxxxxx has great decoding skills and vocabulary knowledge. She did struggle some with vowel digraphs and diphthongs. I was really impressed with how knowledgeable Xxxxxxx is. She has very good comprehension skills as well. I had a lot of fun with Xxxxxxx!

February 24

Today, I did not go to Xxxxxx. Damien and Dylan had an orthodontist appointment in Brownwood.

March 3

Today, I sat with Xxxxxxx. We read from the reader and I helped her with the questions. I was sure not to give her any answers. Xxxxxxx reads fairly well. I would say that she is a struggling reader. Xxxxxxx has great comprehension skills, but she has a slow reading speed and struggles with decoding. Not too long after Xxxxxxx and I read from the reader, it was time for Xxxxx to give his presentation over George Washington. He did very well on his presentation. Xxxxxx kept asking silly questions after Xxxxx had finished. It took Mrs. Xxxx a while to step in and tell Xxxxxx he had asked enough questions. I also helped Xxxxxxx, Xxxxxx, and Xxxxxxx with their parts of speech papers. The assignment was fairly difficult for the three of them. I told them tips on how to remember what the parts of speech were. Mrs. Xxxx was not here today. The aid had to run to the office and asked if I would watch the classroom for a second. I nervously said okay. I knew if things got out of hand, I had Jeff to back me up. Xxxxxxx got up and started pestering Xxxxx. I told Xxxxxxx that he should sit back down and behave, and he actually did it. I am impressed. The class did great today. It was a good day today.

March 10

No Xxxxxx, it is Spring Break for all of us.

March 17

I didn’t go to Xxxxxx today. I was halfway to Xxxxxx when I decided to turn around and go to Kool Smiles where Dylan was. He had to have four teeth pulled today, and when I thought of him being home by himself until I got home, I felt like he might need me to be with him. I am glad I did. Dyl went to take out the gauze and blood started pouring out of his mouth. He freaked out a little bit.

March 24

Today I read with Xxxxxx. He finally had a real book to read. We read one of the books from the Magic Treehouse series. I think it was The Day of The Dragon King, or something like that. Xxxxxx is a very good reader; he just gets distracted pretty easily. We were asked to leave early today because of testing.

March 31

Today, I worked with Xxxxxxx. When Mrs. Xxxx asked who wanted to work with me, both Xxxxxxx and Xxxxxxx raised their hands. Mrs. Xxxx said I will get to read with Xxxxxxx next week. Xxxxxxx is a good reader, but he has some difficulty with vowel consonant e combinations. We only read a couple of pages when I was asked to leave early because of testing. Before class started, Goldie was in Mrs. Xxxx’s classroom. She told me that Mrs. Xxxx was her teacher last year. She asked about Damien and said that she misses him since she doesn’t go to West Texas Rehab at the same time we do anymore. Today was a good day.

April 7

Today, I read with Xxxxxxx. Now Xxxxxxx has been really anxious to read to me because he is one of our Reading Clinic clients. Xxxxxxx read from Bunnicula series. The book was Bunnicula Meets Edgar Allan Crowe. Cute title huh? Anyway, Xxxxxxx struggles with vowel digraphs, vowel diphthongs, consonant diphthongs, and vowel consonant e combinations. Xxxxxxx had to stop reading every few seconds to tell me things about other books in the series that I didn’t know. The book was quite funny. I think I might buy the series and read them this summer. I know, I am an adult and shouldn’t read children’s literature, but I like to know what my kids are reading. Xxxxxxx and I had a good time. At reading clinic, Xxxxxxx bragged to his tutor that he got to read to me today. I think it was pretty funny. He did great and it was good day today. I am going to miss all of the students in Mrs. Xxxx’s classroom. I am kind of sad.

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