Support Teacher 101

Pulling children out for extra help can be a tricky area to navigate, writes Arwen Kuttner, reflecting on her first year in a support teacher role. “Elementary age children walk a tightrope between craving the individual attention I can give them, and the fear that others will think less of them for needing that attention. I have to normalize the experience and make them feel good about coming.” Here are some ways she works to accomplish that.

Using (and not using) iPads to teach reading

It’s Arwen Kuttner’s first year with iPads and her first year as a reading support teacher in second grade. Can the iPads help her struggling readers? When it comes to letters and sounds, she’s not willing to trade her multisensory learning techniques for a digital tablet. But creation-based apps could help deepen reading comprehension. “It’s up to me,” she writes, “to know when to use the iPads and when not to, in order to keep learning effective and meaningful.”

Any Classroom in a Storm

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey teacher Arwen Kuttner found herself teaching second graders in the dim light of a family’s living room. After reading the children a picture book from the Pay It Forward Foundation, she asked two questions: “Is there anyone here who has had to help any one else this week?” and “Is there anyone here who has needed help and gotten it?” The answers came pouring out.

Straddling the Natural & Digital Worlds

My daughter’s world and that of my students is dominated by digital media. Within this new world is an abundance of knowledge, networking and possibilities that none of us yet completely understand. I know there is wealth here. Yet sometimes it seems that the screens are blocking our kids’ awareness of natural phenomena, in the same way I become distracted from friends and family when I have an iPad in front of me.