The Lawndale Tutoring Experience

30 Jan

“I was 1 of 75 males in my high school class & there are only 23 of us left,” a security guard told me today at a school I’m tutoring at in Lawndale.  “But, 15 of us out of the 23 were in the same classroom.”  I asked him about his teacher & he said that she was radical and “hell on wheels.”  The first day of class, she assigned 7 chapters of math, 7 chapters of reading and a whole lot of other stuff, all due the next day.  When the parents complained, the teacher told them that these are gifted students, so they should be able to handle it.  Also, she said she was preparing them for the future, so, if they didn’t want her to prepare them for the future, she was sure that there were other students who would love to be in the gifted class (who had been 1 point short, etc.).  No one took their kids out of the class. =)

“The principal had to step over the dead body to get into her car,” the same security guard told me…at his last school, there had been a shooting right out front…”kids have guns in elementary school now, so when they get to jr. high & high school, nothing is a shock.”  True.  I expected the worst the 1st time I taught in the inner city…I thought a kid would probably threaten me with a gun, but it didn’t happen.  A 6th grade student did bring a huge kitchen knife to the school though, to attack another child.  When discovered with the knife, the girl ran out of the school…and was somehow found…anyway…nothing like any of this happened during my actual tutoring today…this are the highlights of what actually has been happening…

“Are we going to jump rope today?” was the 1st thing one kindergartner asked me.  I am tutoring them in the subject of reading.  =)  

When a kid would try to fight another kid, I would show them my heart necklace and/or my heart ring and say, “Feel the love.”  Some kids would touch my jewelry and others didn’t want to touch it; they would stop fighting.  Willy Wonka is one of my discipline role models…I think of how Verucca Salt was tasting the lickable wallpaper, brattily spouting, “I wanted snozzberry!” and Willy Wonka responds, “We are the music makers, we are the dreamers of dreams.”  Verucca is speechless and open-mouthed; Willy is the master of distraction!  I aspire to be like him.

One boy asked me, “Do you know how to bop?”  When I asked him who wanted to teach me, almost all of the 12 kids in the room at the time, started screaming, raising their hands and jumping up and down!  One girl was trying to help me bend my arm in true bopping fashion, but I think she gave up on me =) .  Typical of my dancing ventures.

“That was the weirdest thing I’ve ever done,” said one girl when I was finished singing “Turtles and Snakes” (a song from State Farm Day Camp) with hand signals.  I gave her a high five.

“What’s wrong with you?” one kid asked me during a bathroom break.  I don’t remember what I was doing, maybe talking about my grade level (25?) or my age (600?)…

An adult who I’d never seen before walked into my room and let me know that she wasn’t going to let Brian (1 of my tutees) have his own computer anymore, because he broke it…I had no idea who this person was or what she was talking about…I just told her thank you for letting me know and I understand…

At one point, the intercom came on and said to our room, “This is the office.”  OH NO!  A kid must have pressed the button.  I didn’t even know where the button was.  I said, “Oh, it was an accident, or maybe it wasn’t, but…it was an accident!” 


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