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Mentor #1

Mentor #1 with mentee SD

Mentor #1 with mentee CD

Date of meeting: 3/2/18

CD seems pretty closed off. He responds to questions very quietly but I’m glad he actually answers at all. We worked on a geometry “quiz” where the goal was to go over each question either in a group or solo and then call over the teacher to explain it to her once you or your group understand all the question/answers. It took all of the time I had with him to finish the worksheet. Each of the questions was solving for missing angles based on a given picture with some of the angles given. We went through each question very slowly and I asked him very specific questions to try to get him on the right track. Ultimately, I felt like I ended up giving him the final step that actually led to the answer to the question. At the minimum, I gave him way too many of the steps for him to fully understand what was going on. I realized that CD was missing the basic algebra required to do the angle solving. When I asked him how he did in algebra, he answered “I passed”; later the counselor told me that he actually didn’t have a grade in algebra and he might simply be unaware of what had happened in that class. Throughout the worksheet I asked him if he understood what we had just done and each time he very quietly affirmatively grunted. At some points when he was stuck, he would ask me how to do the problem, so this might suggest that given appropriate help/guidance he will actively attempt to do problems. Overall, he didn’t seem averse to do the worksheet but wasn’t excited to do it either. Because of this (i.e. his willingness to at least try), I think progress can be made, however slowly.

 

Date of meeting: 3/12/2018 

This day was quite surreal. I got to the school much earlier this time around and walked into the mostly empty classroom (the student population might just be low or many simply don’t go to class) and found that there was no teacher. I asked CD what was going on and he said that they were waiting for the substitute. While waiting I pointed out how the classroom trash bin was overflowing; CD added that the janitor only really cleans the halls and that the water has lead in it. He went on to explain that a lot of people end up leaving the school because of its various problems and that he too is going to move where his mom lives. We sat around for probably 15 minutes and I decided to tell CD that we should just do whatever other work that he had, but he said that he had none. The board said to do worksheets but I didn’t see them anywhere and didn’t bother digging deeper to find them. I was getting restless at this point so I decided to go to the main office to let them know that the class had been waiting for a teacher for over 20 minutes. The lady there told me that they were missing 8 teachers today and were cut pretty thin and that I should continue waiting but letting me know that the teacher is amazing and always has a worksheet for the class to do; she wasn’t wrong but the worksheet was nowhere to be found.

I could have just gone back up and waited since the sub did end up coming within the next 10 minutes, but I think I didn’t want to go back to a near empty classroom. Eventually, I made my way back to the classroom where the sub had just arrived and was distributing the worksheets. CD and I had about 30 minutes of reasonable working time but the classroom was crazy. There were conversations happening very loudly across the room, people were on their phones, laughing, etc. They were generally being extremely disturbing and a minority were actually doing their worksheets. After that 30-ish minutes, suddenly another boy decided to sit next to me and start calling CD “mentally retarded.” I couldn’t tell if they were friends and he was being ironic, but CD didn’t respond, so, of course, I was just really confused. I decided to move to an adjacent classroom where the teacher was very accommodating. I continued to work with CD and the “mentally retarded” boy eventually appeared in the class and might have spouted it out again but quickly found his friends and didn’t directly disturb us any more.

CD consistently asked me what time it was and around 5 minutes before the period ended, he said he needed to go to the bathroom and asked me to write him a pass; I told him to get a pass from the teacher. He did and I asked him if he would be coming back; he said yes but I already knew he was lying and he was. I turned in his worksheets, one of which we actually managed to finish but the other had hardly been scratched, and went back to Berkeley after forgetting to sign out on the sign in sheet (I’ll remember next time).

Overall this was quite the experience and I really enjoyed it even if I got pretty annoyed at times. With CD telling me that he will be moving away, we might not see the fruits of our work but surely it’s good practice to apply to someone else along the line. I think simply being able to do this is giving me an educational experience that few of my peers will ever have and that will profoundly influence my attempts to address the underlying issues at a more macro level later on in my life.

 

Date of meeting: 3/16/2018  

I had a midterm right before so I got to the class a little late but they had just started taking a test. I asked the teacher if it was okay for me to help CD take the test and she said it was fine. We worked through all the problems in the same style that we have been, where I give him very generous hints on how to go about things. I honestly can’t tell how much he is really absorbing but he might possibly have a better grasp on the algebra related to geometry at this point. The problem with testing his understanding is that it seems like he would rather just blankly stare at the problems than actually attempt them himself, so my being there might be the only reason he’s actually doing work at all. For example, one thing he knows for sure is that “bisects” means “cuts in half” but he can’t apply that concept to the geometry by himself.

