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Thursday, June 1, 2017

Baby teachers, part 2

This post is about the fourth SAM I worked with this year.

Before this semester, I didn't know her.

She was assigned to my third hour because I begged.

I wanted to have student mentors in as many classes as possible.

I asked for Spanish speakers.

Most of my transfers from the international welcome center spoke Spanish.

The counselor was great.

She poached this student for me.

Angelina (a pseudonym) was scheduled to work with another teacher.

But she was taking Spanish 4.

And she had room in her schedule.

It was a perfect fit.

Though communication was sometimes a struggle, she adopted those boys.

On the first day, she explained they were going to teach each other.

She would help with English and they would help with Spanish.

By the end of the second week, she was in full teacher mode.

I gave the class instructions.

She pulled them up at a table and broke down the assignment.

At first, she would ask me for permission to modify things.

Once she got more comfortable, she didn't bother asking.

I always said yes.

Her judgment was consistently sound.

Her manner was approachable but firm.

Within weeks, the boys starting referring to her as Ms. Lina.

That is how talented a tutor she was.

Frequently, she and I would talk about how to be helpful without giving away the answers.

Angelina has the gift.

That innate sense of how to prod, cajole, encourage, support, and ask questions.

It was like having a talented TA in the room.

At the end of the semester, I completed her final evaluation.

In it, I wrote that I didn't know what she wanted to do with her life, but the teaching profession would be lucky to have her.

Both of those boys passed with high grades.

One was exempt from the final exam.

As she put it, "They even started working outside of class!"

In her final reflection, she talked about building a relationship with them.

She talked about learning to balance help with giving away the answers.

Then she answered a question about considering teaching as a career.

Her response was epic.

She said yes. She said it had never occurred to her before to teach.

Until this experience, she hadn't thought about it.

She said that even though she had tutored in other classes, my classroom opened her to the possibility of becoming a teacher.

There isn't much that is more gratifying or flattering than that.

It is a good thing.

It is a good way to end the year.

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