Today marks the 6th month of my working as an AmeriCorp Volunteer under the auspices of MN Reading Corps. I was placed in a Robbinsdale Elementary School in Minnesota, where I have been tutoring Kindergarten – 3rd grade students to provie them with a little one-on-one reading assistance. My students are as diverse as the world we live in, I mean in every aspect of the word diverse. The definition of the word lends greater meaning to my usage of the word.
I have enjoyed teaching and learning so many different things about not only my students, but their teachers. The unique part of this is that I have 2 children who attend the school as well. I have grown to like the school I was already in love with even more, this love now spreads through out the entire district.
In my tutoring I have used the same skills I use on my children to assess where they are academically with the children I tutor daily. The only addition is the motherly instinct and love that is always within me. I adore children, their minds, the freedom with which they are able to express themselves without concern for preconcieved notions and judgements is a breath of fresh air to me, I also enjoy the same lack of judgement from them as I am trying to aid them at being better readers. I use materials that expand the mind. Generally we read about different countries and cultures from around the world. Many of those same cultures are amongst our staff and student body. I have enjoyed encouraging the children to think ahead of their current schooling. When I say schooling, mean career wise. Many of our children are not being motivated to think past their current situations or even Video games sadly. So as a part of my literacy tutoring, i have incorporated that as a means of motivation to reading and thinking of exciting careers and jobs they probably have never even heard of. Which is similar to what I do with my own children.
Too much is unknown to thos who are outside of the realm of public school education like Mrs. Betsy DeVos. People who have spent their lifetime in private sectors having the ideals that they know public school education and the schematics of funding etc, when infact they know absolutely nothing at all. I don’t mean to insult Mrs. DeVos or others like her I do challenge them to visit school district meetings and PTSO/PTA Meetings and hear the discussions amongst parents and administrators to fill in the blanks they are not aware they may be missing.
This year Robbinsdale Area schools is in the process of making many changes, among them are their Unified vision statement, which is currently “Excellence for all.” I have enjoyed watching the district apporach equity and inclusion to satisfy the state standards while now incorporating college and career readiness with our middle school students. Our children have enjoyed an annual civil rights tour where they visit various states with an agenda of educating them about the past. They have been referred to as “Freedom Fighters“as in an article about them by Alan Singer in a Huffington Post article. his article introduced an ideal which Robbinsdale district has regarding education. Children are learning about history and not his story. They are regularly educated about the lives of Christopher Columbus, George Washington, The battle of Little Bighorn from a different perspective and narrative. One that is less whitewashed than that which is dominant in the history books. This teaching seems to encourage the students to look more into a brighter future than the blique one the previous narrative suggested they take. Children of color and those who are of European descent are learning the same history together. As this change was not enough we now have the up coming changes to address the disparity of children of color being educated and encouraged to be career and college ready. Refreshing! As a woman raised in the city of Newark, NJ who had an outstandingly diverse learning experience. I am pleased to see the steps and strides for excellence and equity that are afforded to my children with and without my 2 cent contribution. Thank you Robbinsdale District Administrators and Staff. You are a wonderful group to work with and support.