For the past 6+ weeks, I’ve been running an after-school reading program available to kids who may not get extra help at home because their parents aren’t strong English speakers or readers. The intent of the program — as “club” as I’ve started calling it, to build the kids’ confidence and not have them feel labeled as special learners — is to expose the students to more English, reinforce phonics and enunciation, guide them through basic storybooks, and boost their morale about their learning.
I’ve got two different groups that meet two times a week, and they are so different from each other! Group A are kids who can speak English on a conversational level but struggle with reading comprehension and may lack motivation. Group B are kids who are completely new to GES, have very low English levels and look terrified every time I bring out a new book.
And they are all precious to me.
I have snacks and play educational cartoons like Word World to shake things up from regular school and make things more fun. We usually open up with letter-centered or blended sound-focused poems to loosen up their tongues and then I start working on individualized lesson plans with them. It’s tiring and keeps my mind whirring; I’ve maxed out my Thai and am having to learn more of this language to better communicate with the kids. I walk a thin line of having to motivate but still push without damaging spirits. It’s teaching much about myself: how I respond to emotions, how I find motivation to keep pushing forward and how I communicate expectations.
Did I mention that this is the first year that they are trying this new program out? Yeah, no pressure…right? If anything, I feel like I’m in it with these kids and am learning so much right along side them. Plus they let me squish their cheeks and they are free with their hugs whenever I see them around campus. It’s a win, folks.