Also at one point very early on, the boy who had called CD “mentally retarded” last week made his way to our group of tables, but the teacher quickly noticed this and told him he couldn’t sit there; so clearly, having the actual teacher present instead of a substitute is cause for generally better behavior from the class.

After we got through all the problems and I checked it a few times to make sure he would get 100%, there were still 20 minutes remaining in the period so I asked CD if he had any more work and told him that he should utilize me for help while I was there. Even after some light prodding, he continued to deny having any more work so I decided that I might as well have a conversation with him. First, I mentioned that it was quite a coincidence that he and I had an exam on the same day. I then attempted to explain to him the concept of exams being graded on a curve, but he didn’t seem interested, but brought up how his older brother had that sort of thing when he went to college. I asked him what his brother did and he said that his brother had recently joined the army. When I asked if he knew why his brother would join the army, he said it was to escape from their mother who he had lived with while commuting to college. He assured me that since his brother was simply living and working on an army base, his brother was not in active combat or anything and was not at risk of being killed. I asked him if he would ever join the army and he said no because he doesn’t “believe” in that sort of stuff. I dug a little deeper but it fell off.

Next, I asked him what he is going to do after school today and he said he was going to play video games. I’m pretty knowledgeable on video games in general having played them my entire life, so this was a great in. I asked him why he enjoyed the specific games he played and he said he likes the “open world” and being able to “do whatever you want” so clearly he is using the games as some sort of escape. I recommended him some games he should check out and then mentioned that one could play games on computers at much higher qualities than on game consoles and explained (at a very high level) the computer hardware that made this possible and how it actually changed the game. He seemed interested so I also told him that I had built a computer at around his age and he commented about the initial investment being really high but it seemed like he was thinking about it. At this point class ended.

 

3/23/2018  Mentee was absent.

3/30/2018  School was closed.

4/6/2018  School was closed.

4/13/2018  Mentee was not at school.

4/20/2018  Mentee was not at school.

 

Date of meeting: 4/27/2018 

We started out doing a warmup which was half similar triangles and half Pythagorean theorem. CD seemed super disinterested during the warmup and we couldn’t finish before the newly hired math teacher who was sitting in on class went over the problems, so I just told him to listen to the explanations.        

For the rest of the time (1 hour-ish), we worked on a worksheet that consisted of maybe 15 Pythagorean theorem problems where you had to solve for the missing side length of a right triangle. It started out really slow and I had to dictate the steps of the algebra required to solve for the missing side; but after a few of the problems he started seeing the patterns and was able to write out the initial equation out by himself with a few exponents missing here and there. I’d say for the best instance, he was able to do close to 70% of the problem by himself, which I was pretty glad to see. Also, during simple arithmetic calculations, I was able to finally confirm his ability to do long addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. So, I finally know that although CD continues to struggle with the more conceptual parts of algebra, he does have some foundation in its basic building blocks, so there’s no reason that more can’t be built on top.

There was nothing really special about the worksheet, just a bunch of Pythagorean theorem problems like I said, and the entire period was over pretty quickly.

 

May 4 – Mentor couldn’t be there.

May 11 – Mentor couldn’t be there.

Date of meeting: 3/2/18

CD seems pretty closed off. He responds to questions very quietly but I’m glad he actually answers at all. We worked on a geometry “quiz” where the goal was to go over each question either in a group or solo and then call over the teacher to explain it to her once you or your group understand all the question/answers. It took all of the time I had with him to finish the worksheet. Each of the questions was solving for missing angles based on a given picture with some of the angles given. We went through each question very slowly and I asked him very specific questions to try to get him on the right track. Ultimately, I felt like I ended up giving him the final step that actually led to the answer to the question. At the minimum, I gave him way too many of the steps for him to fully understand what was going on. I realized that CD was missing the basic algebra required to do the angle solving. When I asked him how he did in algebra, he answered “I passed”; later the counselor told me that he actually didn’t have a grade in algebra and he might simply be unaware of what had happened in that class. Throughout the worksheet I asked him if he understood what we had just done and each time he very quietly affirmatively grunted. At some points when he was stuck, he would ask me how to do the problem, so this might suggest that given appropriate help/guidance he will actively attempt to do problems. Overall, he didn’t seem averse to do the worksheet but wasn’t excited to do it either. Because of this (i.e. his willingness to at least try), I think progress can be made, however slowly.

