Tutoring the “Behavior Problem”

April 7, 2009 at 10:02 pm 2 comments

posted by Allison Warren ’08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher

allisonAfter graduation last May, I moved to my hometown, Memphis, Tennessee and took this school year off to have my first child. Because the school district has cut funding for tutors, I decided to volunteer once a week at a local public school.  I was assigned to help two first grade students with their reading skills.  The teacher asked if I would consider tutoring a “problem child.” My overwhelming reaction was, “Absolutely!”  The child, who I’ll call David, was born in Sudan but has lived in the United States since he was two.  His family speaks very little English. According to the teacher, his home life is a difficult one.

I began meeting with David and realized that his self-confidence was low and his distractibility high.  During the first few meetings, we strictly worked on forming a relationship, discussing common likes/dislikes and sharing books together.  I noticed David peering around the hall, getting out of his seat often, and saying under his breath, “I’m bored. I can’t do this.”  Instead of demanding he focus or negating his feelings, I did what Bank Street taught me.  I gave him breaks and agreed that reading can feel difficult.

One example brings a smile every time I think of it.  A few weeks ago, David and I were discussing ‘-ing’ endings when it seemed that a switch turned off in David.  He began popping his finger in his mouth.  You know…when you put the tip of your finger in the side of your mouth and pop it out, making a hilarious cartoon-like sound. David’s demeanor was one that read, “Watch this woman. What are you gonna do now?”  I smiled at him, put my finger in my mouth and popped right back.  His eyes were huge and he laughed. I said, “How loud can you make yours? Let’s both try five times and then we’ll get back to these endings.”  And…we did.

Allison Warren graduated in 2008 with a MS in Early Childhood and Elementary Education.  She is currently taking the school year off to raise her first child.

Entry filed under: classrooms, dialogue, early childhood, social-emotional learning, special education.

From 3 to 91: Intergenerational and Interdependent Six Earth Day Activities for Your Classroom

2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. nicole  |  April 14, 2009 at 1:19 pm

    Hi allison,

    Tell me, what will you do as a classroom teacher when you have
    7 children like David? The same thing? And do you think it will work?

  • 2. Allison  |  January 24, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I can happily say, now that I have 3 years of Kindergarten experience under my belt…..that….yes, I would do the same thing. I believe that kids need breaks, respect for whimsical and distracting moments. Most of all, I believe that allowing children the chance to express their frustration, leading them back to an important concept, and giving genuine positive feedback when they complete a difficult task is my job. I guess I could send them to a corner, embarrass them in front of others, or isolate them like the majority of my colleagues do. Thank God for BS. I know better.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed

An Online Conversation

Join the conversation among Bank Street College alumni blogging on education policy, practice, and point of view. Explore issues, ask questions, share what's actually happening in our classrooms, schools, museums, and communities. To submit a post, please send it to: alumni@bankstreet.edu.

Your Voice

Post your own opinions about teaching, learning, children, politics, special education, school reform, play, the standards movement, student teaching, museum education, leadership, block building, morning meeting, curriculum mapping, collaboration, isolation, benchmarks, bilingual classrooms, social-emotional development, the arts...right here on The Bank Street Blog!

To leave a comment on a posting, please click on the "comment" link beside the posting date. Comments will be reviewed before they appear.



Some of Our Past Bloggers

Alisa Algava ‘08, leader of a small Hudson Valley progressive school
Gloria Arenson ’58, psychotherapist
Bill Ayers ‘84, UIC professor, Chicago
Fred Baumgarten ‘84, writer/musician/naturalist/father
Keith Berman '03, founder/president of Options for College and Bank Street’s LinkedIn moderator
David Bowles ’08 (SFC ’93), museum educator at the Rubin Museum of Art
Elena Canaras ‘07, Special Education teacher, Hawaii
Virginia Casper, Bank Street faculty member
Jim Clay ‘88, director of a Washington DC Quaker preschool
Mary DeCamp Cotterall ‘87, Reading Specialist, Michigan
Judy Coven ’77, retired public school teacher and former Antioch University faculty member
Leslie Day '93, adjunct instructor at Bank Street and author of Field Guide to the Natural World of New York City
Mary Louise (Molly) Day ‘76, Lab School teacher, Chicago
Liezel de La Isla ‘99, Prague International School teacher
Diane Trister Dodge '70, founder and president of Teaching Strategies, Inc.
Meghan Dunn ’08, 3rd grade teacher, Brooklyn
Steven Evangelista ’01, co-director Harlem Link Charter School, NYC
Janine Fetters ‘02, Senior Associate of Parent Engagement at NACCRRA
Dena Florczyk '88, middle school teacher and founder/director of The Nigerian School Project
Hollee Freeman '94, writes about parenting issues for the alumni blog and was featured on BSCAA's April 2012 Career Panel
Ellen Galinsky '70, is President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute and author of Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs
Joanne Ruvolo Gannett ‘84, Columbia College art history professor, Chicago
Joan Goldstein ‘67, sociologist and educator
Margot Hammond, Director of the Center for Early Childhood Professionals
Carol Hillman ‘67, early childhood educator, author, and Long Trip co-leader
Pam Jones ‘05, Bank Street advisor and instructor
Lee Klinger Lesser ‘87, trainer for the Parent Services Project
Preminda Langer ‘97, teacher trainer
Claire Milam ’97, life coach, Austin, Texas
Rabin Nickens ‘03, Speaker, Trainer and Educational Consultant
Beth Norford ‘89, consultant and former School for Children teacher
Susy Ogden ‘97
Marion Palm ‘95, Leadership in the Arts alum, writing tutor, poet and singer
Jessica Poser, assistant professor of art education at UIC, Chicago
Jesse Pugh '76, BSCAA President
Meg Rauen ‘06, former Chicago elementary school teacher, NY
Linda Reing, Bank Street Director of Alumni Relations
Rosalind Rothman '62, retired NYC teacher and guidance counselor
Kyla Ryman '92/'97, educational coach and consultant
Ariel Sacks ‘06, middle school teacher, Brooklyn, NY
Linda Appleman (Guidall) Shapiro ‘81, psychotherapist and author
Barbara Silver ‘80, literacy consultant and former NYC first grade teacher
Andrea Penny Spencer, former Associate Dean of Academic Affairs at Bank Street
Debbie Stone ‘84, former teacher/co-director of High Valley School
Rachel Theilheimer ‘74, chair of teacher education at BMCC/CUNY
Theodore Timpson ’05, founder/president of Young Spirit Foundation
Eleanor Traubman '95, is Editor in Chief of Creative Times, a blog which promotes NYC's performing, visual and literary arts
Allison Warren '08, new mom, recent grad, and early childhood teacher
Max Weinberg ‘03, Francis Parker School teacher, Chicago
Ted Wells ‘07, 4th grade teacher at The Park School, Brookline, MA
Tracy Wiessbrod ’03, kindergarten teacher and stay-at-home mom

%d bloggers like this: