Saturday, June 6, 2009

The class clown

(This turned into a series of entries on about the same topic. Previous student observations are found here and here.)

One of the most memorable students I've taught this past year is this fifth grade boy who couldn't read.

When I say he couldn't read, I mean he could probably read at a first grade level. Actually, many of his mannerisms are very first grade-like. He has an extremely short attention span. He is very, um, let's say bouncy; my CT was trying to convince this student's mother that the boy should get some sort of medical attention for his hyperactivity. He resembled a monkey more than any other student I've taught - he even had a special "monkey dance" for the most (in)opportune moments.

This kid is also very sweet. He says please, and thank you, and when the planets are aligned just right he gets it, really gets it. He's a very likable guy, no attitude problems. Very honest and gets along with nearly everybody. The rest of the class seemed to know there is something different about him. The would say, "Oh, he's just like that" when he did act out. They all, including my CT, thought I was a stick in the mud for wanting this kid to do better.

But because he was known for making jokes and funny faces all the time, and did get away with doing the things he does sometimes, he also triggered the other students into becoming class clowns. Which spoke more about the other students' mob-like mentality than anything about this particular kid. He is pretty funny. He craved attention of the laughing kind. I can relate to that.

He was also the kid I thought I could help the most. He desperately needed some sort of reading tutor, all written instructions had to be read aloud to him or else he won't follow and thus goof off. When he did know what the assignment was about, he could complete as well as any other typical kid. Well, as long as he didn't have to write anything longer than three sentences. Reading and writing are linked like that.

It's strange how he stuck out so well to me. His other classmates don't create nearly as much academic curiosity as this kid does. I remember them of course - they were a very memorable class, even without my student teaching troubles. But I've been thinking a lot about how to teach a student like him. I'll probably come across more students with a profile similar to him. Other than one-on-one tutoring and making sure there is a way for him to learn the content without intensive reading or writing, I'm not sure what else to do

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