Students get homework done and move ahead in their classes by adding one to two hours to the school day.
When the dismissal bell rings at Indian Trails Middle School there are some students who head for after school study hall and tutoring. These children are not being punished, in many cases they have asked to be included in the extra school time.
“We have kids that have A’s in their classes that come to help other kids or they want to take their studies to the next level,” Katie Crooke, ITMS teacher support colleague, said. “That’s really prominent with our high school math classes. Those kids come whether they have an A or C. They are there to do their homework, they’re asking questions and if they are all done they move on and help their peers.”
Part of the reason the students may not feel like they are missing anything by staying at school longer may have to do with the early dismissal time of 1:30 p.m.
“Parents are at work, their siblings are still at school so a lot of kids don’t have much to do,” Crooke said. “When they leave at 3:30 their homework and studying is done so they have the rest of the night. Many play sports.”
Crooke has faith in the program because she’s seen it make a difference.
“We had a student come in last year with low academics which fostered behavioral concerns,” she said. “That’s common when they are struggling and frustrated.”
Crooke spoke with the student and the seventh-grade girl chose to take her lunch to a classroom to work on her studies with a teacher.
“She was highly in danger of failing,” Crooke said. “She asked to be pulled from her elective so she could work in the learning lab and came after school.”
Crooke beams as if it were her own child she was talking about, as she tells the happy ending of the story. Now an eighth-grade student, she has A’s and B’s and has not been back to the discipline office.
“Her charisma can fill a room, she’s a fantastic little girl,” Crooke said.
The numbers of students participating increases as tests near.
“Right now tutoring numbers are pretty high because we have quarterlies coming up in all of their subjects,” Crooke said. “Now we are averaging 15 to 25 kids. At the end of the year and when state testing comes it triples and we have 60 to 70 kids.”
For one after-school tutor, Kelly Lynn, the day doesn’t always end with the after-school program. Once she gets her own children in bed she is online for anyone looking for more help or practice.
“Students that can’t stay after school have the option to meet me virtually on Blackboard for tutoring,” Lynn said. “Whether it’s homework or exams I normally do it once a week and on weekends. They like Saturday mornings and Sunday night.”
Blackboard is a webinar format, a virtual white board that allows the students to hear Lynn, and see her if they want.
“It’s me writing problems and explaining stuff same as face to face,” she said. “There’s a chat so they can ask questions and the sessions are recorded so they can go back to a session if they missed it or maybe I moved too fast for some students.”
Schoology, a classroom online management system, complements the after-hour studies by providing a method for students, and parents, to get class notes, assignments and send messages.
“It takes away missing assignments if the student is absent or missed school,” Crooke said. “It helps them stay right on track. Every teacher has a Schoology account.”
Lynn often brings a personal aspect to the online tutoring when her four- and eight-year-olds say hello before going to bed, or the students get to see her dogs.
“They see my dogs and it brings that relationship to a whole other level. It’s my time I am giving to them and they know that and they appreciate that,” Lynn said. “At school they have to be here between 7:20 and 1:25 they don’t have to be online with me at 8 at night. They know how important it is to be a part of that and to be serious because it’s my time.”