Saturday, April 14, 2012

Frustrations at Service

          My overall experience at service was a good one. I like to think I gained some character through the times I spent there tutoring my two different learners. I must admit though, at times, I found myself frustrated with the program and saw it as a more of a stress than an opportunity to help others.

          I was confused as to the reason why we were asked to come into service when our learner wasn't going to show, or for that matter, why we couldn't leave service early if they never came. Spending all that time sitting there, most of the time doing nothing, can get really boring. I experienced several instances where my learners never called into service ahead of time to tell Mark or Scott that they weren't going to make it; so I would go to service with no work to do for myself because I would be under the impression that they would be there. That brings up another point, I think there definitely could have been better communication between Saint Joe's and the CFL. I found it hard to get into contact with Mark and Scott when I wasn't able to make it into service and it was a confusing process as to whom I should've been contacting when I wasn't going to make it. I think there should be better collaboration between Saint Joe's and the CFL for next years program to give the tutors a better understanding of what is to be expected from both organizations.

          I also must complain about the length of each session at the CFL. Three hours is just too long. I found that during many sessions with my learners they were tired and uninterested in the work we were doing. I felt like we were just going through the motions from 6:30 on and I was just pushing the work on the learner. Focusing on just math and reading for three hours straight can tire anyone out, especially me after having 3 hour and a half classes before I went to the CFL. I think that two hours would suffice for next years program. I think tutors and learners would find that manageable and long enough to keep them both interested in teaching and learning.

          I don't know if I can say I would take another service course again. I found it very time consuming and, as I said, a bit stressful. The workload really starts to pile on at the end of the semesters and having service every Wednesday from 4 to 7:45 makes it a lot more stressful to complete other assignments. I may reconsider if the time for these programs were shortened.

Monday, February 20, 2012

What am I called to do?

          I feel that my day has yet to come where I can say I really know what I've been 'called to do' here on earth. I think that everyone has been put here to do something meaningful and everyone has some duty that they must fulfill in their time on earth. My belief tells me that there is some higher power out there and I like to think that that higher being has some plan in store for me. It's comforting at times to be able to think that I'm here to do something important and gives me the strength at times to push on with whatever I'm doing, especially when times are tough. I like to think that someday my role will be beneficial to society and that I can help whomever with the gifts or talents I received from god.
          I think that graduating from St. Joseph's will be a good start to my journey of finding what I've been called to do. I think this university has great educational and spiritual values that will benefit me in the real world. I think that this school will give me a start in dealing with new situations where I can practice harboring my skills and give me more ability to find that 'calling'.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

New Semester at Service

          I took some time over break to reflect on the past couple months with my learner. I have been very proud of all the accomplishments my learner and I have made together. I have been looking forward to this next semester of service with my learner and expect that we will make similar progress to what we made last. Her reading and math skills improved dramatically since we first started. She has no problem completing complex fractions, percents, long division etc. When we first started looking at these complex math questions, she pretended to know nothing about the problem and wanted me to take her through each step. But as we worked through these problems she began to remember how to do everything and is able to complete most problems on her own. Wednesday, she needed a quick reminder of how to do a few fraction problems but she quickly remembered how to do them and didn't need any assistance. It has been very gratifying to see her succeed over the last couple months and I expect even more successes in the coming semester.
          I think I have been lucky to have the same learner for the last two semesters. She has a lot of dedication to her education and shows interest in learning new things. It makes my job a whole lot easier when my tutor actually wants to learn. We have grown close to each other and we have a good understanding of one other. I have a good sense of how she goes about her work now and I have learned the best ways to teach her new material through our time we've had together. I could see how it would be very difficult to adapt to a new learner every month or semester as some of the other tutors have had to do. I hope that my learner remains with the CFL for the next couple weeks and we continue our success in the next semester.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Semester Reflection

          So far, the last couple months of tutoring with my learner have been going quite well. We have bonded well together and have become closer as tutor and learner. This bonding has helped us better understand each other and has increased our potential to work together as a team. I think we have achieved a lot so far. I am happy with all of our progress and I believe my learner has been pleased with everything we've done. We've already blown through two thirty page mathematics book and we are almost finished with two other reading and writing workbooks.

          When we first met, my learner specified that she wanted to focus mainly on improving her mathematics skills along with sentence and paragraph formation. Since then, we have focused mainly on building these skills and I have seen a great improvement. She has done well with the mathematics but is still uneasy when it comes to writing. I remembered when we first started writing, I asked her to write a little about herself and her family. She was very hesitant and nervous to show me her writing abilities. I was trying to get a good evaluation of where she stood as a writer but it was hard because of her disinterest in writing. As we progressed through the following weeks I realized that her ability to write was there but she struggled to get these ideas down and paper and express her thoughts. So, we started working on brainstorming her thoughts. We practiced outlining and I showed her different ways to get her ideas, which she all had in her head, down on paper. This was something she was never shown before and found this new outlining conception to be extremely useful. This strategy has improved her ability to write dramatically and she can now formulate long paragraphs and sentences all on her own.

