During the afterschool program, the students spend the first hour working on homework. Since there are so many 5th graders, we divide them up so that each room has half of the 5th graders. This particular day, the students in my room were working on publishing a writing piece so I was pretty busy setting up the computers while at the same time helping other students with their math homework. Kate, a student working in the other room, came over and asked me if she could read her fluency piece to me. In a sort of flustered state, I told her that she could read with me once I finished setting up the computers. So, she was just standing around in my room, and I encouraged her to go to her room and work on something else. I told her that when I finished, I would go over and get her. Time passed by and I completely forgot to go over and get her. Since she was not in my room, I couldn’t use her face as a reminder to go and assist her.
This was a very difficult situation because I know that Kate really wanted to read to me. She has been encountering a lot of problems with peers talking about the way she dresses and acts. I have made it a point to be there for her and encourage her to be comfortable with who she is and what she wears. Because of this, I think she has connected with me in a way that she hasn’t with other teachers. When I saw her at the end of the day (before even realizing that I had forgotten to read with her) she looked at me and had a very sad look of disappointment. It did not register with me why she looked so sad, but looking back, I know it was because I let her down. This situation was very upsetting to me. The next day, I approached her and sincerely apologized for forgetting about her. I explained to her that I was not trying to blow her off. I told her that on Monday, if she wanted to read with me, I would make sure that it happened. She gave me a hug and said it was okay and she wasn’t mad. She had an enormous smile on her face and happily walked back to her class.
I can see how some would think this situation was insignificant. It wasn’t like I flat out lied to Kate or forgot about her because I was surfing the internet or chatting with the other student teachers. Even though the reason why I forgot about her may be “valid”, the disappointment that Kate felt was also valid. I believe that Kate’s desire to read with me went beyond her wanting to get done with it so she wouldn’t have homework. I think it was her reaching out to me and in this case, I let her down. I’m not being harsh on myself; I just want to set a standard for meeting the needs of students beyond instruction. Furthermore, even when I do get sidetracked (which will more than likely happen again), I understand that I cannot be above apologizing and protecting the feelings of my students.
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