Tuesday, September 15, 2015

"Morning Mentors" Before School

At Chets Creek we have almost a hundred patrols in fifth grade.  I know- who has 100 patrols?  But the philosophy has always been that we should have as many patrols as qualify.  The bigger question is - who volunteers to be the patrol sponsors!!?  Believe it or not, there always seem to be two people on staff that do volunteer... and take the job very seriously.  Often it's staff members that have a 5th grader of their own so they have a vested interest in the success of the program and the final trip to Washington, D.C... or they are "volun-told."  Anyway, this blog is not about the patrols (I am in total admiration of the patrol program at Chets!)  This blog is about the non-patrols.

Even with 100 patrols, that still leaves about 150 fifth graders that are not patrols.  Some, of course, don't qualify for the patrol program, but others have scheduling problems that make it difficult to come early or stay late every single day and some just aren't interested in the job.  In years past those students congregated in the Media Center or the Dining Room. But this year, Jane Szerba, 5th Grade lead teacher, wondered if these students might do something different - if they might live the idea of servant leaders?

Our K-4 students sit in the hallways in the morning and read quietly, so Jane's thought was to pair the 5th graders who are not patrols with kindergartners and have them read together.  This is not a totally new concept, of course, but one that we have never done successfully on so large a scale.  We have had younger and older classes that paired together as reading buddies and we have had teachers try to get smaller projects of paired reading going in the mornings but  nothing that involved this many students.

Jane has many of her fellow 5th grade teachers on board, so on the first day they spanned out and placed 5th graders with kindergartners.  In a large school, like ours, 5th grade teachers don't always know kindergarten teachers well so this was an uncommon, although mutually welcoming, collaboration. Oh, there have been plenty of glitches and details to work out (such as asking the Principal to move some of the adult morning coverage to make sure we had extra coverage where the kinders sit, making room in the halls for the additional 5th graders, getting the Media Center to agree to take the handful of students who might not be successful with this collaborative reading for some extra computer time and making sure that they too have positive role models...), but I think people just naturally understand the possible positive implications of the program, if we can make it work.

Jane even suggested that we pair some second language kinders with same language 5th grade partners.  We currently have about 14 different second languages spoken at our school and we seem to have more and more students that come with limited exposure to English every year.  How much better it would be for a second language kindergartner to start his/her day with a personal language interpreter who could answer questions and become an advocate... and what an empowering job for the fifth grader?

This program will require continued vigilance from the fifth grade teachers past this honeymoon period for monitoring.  Fifth grade students and their kindergartner partners will have to invest in relationships and see the value for the program to have a prolonged impact.
So... stay tuned to see how this initiative of  "morning mentors" works out!


Sherrie Rabe said...

I'm so proud of our Morning Mentors!

Toni Chant said...

What an awesome idea!