Starfish Story: A Nudge in the Right Direction

In City Year’s Whole School, Whole Child service model, corps members work with students who are not performing at grade level, tutoring them one-on-one while the teacher teaches the rest of the class. This prevents students from feeling isolated from their classmates, while still providing them with the extra help they need.

At one of City Year Seattle’s elementary schools, corps member Cori Hyde works with her focus list students (students who are showing early warning indicators of dropping out in the future) to ensure they understand the subject material. By working with her students now, Cori and the rest of her team ensure that these children will be ready to graduate from elementary school, middle school and high school, ready to take on the world.

In kindergarten, five-year-old David* is an affectionate, happy and creative boy. Every day he comes up to me for a hug and tells me he’s having a good day.

But Daily Math Practice is a constant struggle for David. He does not want to sit still, write or listen. He wants to play. David wants to spend more time doing hand stands and somersaults than staying in his chair. He is a ball of energy, and he misses much of his instruction because he can’t seem to sit quietly.

One day during his math period when he was having a particularly hard time focusing, I took the initiative to pull up a chair next to him.

“Hey David, what are you thinking about?”

Bey blades. They are so cool! You pull this string and then LET IT RIP!!!”

“Woah, that sounds awesome. But what are you working on right now?” I asked.

“Math – I can’t do it. I can’t think right now.”

“Would you like me to help you think?”

David nodded.

As the time for Daily Math Practice came to a close and the rest of the class began preparing for the lesson, I sat next to David’s desk. I asked him if he would stay in his seat and help me finish his math practice worksheet with him. During the next twenty minutes, David and I slowly went through the problems until he understood each one. He took a little longer than most of the other kids, but he finished every problem. He didn’t cause problems for the rest of the class because he now understood the material and was engaged and eager to learn more.

In that moment, it was clear to me that David understood his work but his vibrant energy kept him from sitting still. As soon as a problem was explained to him and he was allowed to verbalize his thought process, David really enjoyed math. Since that day, I continue to work on engaging David in his math practice but I no longer have to sit with him through his work.

*Names have been changed to protect the identity of the children with whom we work.

Text by Cori Hyde, City Year Seattle/King County corps member

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5 thoughts on “Starfish Story: A Nudge in the Right Direction

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention In that moment, it was clear to me that David understood his work but his vibrant energy kept him from sitting still." - -- Topsy.com

  2. Pingback: Heading Towards the Finish Line « City Year Seattle Blog

  3. Pingback: Perseverance – From Apathy to Academic Breakthrough

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