Challenging Keys to Success ☆

During the last week of training, the Buddies focused on what makes our program work. The benefits of daily, one-on-one work with underperforming students are apparent, but within that framework are a series of benefits and challenges that make the TC Reading & Math Buddies unique. Many begin with the concept of control.

Buddies are not acting classroom teachers, nor do we carry their responsibilities or authority. Buddies are guests in our community’s schools. We work with students through the permission, and with the ongoing assistance and support, of teachers and administrators. Buddies don’t adhere to a mandated curriculum. We are able to allow the students to guide their own learning in a way that cannot happen in a regular classroom setting. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, classroom teachers spend the whole day with their students; we leave the building after just two hours.

Classroom management strategies that we have learned at TC or practiced in our own room don’t work in this type of optional program–especially because most of us work in hallways or cafeterias. This isn’t to suggest that we don’t have expectations for student behavior, only that student behaviors will probably differ from those they display in class. Often, that behavior change is for the better. Many students thrive in an environment that is free of peer-pressure. Normally introspective students can come out of themselves in the new environment, and this stimulates their learning in new ways.

Over the course of a semester working with our buddies, we’ll find that most of these challenges are really opportunities.