Fieldnote, 28 Nov. 2012

Music class started a little later than usual. It seems there was another activity already taking place in another part of the library, an aikido class. Sara and I waited for students until about 5:15 then one was directed to us. Her mother inquired about the class and wanted to know more. She was interested, and she informed us her daughter would participate after she complete her aikido class.

This evening I would film some of the games and singing so Sara could use it for her research.

We watched the videos later at home, and I suggested that next time she should conduct the games all in Spanish to see how the students, heritage language learners, would react to her leading them, as well as their comprehension of the instructions. Most of what she did was directing in English with the songs in Spanish.

She had good footage, but most of the language she argued about for heritage language learners happened in English. The songs in Spanish only.


Fieldnote, 19 Nov. 2012

Not many students to tutor today at the library, so I ended up spending most of time wandering around the front area, and also playing games with students who finished their homework.

As I walked in, I noticed the bike rack art project coming around. Unfortunately, I was unable to photograph any of the work because I had little battery life left on my cellphone. I noticed a tutor or perhaps a teacher leading the students in the project taped off the rack via paint by numbers. Students were assigned a single color to work with. I should have asked this leader of the project more about her work, but she seemed very preoccupied with the youth–a group of ten between fourth and sixth grades.

I sat down with two students, Jonathan and Jana, both students at Maxwell Elementary, a bilingual school. We played a game of Jenga with one another. We have fun conversing, and playing. Jana seemed to have the most fun of us all.

I was able to help one student, Jimmy, with his homework, a sixth grader. He was studying biology. I was asked by Miss Elizabeth to help him because she had trouble with some of the science homework. We spoke about bones, muscles, and cells–based on his reading handout. He had to answer short sentence responses to questions based on the reading. The young man had some difficulty reading, but overall he seemed interested in what he was reading. Of course some of the more difficult terms gave him problems in terms of comprehension, but as I broke things down for him he seemed to have a better understanding.

We also spoke of the digestive system. When we spoke of the intestines, I asked him if he ever ate tripas. This led to some talk about different Mexican food, but also where “tripas” go when we eat them. Eventually, Jonathan and Jana (who wandered in and out of the tutoring room to check on me) stopped over to ask what we were talking about.

“You don’t want to know,” Jimmy said.


“Because we’re talking about . . . poop.”

“Gross,” Jana and Jonathan said.

“And tripas,” I said.

I proceeded to tell them about what we were speaking of with Jimmy’s homework. As I was doing this, Jana proceeded to produce a McDonald’s cheeseburger from her backpack. She began to eat it. At this point, Jimmy reviewed some of the nutrition information he had read applied to the burger.

“I think it has proteins in the meat, carbohydrates in the bread, and something with the cheese.”

“Calcium,” I said.

“Yeah. And LOTS OF FAT.”

“That’s the best part,” Jana said.

Fieldnote, 15 Nov. 2012

Today at the school on the Northside I worked with the same students I usually helped, and in addition a few new ones who came to me with math questions.

Ms. C asked me if I would like to lead a Spanish immersion program with some of the students, in conjunction with one of the high school volunteers who also helps out when I’m at the school. I didn’t confirm with her, only because I have a great deal to work on right now and my volunteering hours are already well established. I couldn’t think about how to prepare for a class of fifteen or twenty students. These students especially I would have a difficult time keeping organized, as I have a difficult time trying to reach them, unlike the students at the library.

I have to stop and think about this, what differences do I notice in these two after-school programs? One is very heavy in terms of discipline, but without parental intervention, aside from picking up students. There were no parent volunteers, and I think the staff who help out each get paid. The volunteers come from different places, some the university, and also as high school students. I don’t think I involve myself as much as some of these other tutors, and that may be because I’m new, or really that I’m just not truly a member of the community, at least not yet. Several weeks wouldn’t permit me to claim membership just yet, and only a few hours each week at that.

Nevertheless, I didn’t not follow up with Ms. C about this teaching opportunity, again, because I know it would take up more time that I’m having difficulty parting with. At the same time, my volunteering for this school is limited only to tutoring assistance. This reminds me of my first day tutoring at this school and how I was pushed into a sort of teaching role by Ms. C when I should have only been helping with homework.

As for tutoring on this day, I had a difficult time speaking to some of the students as they seemed to have much more energy than me. I did read with a few, but I don’t think I helped much. One student was especially unruly, and he seemed to be testing my limits. That I didn’t respond to him caused him to try further to push my buttons. Eventually he bored of me, and he left to another group of students. At some point, I heard Ms. C discipline him. As I’m not much into disciplining children, this further cemented my desire not to run a class with these students. The space of the school meant that I would have to instill the same type of “strong” order as Ms. C, and as I just mentioned, that is not my forte.

I finished my two hours of tutoring, and I left quickly. Today was not a day I wanted to spend extra time here.