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.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

First Impressions of Service

          I think I should start off by saying my initial thoughts on service were way off base and I actually felt much more comfortable than I expected. I was definitely in the wrong mindset going to the CFL. I was thinking that that our learners wouldn't actually be that interested in learning and that their level of knowledge would all be that of a 4th or 5th grader, as Mark was telling us during our training. That mentality made me very concerned with my ability to be able to teach my learner because of the perception of them all having such a low educational level. I was wrong.
          When I met my learner I was happy to find out she actually already received her GED back in 2003. She made the obligation to come back to the CFL to "sharpen up" on her previous GED skills and wanted more help with paragraph and sentence formation. This devotion my learner has given to herself and her three children gives me even more respect for her and her persistence to better her education. It also gives me more of an initiative to push myself to do my best whenever I go to the CFL.
          The trip to the CFL was a bit more comfortable than the last. I was lucky enough to get a window seat this time and not be forced to sit on a wheel well. On our second trip into the neighborhoods I felt a bit more comfortable than I did on our first trip. I was more aware of where we were and of our surroundings. I feel that the area really isn't as bad as its made out to be. There seems to be a pretty good amount of traffic and activity going through the main streets which I believe contributes to less crime being able to occur. I hope that as the next couple weeks go on we can all become more accustomed and deferential to the neighborhoods.
          On our way home I felt relief. I was happy with our first experience of tutoring at the CFL and I think we can all grow from our first session as we become more familiar with our learners. I can only hope that my learner and I become closer and learn more about one another so we can be as successful as possible over the next academic year.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Expectations at Service

In all honesty, I'm a bit nervous to go to service. I feel that I don't have the patience and skills necessary yet to be a successful tutor. I definitely feel that more practice and training is necessary for me to be able to meet the expectations that CFL sets for its tutor. I also am a bit concerned about the adults we are tutoring. I keep getting that idea that these people are going to be tough, un-accepting individuals that will view us tutors as being privileged, wealthy college kids that are there just to fulfill a class requirement. I guess that if I was in their shoes, I'd feel the same way. 'Why aren't there certified tutors here teaching me instead of these kids?'
I expect the actual building to be some aged and run-down, and that the facility won't have many amenities or resources that will help us to be successful tutors. I have a feeling that the area in which CFL is located will be impoverished and dangerous as well. Coming from my sheltered upstate New York hometown and going to these new areas that are poor and somewhat depressed, is new to me and I feel it's something that I need to learn how to adapt to.
Now I can only hope that come Wednesday, I will have a open-minded and welcoming individual that I can feel comfortable with and tutor to my best abilities.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

A picture around campus

The new freshmen dorm

As I left class Thursday I knew exactly what I wanted to take a picture of on campus and learn more about; the construction. It's all over campus and you can't walk anywhere without being effected by the presence of it. I'm still not positive what this new development is but I thought I heard someone mention a new freshmen dorm that will be opening next year. As you can imagine, I was a little disappointed to hear that being a LaFarge resident. LaFarge is not necessarily the nicest dorm and I was really hoping to live in McShane being the newest dorm. I also heard rumors that due to spacing issues they are planning on tearing down Moore hall this summer to accommodate the new dorm, but that information was coming form another freshmen so I can only speculate the truth of that statement.

Although, I do have some high hopes for what this campus might look like within the next couple years. As much as we may all hate the new construction around campus, one can only imagine what the future of St. Joe's may look like in the coming years. After seeing the sketches of the new library addition, the freshmen dorm, and the new athletic fields, I'm starting to get pretty excited to see and take advantage of the the finished projects when I'll be a junior or senior.

Monday, September 12, 2011

First 12 Observations of SJU

1. I wasn't surprised when we first arrived Monday afternoon and we were greeted by three eager helping upperclassmen. In the past, every time I came here someone was there to help you out; whether it was your first time visiting SJU or your welcome to orientation. I love how supportive and comforting the students and faculty are at St. Joe's.
2. The food, thus far, has been a disappointment. I expected a little more bang for the buck. I'm really starting to regret not getting more declining balance because the crispy chicken sandwich combo is the only  meal I'm liking.
3. The workload really hasn't been that bad. I thought I would be swamped every night up until 2am writing some english paper but the most I've done is a couple blog posts, some math problems and a couple accounting statements.
4. Every day I find the campus more and more enjoyable. I knew I'd love this place from the first step I took onto SJU back in April of last year. The amenities available are awesome. The campus is a good size and the walks between classes are doable. Every once in a while I'll have to pick up the pace walking back from Connelley to Bellermine but other than that I luckily have all my classes on one side of campus.
5. The party scene here is another big disappointment. I've been able to get out four or five times on the weekends but other than that it's pretty boring. It got to a point this weekend where myself and two other suite mates left St. Joe's entirely and headed over to Temple. The party scene there is much more accommodating. I wasn't necessarily planning on wanting to leave on weekends but it's tough for freshmen guys to get into parties. Luckily a high school friend of mine knows a Junior here and we "got the hookup" a couple times over the last weekends.
6. I really wish my sleeping patterns weren't so screwed up. Some days I'll get eleven hours of sleep, others I'll get five or less. I know I should be asleep at 1am but seventh season of The Office has been so addicting the last couple nights.
7. I've never flipped a lanyard around my fingers, wrist, and neck so much in my entire life. They're like binky's for babies.
8. The style around here is very mixed. Although it seems many have similar style to mine, preppyish or athletic. In Loudonville it was always a nice clean looking poise with collared shirts or button downs, so the trends here aren't a surprise.
9. You need to get involved around campus. I discovered boredom is very easy to come by. I plan to join the club tennis team this week, assuming I'll make it. It can be an easy way to meet people with similar interests and a good way to get to know some older kids on campus which has many positives.
10. The construction around campus is a bit of a disturbance. I live in LaFarge and the noise of early morning construction is never a pleasant sound to wake up to.
11. Friends are easy to come by. Be friendly and talkative and you won't have a problem meeting people. Everyones nice around here and everyones looking to make new friends, so were all in the same boat with meeting new people.
12. I'm going to have a lot more responsibilities as a college student. I need to do well; not just for myself but for the my parents sake, after all a $50,000 for tuition is something I don't want to screw up.