Struggling-need advice and motivation

Discussion in 'General Education' started by Jem, Aug 1, 2009.

  1. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Aug 1, 2009

    I'm struggling, and thought my friends on here could help. Any and all positive advice is welcome.

    As many of you know, I'll be teaching a single student this year at her home. Think homeschooling, but I'm the teacher. The issue is this: we've been given a pretty large room on the lower level of the home to work in. This room, however, has been used as a guest room/classroom for the last year. There is an enormous bed in there, several bookshelves filled with books and a fireplace. There is also a piano, too many large chairs and two long folding tables for our use.

    Not a classroom vibe AT ALL.

    I've been given the ability to change this room as I please, but I don't forsee asking to remove the bed to go over well. They do have a lot of guests, and this is where they sleep.

    My student is FABULOUS, but like any fifth grade girl, wants to snuggle with the dog on the bed instead of reading (and I want to FALL ASLEEP when we're on the bed). Sitting in these uncomfortable chairs at a folding table does not do much for the focus factor.

    I tried to make some large posters to hang around the room, but they do not stand out against the walls very well. I made a word wall on the windows, but eh-I don't know.

    I would love advice on how to make this feel a bit more like a learning environment while still making it feel cozy and nice. I need to take her out of her 'home' element, but I'd also love to do a theme or surround her with something. I was reading through the fifth grade decoration thread, and loved the idea of a coffee shop. But I can't bring couches and stuff in here like I could a classroom, and I have to deal with all this other STUFF.

    Any ideas and advice are welcome. I'm finding it really hard to adjust to this from the classroom environment.

    [​IMG]
     
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  3. ArizonaTchr72

    ArizonaTchr72 Companion

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    Aug 1, 2009

    Could you make or purchase a screen to section off the bedroom portion of the area? The screen could be a backdrop for posters, a word wall, etc. This way the bed would be off limits during classtime for your student but could easily be put away when guests are around. The chairs almost look like patio chairs. Could those be moved to another room? Your student is adorable! Hope you have a rewarding year!
     
  4. little317

    little317 Groupie

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    I see there is a nice area rug in the room. Maybe you could put it in a corner and bring in some throw pillows to create a nice cozy reading area.
     
  5. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Arizona-BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!! I LOVE that idea!!

    Looks like I'm a-going screen shopping tomorrow.

    Any other ideas?
     
  6. smurfette

    smurfette Habitué

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    Maybe get a whiteboard easel. Students love to write on the board! Beanbags for the carpet area. If you get an easel from IKEA, you could teach lessons on the carpet.

    The bed should be off-limits during school.
     
  7. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Yep, we've got a large easel. It's beautiful.

    I just put a want out on freecycle for any and all large bulletin boards and whiteboards. Maybe an office is getting rid of one or two. Then I could create some displays around the room for our content areas.
     
  8. Missy99

    Missy99 Connoisseur

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    How about a kidney table (or something similar), while you are at it? That is more classroom-like.
     
  9. Teaching Grace

    Teaching Grace Connoisseur

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    Aug 2, 2009

    Could you put cushions on the fire place and create a small meeting area? Maybe put an interactive bulletin board that covers up the fireplace until it's needed again. Good luck Jem!!
     
  10. mollydoll

    mollydoll Connoisseur

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    Maybe you could completely divide the room in two and start from a totally empty room. You could ask for a specific budget and then you could turn the shopping into a lesson in planning and budgeting.
     
  11. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    What an interesting problem!

    You can buy white board at Home Depot, the kind of board you would put in a shower which might work as a great divider. Maybe put several of them together using hinges which you could remove and put in a corner when not in use.

    I'd stay away from the bed too.
     
  12. nothermanda

    nothermanda Companion

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    Aug 2, 2009

    If it's possible, leave the room when you both get tired. Instead of sitting at the tables, walk around the room and talk about whatever you're studying.