          As we head into the next semester I plan to continue our success at the CFL and strengthen my learners ability to write and complete more complex math problems. I think we have grown together as a tutor and learner and this has enabled us to work on more and more things and complete material at a faster rate. I look forward to the coming weeks and am excited to see the growth in my learners ability as we work on more challenging material.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

CFL Object

          The object that I noticed today, and really never realized that my learner, R, had carried with her before to service, was her blue handbag that she puts all her material in. I like to think of that blue handbag as a representation of her continued drive in her learning expedition and the push it gives her to get a better overall knowledge of math, reading and writing. In the bag, she has her six workbooks that she borrowed from her cousin that went to the CFL last year. She cherishes these books and always makes sure to do a count at the conclusion of each session to make sure she's never missing any. When I first saw these books, I never thought much of them. To me, they were just any other workbook someone could pick-up at the library or some other writing center. The books were used and had some of the exercises were already done. When she first opened them up, back in September, I was saddened by the fact that I would have to tell her that those wouldn't do us any good in teaching her new material; but I was wrong. As she flipped through, she showed me that many pages toward the back weren't filled out and she told me that those were the problems she wanted to work on, the hard ones her cousin never finished. So we began looking at some of the sentences and math problems. We started out slow but now she's doing well and is speeding though all the unfinished problems.
          Today, as my learner and I continue our learning experience, I realize the importance and value each one of those books has to her. Over the last couple weeks I've noticed a dramatic change in R's ability to complete fraction problems and form her own paragraphs and sentences; and I credit those six books to being the primary factor that has helped her succeed so much over the last coupe sessions.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Midterm Reflection

          I remember when I first started applying to all these different colleges, trying to narrow it down to at least ten that I thought would be a good fit for me. When I applied to St. Joe's, I really didn't know much about it and was it was really a last minute school I applied to. I heard a couple good things about it form my guidance counselor and some other kids who visited the school before me so that gave me a push to go see what it was like. I was unsure about St. Joe's when I first came here. I didn't get a good feel for the students here and what the environment was around campus. It was a cold rainy weekend and no one was around which put the campus in a bad light for the first visit.
          Then came orientation. I was so nervous at first, not knowing where anything was and feeling lost with the size of the campus stretching over two towns. But I felt more at ease thinking about how everyone else was in the same boat; feeling nervous and kind of lost. As orientation went on, I felt a lot more comfortable with the school and everything it was about, the mission here, what the other students were like, the different classes available, etc.
          As the day got closer to our first day, I never felt more anxious. I was so excited to leave my hometown and experience the big city of Philadelphia. The city was one of the main reasons for coming to St. Joe's along with the well-regardeed business school. Along with the feeling of anxiousness, I was feeling nervous about meeting my roommate and other suitemates. I wasn't so eager to leave behind my countless high school friends I've known for the past 6 years and go make new ones who I'd be forced to live with the next year. But, this necessity to make new friends is good because you push yourself to step out of your comfort zone and experience new people and interacting in different ways around them.
          I feel that I have grown dramatically. Learning how to live on my own has pushed me to do things I couldn't have imagined doing before in high school. Taking a 5 hour train to and from Philly from my hometown? I never would have thought about doing this on my own as a nineteen year old. I was so nervous to think about having to take a train, stopping at Penn Station and figuring out what to do with no prior experience. I feel that these couple travel instances alone have helped me adapt and learn what the real world is like. No parents around telling you what to do or holding your hand and directing you down the right path.
          There's definitely so much more to learn though. I'll be turning 20 in about nine months and sometimes I think to myself that there can't be much more that I don't already know. Yet, everyday I find something new and experience things I never would've imagined. Traveling on SEPTA to some town called Ardmore to an apple store to fix a broken computer screen!; definitely something I wasn't expecting to do alone as a college freshmen. But, I'm excited for what my future at St. Joe's holds for me and I can't wait to experience these next couple years!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Rosa Lee

          In part seven of Rosa Lee, we learn about some serious prostitution scandals that occurred within the family, mainly revolving around Patty and Rosa. I was shocked to read about how young Patty was when Rosa first started prostituting her to men in the neighborhood and other drug dealers. I thought the details of the encounters between Patty and the men Rosa brought home were too graphic and sickening to read about. Patty shows that she has a true care for her mother and really looked up to her. She claimed in the interviews with Mr. Dash that everything she was doing prostitution wise was for her mother. She also didn't want to let her down or fail her in making more money for the family, even if it did come to having sex with a man that was fifty years old and continued to get hurt by all the encounters. I blame Rosa entirely for getting Patty involved with this situation because of her irresponsibility and lack of consideration for her daughter when she would bring men home. It's just so wrong to commit any sexual act in the same bed as your eight year old child; let alone prostitute her for sex at the age of eleven to forty year old men. I became even more frustrated and disturbed with the family when they began to set up abortion scams with their "customers." I think that this is totally immoral whether they're trying to put food on the table or not. This continuing cycle of drugs and prostitution is still indefinitely occurring within the family but yet nothing is being done to prevent this from happening again in the next generation (being Patty). Rosa seems to make points at times that she will change and leave this lifestyle or drugs and prostitution but she does nothing to help her own children. She carelessly allows Patty to continue her prostitution of unprotected sex and encourages the drug lifestyle by a means of a way to make money.

          So far, I haven't been able to make any connections with this book to service with my learner, R. I think she seems to live an honorable life and has a lot of dignity, unlike Rosa and her family. She puts fourth the effort to come to service everyday and took the initiative to come to back to the CFL to work on her reading and writing skills to try and get into a local community college. She manages to balance her time between the three hour tutoring sessions every Wednesday night and a Thursday night computer course she takes at another CFL type program. She also is able to find time to raise her four boys as a single parent which I give her the utmost respect for her being able to do.