Update: Educational Coaching
The overall objective of this article is to highlight the benefits of being involved in your child’s educational journey…
After spending 15 years in a Montessori, bilingual, social justice classroom at Escuela Tlatelolco, I found I needed a natural transition. I still love to start the day with the exuberance and fun that children naturally possess!
Working One-on-One with students – Small changes yield big results.
I’m currently working with a fourth-grade student at a private school in Denver. I’m also working with an 11th grade student in a large public school. While both settings are completely different, I’ve had success meeting with school administrators, teachers and parents to build strong foundations for each student. I’ve developed unique relationships to benefit these students.
4th grade tutoring student
I met this student in mid-October. After talking to the school where he attends 4th grade and working with him, I assessed his reading level to be about early first grade (1.2), using DRA (Diagnostic Reading Assessment) tools. He was having trouble accessing English vocabulary in his classes. The school was concerned and wanted to hold him back a year. We (his dad and I) decided to use an extreme approach. Instead of attending regular language classes, I spend two hours a day with him at school. We usually start our sessions with tasks he feels naturally successful; in this case, math. We then work on phonemic awareness, reading fluency and comprehension, vocabulary, spelling, and integrate content curriculum into our sessions. We include most of the day’s content. For example, we may study photosynthesis conceptually, while also studying scientific language and everything mentioned above. His progress moved swiftly within just a few weeks. His confidence level has increased, his teachers have noticed, the school administration has commented. The school is supportive of my methods, yet can’t understand how he is learning so many concepts while the goal is language acquisition. Language acquisition happens in the midst of learning any subject when the intention is placed on it.
The true gift of teaching and learning is being allowed to move at one’s own pace. Our brain is like a sponge and can absorb much information at once. Because he is able to work with me one-on-one, his improvement in literacy has been remarkable. His reading fluency and comprehension increased by one grade level within four weeks of working together. My current target is to help him to increase vocabulary development and English speech patterns. We’ve reviewed short and long vowels, and are working on present, past and future tense, and word order in sentences. Speech/language development is crucial for vocabulary development. I use a systematic approach during the two hours that I work with him. I am honored to be working with this student from Pakistan. I’m confident of his ability to learn English proficiently.
A Note on Language Acquisition
One thing I’ve learned from spending time in the classroom is that ESL learners being “behind” is a misconception. They are not lacking anything! They have sophisticated language acquisition skills. The reason being, monolingual students were learning English while bilingual students were learning another language. My goal is to get students to transcend relationships to the point where language is not a barrier that holds them back. With less focus on word meaning, contextual meaning becomes more personal.
My skill set, experience and general/special education licenses give me the tools to help a child feel successful. I will share further developments as this fascinating process unfolds.
Inclusive of educational coaching, I am a board member of an international organization whose philosophy is holistic teaching and learning; an innovative approach to education. It feels great to be a part of renovation in education and equally as important to be an advocate for students within the current U.S. system struggling to find their way. Because of what I learned at Escuela Tlatelolco, I hope to help students find success that transcends into personal confidence, happiness and integrity.
“I am Joaquin. I will not be absorbed.” Corky Gonzales
11th grade student
This student has been placed in classes that are several years below her current grade level. I regularly communicate with teachers who supply a steady stream of classwork but cannot explain why she’s in remedial classes. She’s had a long history of IEP’s, details which the school will not share due to legalities. Her parents are also unaware of what’s going on and have entrusted her to the school system. At the onset of our work together, I assessed her reading level to be (7.1), several levels below current grade level expectations . She benefits from working one-on-one with me a couple hours a week. I’m raising standards by expecting more from her than the school does and she’s happily meeting this challenge! She is developing necessary skill sets in creative and essay writing, speaking and communication.
It is vital to bridge students, parents and schools. I’m grateful to Montessori philosophy and Escuela Tlatelolco for teaching me valuable data collection and observation. That’s been the number one key to implementing effective strategies in learning. I can observe almost any classroom and assess learning styles, find solutions, and communicate student needs to teachers and administrators.
Always ask for more. Don’t assume the school knows what’s best for your child. Parents are the child’s first and best teachers! Do your homework (read the standards) and insist on transparency. Never compromise what’s best for your child. Testing doesn’t always reflect a child’s true growth and progress. Be flexible; make sure your student can succeed at whatever tasks are set in front of him/her (i.e., capture compelling data in creative ways, like a portfolio). Your child can easily surpass the standards. If the school isn’t challenging your student, be sure to ask “Why?” Be ready to take extreme measures to make the best choice for your child’s needs.
For more information on navigating through this process, please call: 720-314-0616.
I am also available for consulting in a variety of areas, including SPED, ESL, learning styles and increasing literacy utilizing performance art in the classroom.