    I was homeschooled, and we converted the dining room to a classroom, but we hardly ever stayed in there for more than a few hours a week. Instead, Mom took us to museums and parks, we practiced math skills in the kitchen (spaghetti noodles are GREAT manipulatives!), and we took care of several pets outside.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Aug 2, 2009

    Jem- I think all the advice you've received above is great...I think taking the bed out of the equation is an excellent idea...too 'cozy and intimate', I think...It's kind of a tightrope- working in someone's home, you're exposed to a more 'upclose and personal' relationship with your student and her family than you would be in a classroom. I've encountered this with tutoring- people running around in bathtowels...:eek:, it's kind of part and parcel with being in your student's home and teaching while their 'home life' is going on!There are definitely positives to developing those strong relationships but at the same time I think you are absolutely on the right track as far as making your working space just that- a working space, a classroom, a place for learning- yet at the same time maintaining a comfortable, cozy and personal place for your student.
     
  14. 1stGradeRocks

    1stGradeRocks Comrade

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    I really hope you got permission from the parents before posting your student's picture on the internet.
     
  15. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    YES, YES, YES!!! I HAVE PERMISSION TO POST HER PICTURE! Sheesh. ;)

    Thanks for the GREAT advice, guys. I'm going to see her in the afternoons this week, and I've decided to make 'decorating' the room our plan. We're going to design, purchase the materials and construct a large plywood 'screen' to go around the bed, and then we're going to cover it with corkboard and make it into a panneled bulletin board. That was a FABULOUS idea-thank you!! I think we'll also make one for in front of the fireplace.

    I sent out a freecycle request for a bulletin board to hang over the desk area, but haven't heard back. I'm going to do some more brainstorming tonight. We also have to do some work on her website, so I think between the two, we'll be kept very busy!!
     
  16. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Thanks-it's nice to have someone who understands that atmosphere. :hugs:

     
  17. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

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    Yes, the plywood screen is genius. I thought of something similar for the moment. Now for the room in itself, what kinds of things will the family let you bring in? Will they let you take anything out, or do you have to completely work with what is in there right now?
     
  18. MsMar

    MsMar Fanatic

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    Definitely make a math lesson out of this!
     
  19. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    I am thinking that maybe the bed could be made into something. My spare bedroom has a daybed in it with lots of pillows to become a reading area. My DH hides in there to read all the time. Maybe you could put a board on it to become a dispay area.

    Good luck.
     
  20. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Ooooooh-GREAT idea, Blue!! I love that. Maybe like a museum area? Her mother and I were also talking about making a 3-D timeline. I could use the board on the bed as our base.... love that!!

    I think we're going to make some custom curtains as well. She loves to sew, so that will be a project.

    Love these ideas!
     
  21. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jem,
    I admire you for taking this on - and wish you every success! Do you still have some of your "Harry Potter" stuff? It would seem to me that the wing chair(s) would be perfect for that "coffee shop" theme you mentioned. One caveat on my part: make sure that EVERYTHING you bring into that home is (a) labeled prominently with your name and (b) approved by Mom/Dad. I would hate for some misunderstanding to undermine your glorious work!
     
  22. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Thanks, Nana. The parents are AWESOME about that-they actually just gave me all her curriculum from last year to sell on Sprout, totally free! They are also paying for everything, and I'm personalizing everything for my student, so it's kind of my gift to her. It's so strange how different everything is now. Before, I was completely possesive of my stuff simply because I knew how hard it would be to replace it. Now, they reimburse me for everything so I don't mind making it all into gifts for my student.

    Anyhow, those chairs were left at my old school. I had no where to store them, and they were pretty dirty. I'm starting to get some good ideas as I work on her pacing guide. I'm also going to to brainstorm tomorrow while she works.

    I want an art corner that looks kind of like a studio area (she visited my friend's studio the other day and went CRAZY over look of the place). I'm going to bring my dress form down eventually for her to work on. So I guess I'll lean more towards an eclectic studio look.
     
  23. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Sounds like you are on the ball again! Now I just need your creative help with my endangered animals classroom theme for 1st graders, lol!
     
