Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Blogging, now with extra cuteness

Blogreaders, you've lucked out! I'm trading in book ramblings for cute kid stories! After giving notice to the store, getting all my documentation amassed to Oakland Unified's standards (they needed to see my HIGH SCHOOL DIPLOMA, people!), I've been waiting and hoping I'd have a new job before going on vacation again. I finally had my first official day as the instructional assistant for the second grade at Lincoln Elementary! It may not be pushing me into a new tax bracket, but it's so very easy and rewarding! Who knew you could work with kids full time and still retain your sanity?

Rebecca's First Day

My alarm went off at 6:30. At 7:45 I caught the #11 bus downtown. I'm at school from approximately 8:15-3.

Quite the warm welcome - there was a little blurb in the school bulletin and ALL of the staff went out of their way to introduce themselves. The 2nd grade teachers are just so grateful to have some help. And by the end of the day I already had streams of kids calling out "Hi, Miss Rebecca!" all over campus.
The school is about 90% Chinese, the staff is about 80% Chinese. You hear a lot of Chinese (presumably both Mandarin and Cantonese and a variety of dialects, not that my ears can tell) in the hallways and breakroom. There is always Chinese birthday cake. (In the 2nd grade there are also a smattering of other Asian students, about 3 or 4 black/African kids, and exactly one white girl who called me "sister!")

My day rushed by - this job is such a balm for my ADD. I'm never doing the same thing for even an hour at a time. I have about 7 45-minute chunks. I switch between the 5 classrooms (about 20 kids per class, 100 2nd graders in all.) and basically do whatever the teacher points me at. Usually there are a few kids in each class that I will regularly pull out to work with. The 2nd grades are all in portables, though there is a new building under construction for next year, so it's a little challenging to find another quiet space to work in - we hole up in the cafeteria or outside if it's nice out. This is probably TMI, but in answer to all of you who've been asking what exactly it is that I DO...
Class 1 - I actually stayed in the classroom, helping kids do their OCR (what they called DOL back in my day, it's that first activity of the day wherein kids correct sentences and do a couple other basic grammar questions) and daily math (counting money and telling time.) The last time I observed this class the kids were showing off their mealworms.
Class 2 - Pulled out 2 english learners to work on their fluency reading. Basically, they (very enthusiastically) took turns reading me stories. What a hard job I have, to be read to by cute children!
Class 3 - Pulled out 4 english learners and helped them answer questions in their workbook. (Dinosaurs, contractions, rhyming.)
Class 4 - They were doing an assessment so I got situated to the copying system, collated and stapled an upcoming science project.
Class 5 - Pulled out two newcomers. This was the only mild challenge today - one of the girls has only been here a couple of months, and unlike every other group they didn't seem to have a system going. Apparently they've been working on colors so we had some fun identifying and writing those for a while. Then I went back to the class and helped with math (and watched them do goofy imitations of the vision screening they'd had today) til the final bell.
Normally I'll also have 2 groups of English learners culled from all the classes - one for newcomers/basic English and one focused on writing.

Wednesday is actually a minimum day (they get out at 1:15) - normally I will be using this time to hold an extra tutoring session. Today I met with the teachers and got a basic curriculum for working with newcomers (mostly conversation - hi, my name is - and vocab sets - clothes, parts of the house) and firmed up my schedule. THEN the principal asked me to attend the school-wide training on pair/groupwork structures, which was surprisingly helpful!

Tomorrow I'm going with the 2nd grade teachers to a full-day writing workshop.

Are you tired yet? Well, I was back on the bus at 3:30 and fit in quality dog time and a long nap before dinner.

OK, I promised cuteness. The best names of the day?
An African english learner, a big fan of adventure stories, his given name is... General.
The two Chinese newcomers from the last class, girls with adorable haircuts and enthusiasm for naming colors, turned out to be named... Yin Yin and Yong Yin.


  1. Aww, that's awesome! Congrats on the new job, and I hope it continues as well as it sounds to have started out. And the report made a perfect break in my five minutes between writing up the notes from my first telecon of the day, and my upcoming third one...


  2. Thanks! I have to say, on the cuteness scale, kids > telecons...

    Report from the second day...
    You know you're going to get along just fine with your new coworkers when... the first order of business at the all day writing workshop is rearranging the tables to provide enough surface area for the massive heap of snacks everyone brought. Bonus - they treat you to a tasty Chinatown lunch.

  3. How many Chinese words have you learned so far?

  4. Ha, funny that you ask. I have learned exactly one at lunch today - doh je means thank you. Although, apparently this is only true half of the time in Cantonese? Great.

  5. i love it! many many congrats!