Monday, September 29, 2008

The Teacher And The Student

A few weeks ago, Hannah had a meltdown during school. These meltdowns happen most often when she is asked to do something that is a little bit harder for her (like taking longer than the manditory 30 seconds to figure something out - at least in her brain). She was doing some reading for Science about plants and animals and I asked her to either explain to me what she read or write it down. This caused the conniption. I explained to her that writing stories will be a major focus of her schooling this year because she's weaker at it. Not weak. Weaker. She happens to excel at reading and really doesn't need much focus on reading at this point. A few days later, she managed to write a sentence using dog and ran. The sentence was: The dog ran. Obviously this needs work, but I was at least hopeful that she made an attempt.

Today, two weeks later, she surprised me. It's amazing how quickly they can grow right before your very eyes because that's exactly what she did. As you can see from the picture above, she wrote the sentence using the words Sam, played, water and fish. Her sentence was: Sam played in the water but the fish did not like it.

How's that for a huge improvement? And printed very neatly, as well.

I was so excited that I kept bragging on her all day. I told her how pleased I was with her sentence. She smiled for hours. I asked her if she was ready yet to write me a story, and she said, "Mom, tell you what. If you'll give me three days to write it, I will." I told her, again quite happily, that we had a deal.

I think because she was glowing about her accomplishment today she started thinking about school in general. As in school in a classroom, with lots of kids. She asked me what I thought of her maybe becoming a teacher one day. I told her I thought that would be great. After all, she'd have all summer off (facetiously, of course).

She decided to begin practicing being a school teacher immediately. And, she managed to coerce Seth into being her student. As I was making supper, I listened with great interest and much amusement to the exchange of the schoolmarm to her pupil.

"Student," she says very seriously, (she really did call him student) "we will now colour. "

"Okay teacher," the student congenially replies.

And back and forth the exchanges went, with the teacher addressing the student and the student gamely complying. I was fascinated.

I called them for supper somewhat reluctantly. The teacher asked me if they could continue with school after supper and I wholeheartedly agreed.

"Come on, student. It's time for lunch. After lunch, we'll have some more school, and then we'll have recess," the teacher replies.

"Okay, teacher."

I sat through the exchanges of the student and teacher the entire meal. The teacher very gently corrected the student on his eating habits.

"Student, please do not talk with your mouth full of food," she asks politely. Really, I was impressed.

"Okay, teacher," the student humbly answers. I was doubly impressed. Normally I do not allow Hannah to do my job in correcting and teaching Seth, and normally Seth will not tolerate it. However, I decided not to ruin a good thing and let these exchanges continue.

While Seth was occupied, I whispered to Hannah,

"Why don't you bring out your chalkboard and put some letters on the board and see if Seth will try to print the letters."

Her little face lit up delightedly. And that's what she did. So after lunch, (which was really supper) she called her student into the living room where she had printed the letters A through J in capital and small letters on the chalkboard. She gave him paper and a marker and asked him to try to copy these letters, one by one. I was listening with great interest.

This great little teacher encouraged him, complimented him and managed to get him to do her bidding. Really, she was very patient and very kind. And I was very proud. He printed all the letters she asked him to print. He has been able to print his name for some time and has printed letters upon request, but he has never stayed interested for as long as he was today.

She then told him that she would teach him to read. I was REALLY interested in hearing this. She sat beside him and read from a book, pointed out certain words and asked him to repeat them. I was chuckling quietly in the kitchen. He was doing exactly what she was asking.

This lasted only about five minutes and then he'd had enough. However, he had seriously concentrated on his school for about a half hour total, which is about 25 minutes longer than usual.

I asked Hannah to show me his letters. Unfortunately, they were written with a faint yellow marker on white paper and I couldn't see most of them, or I would have taken a picture. I praised both the teacher and the student for the great work they did. And I realized that Hannah might be one of my greatest assets in teaching Seth. Sometimes it works better coming from someone else.

Hannah asked me tonight if she could teach Seth school again tomorrow. I told her that she could teach Seth any old time she pleased, as long as Seth was willing, and that she would have to stop the minute he was done.

It's been a wonderful day.


In the Light Photography said...

I employ strategies similar to this when instructing cadets. Often using things like making them create skits to represent what they have learned. It not only forces them to apply their knowledge, but it also allows them to be actively involved, and use creativity. I was very proud last night to have an extremely attentive class (impressive, but I think it was just because they were scared of the chick with a stick.)
Anyways..instructional techniques, one of my favourite things!!

Darla said...

Yeah, Hannah will have to teach ME different techniques at this rate.

In the Light Photography said...

It is fun. You should also consider putting your kids in cadets when they are older. It is amazing for this. Plus I will be a CI then, and I can help them!