  24. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Jem, can I ask (just because I'm nosy!) why your student is homeschooled? It just fascinates me that people have so.much.money to be able to do that for their children! Awesome.

    What are your hours? Every day? Weekends? Do they think of you as a kind of nanny too? Are they there while you are? Does it get uncomfortable with just you and her there? I'm so curious!
     
  25. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    kcjo-Her parents are authors and speak extensively on their topic. They travel around the world for their presentations and like to take their daughter. They had her in traditional classrooms through third grade, but found the time she would miss was not going to work well with her academic success. Her third grade teacher became her private teacher for fourth grade, but they parted ways last year so she could pursue a career in women's studies. I'm on board for this year (and hopefully until she graduates HS, as they have alluded to several times). I'll work around their travel schedule, and eventually travel with them. They would like me to go to NYC with them in Nov, so I'm planning a week of immigrant studies while we're there-visiting Ellis Island, etc. Her parents are firm believers in experiencing to learn, and want us to go out and DO. This student is extremely talented in many areas, and they want to encourage her and support her with all their resources (they are very, very wealthy), but they are in no ways snubbing the public system. Her mother works with future teachers, and her father is actually the keynote speaker at Fresno's back-to-school teacher convention (I helped him brainstorm ideas for his speech ;) ).

    My hours are from about 8:30-4:30 each day. Every day. No weekends. I've stayed over for two nights, and will do that again in a few weeks while her parents travel to places she would not be interested in (Pittsburgh....). I could be considered a nanny in some respects-I pick her up from her activities if I'm only there for a half-day (like this week), but her parents consider me a 24-hour teacher-everything we do, she's learning something. They are so happy, friendly and supportive-they call me part of the family and truly treat me as such. I spoke with them all on speakerphone the other day, and they didn't hang up right away-I heard them all cheering about the website I had made and if felt soooo good.

    It never gets uncomfortable. I love my student to death-she's an amazing kid. I get tired and drained, as I'm sure any 'parent' does, but it's nothing more than a classroom would do as well.

    I'm making her pacing guide right now, and it's like making a pacing guide for a classroom except my mind knows the resources and freedom I have available. For instance, when her mom was teaching her about the Donner party, they drove up near Tahoe and actually hiked the trail for a while so she could get a feel for it. Those types of activities. Homeschooling at it's best!

    They are also very eager for her to share her experiences with other children, especially girls. This week we will finish her website framework-I'll announce when it's done. She'll blog and make movies/podcasts and have newsletters, etc. We'll meet all the standards with these activities, but she'll be able to connect with other girls her age and feel like she's giving back, too.

    I'm always happy to answer any questions, so let me know if you have any more!
     
  26. Blue

    Blue Aficionado

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    Oh, Jem, how fun. The excitment shows in your writing. What a perfect fit for both of you. My GD is the same age, and it is a fun age--all girly and pink.
     
  27. swansong1

    swansong1 Virtuoso

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    I'm curious how your husband feels about this job, especially when you will be traveling with the family? I can foresee this job taking up a lot of your time. I think mine would be a little bit jealous...he loves to travel!
     
  28. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Becky-dh travels a LOT for his work. Just last night he mentioned he might be in Los Angelos on Wednesday-no big deal. Blech. He works in advertising for Mini Cooper and has to meet with dealerships around the country.

    He's also pretty excited about me working with the mother and father-they are fantastic people with really great connections, and I know they would take care us for if we ever needed ANYTHING, like new jobs, advice, etc (professionally).
     
  29. tracykaliski

    tracykaliski Connoisseur

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    Jem, you sound really happy and excited. I'm looking forward to hearing about your year as it progresses.
     
  30. raneydae

    raneydae Companion

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    Jem, I don't have any particular advice, but 2 1/2 years ago, I also homeschooled a girl, but she actually came over to MY house (I think her parents just wanted her to get out of their house so she could concentrate better). The girl was an actor, so I had to deal with her traveling schedule a lot too, hence why she was homeschooled.

    I LOVED the job though! I would probably be a private homeschool teacher again, if the opportunity was presented to me. Good luck!!
     

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