Mid-Year Moments: A Reflection on the First Half of the 2015-16 Service Year

Guest contributor Patrick Moran and his co-tutor at their service site in Washington, DC.

From The Literacy Lab Summer Institute in August to the school holiday break in December, there are many defining moments for Pre-K and K-3 Literacy Lab tutors. Metro DC K-3 tutor, Patrick Moran, reflects on what he has learned during the first half of his service experience and how he plans to finish the year out strong.

1. What moments from your first few months stand out to you? How did that experience inform your tutoring practice?

I had been having trouble for the last couple of weeks with most of my first graders. Despite my attempts to make the sessions fun, I was struggling to get them to buy in to the process and work at becoming better readers. After reading about how important autonomy and responsibility are to children ages 6-9, I decided to try letting them do many of the things I usually do, such as opening the intervention binder and writing down the date. By handing these tasks and responsibilities over to the students, they felt like we were equal partners and that I trusted them. I haven’t had any behavioral issues since. In fact, I am constantly hunting for other such “small tasks” that I can turn over to them so that they begin running the sessions themselves. Despite knowing that being included was so important to children, I never would have imagined that their ownership of small tasks during our sessions would make such a positive impact on their learning experience.

2. How have you become more involved in the school community? How has your involvement outside of tutoring impacted your experience?

I help out in the after school program at least a few days a week, playing with students and helping them with homework. Additionally, I have been helping out in a before school exercise program, BOKS, which has been super fun, as well! I’ve learned that interacting not only with your own students, but the other students in your school is huge to becoming a part of the school community. It’s also hugely important to engage with the kids in roles outside of teaching. It helps you learn their passions and interests, and they come to respect you as a teacher more because they have seen you be silly and play with them. Finally, it helps me remember that they are just kids and need good healthy play!

3. Has your experience so far taught you anything about your future endeavors? Are you interested in pursuing a career in education (teacher, nonprofit, research) or continuing to volunteer in some manner?

For the immediate future, I am 99% sure I will be doing a second year with The Literacy Lab. I am enjoying it so much. I can see the progress my students are making, and I know how much a second year would mean and make an impact on them. Additionally, having my student loans in forbearance another year and getting another education award wouldn’t hurt at all! Beyond that, I think I may want to become a teacher or become involved at a higher level in education reform and non-profit work.

4. Imagine yourself back at The Literacy Lab Summer Institute in August – what is one piece of advice you would tell yourself?

Hmmm, if I could tell myself something back in August, what would I say? Perhaps the only concern I had at the time was wondering whether or not it would be a valuable experience. So, if I could go back, I would be sure to let myself know that it is absolutely worth it.

Learn how to serve as a Literacy Lab tutor: http://ow.ly/WgNER