 

Date of meeting: 3/12/2018 

This day was quite surreal. I got to the school much earlier this time around and walked into the mostly empty classroom (the student population might just be low or many simply don’t go to class) and found that there was no teacher. I asked CD what was going on and he said that they were waiting for the substitute. While waiting I pointed out how the classroom trash bin was overflowing; CD added that the janitor only really cleans the halls and that the water has lead in it. He went on to explain that a lot of people end up leaving the school because of its various problems and that he too is going to move where his mom lives. We sat around for probably 15 minutes and I decided to tell CD that we should just do whatever other work that he had, but he said that he had none. The board said to do worksheets but I didn’t see them anywhere and didn’t bother digging deeper to find them. I was getting restless at this point so I decided to go to the main office to let them know that the class had been waiting for a teacher for over 20 minutes. The lady there told me that they were missing 8 teachers today and were cut pretty thin and that I should continue waiting but letting me know that the teacher is amazing and always has a worksheet for the class to do; she wasn’t wrong but the worksheet was nowhere to be found.

I could have just gone back up and waited since the sub did end up coming within the next 10 minutes, but I think I didn’t want to go back to a near empty classroom. Eventually, I made my way back to the classroom where the sub had just arrived and was distributing the worksheets. CD and I had about 30 minutes of reasonable working time but the classroom was crazy. There were conversations happening very loudly across the room, people were on their phones, laughing, etc. They were generally being extremely disturbing and a minority were actually doing their worksheets. After that 30-ish minutes, suddenly another boy decided to sit next to me and start calling CD “mentally retarded.” I couldn’t tell if they were friends and he was being ironic, but CD didn’t respond, so, of course, I was just really confused. I decided to move to an adjacent classroom where the teacher was very accommodating. I continued to work with CD and the “mentally retarded” boy eventually appeared in the class and might have spouted it out again but quickly found his friends and didn’t directly disturb us any more.

CD consistently asked me what time it was and around 5 minutes before the period ended, he said he needed to go to the bathroom and asked me to write him a pass; I told him to get a pass from the teacher. He did and I asked him if he would be coming back; he said yes but I already knew he was lying and he was. I turned in his worksheets, one of which we actually managed to finish but the other had hardly been scratched, and went back to Berkeley after forgetting to sign out on the sign in sheet (I’ll remember next time).

Overall this was quite the experience and I really enjoyed it even if I got pretty annoyed at times. With CD telling me that he will be moving away, we might not see the fruits of our work but surely it’s good practice to apply to someone else along the line. I think simply being able to do this is giving me an educational experience that few of my peers will ever have and that will profoundly influence my attempts to address the underlying issues at a more macro level later on in my life.

 

Date of meeting: 3/16/2018  

I had a midterm right before so I got to the class a little late but they had just started taking a test. I asked the teacher if it was okay for me to help CD take the test and she said it was fine. We worked through all the problems in the same style that we have been, where I give him very generous hints on how to go about things. I honestly can’t tell how much he is really absorbing but he might possibly have a better grasp on the algebra related to geometry at this point. The problem with testing his understanding is that it seems like he would rather just blankly stare at the problems than actually attempt them himself, so my being there might be the only reason he’s actually doing work at all. For example, one thing he knows for sure is that “bisects” means “cuts in half” but he can’t apply that concept to the geometry by himself.

Also at one point very early on, the boy who had called CD “mentally retarded” last week made his way to our group of tables, but the teacher quickly noticed this and told him he couldn’t sit there; so clearly, having the actual teacher present instead of a substitute is cause for generally better behavior from the class.

After we got through all the problems and I checked it a few times to make sure he would get 100%, there were still 20 minutes remaining in the period so I asked CD if he had any more work and told him that he should utilize me for help while I was there. Even after some light prodding, he continued to deny having any more work so I decided that I might as well have a conversation with him. First, I mentioned that it was quite a coincidence that he and I had an exam on the same day. I then attempted to explain to him the concept of exams being graded on a curve, but he didn’t seem interested, but brought up how his older brother had that sort of thing when he went to college. I asked him what his brother did and he said that his brother had recently joined the army. When I asked if he knew why his brother would join the army, he said it was to escape from their mother who he had lived with while commuting to college. He assured me that since his brother was simply living and working on an army base, his brother was not in active combat or anything and was not at risk of being killed. I asked him if he would ever join the army and he said no because he doesn’t “believe” in that sort of stuff. I dug a little deeper but it fell off.

Next, I asked him what he is going to do after school today and he said he was going to play video games. I’m pretty knowledgeable on video games in general having played them my entire life, so this was a great in. I asked him why he enjoyed the specific games he played and he said he likes the “open world” and being able to “do whatever you want” so clearly he is using the games as some sort of escape. I recommended him some games he should check out and then mentioned that one could play games on computers at much higher qualities than on game consoles and explained (at a very high level) the computer hardware that made this possible and how it actually changed the game. He seemed interested so I also told him that I had built a computer at around his age and he commented about the initial investment being really high but it seemed like he was thinking about it. At this point class ended.

 

3/23/2018  Mentee was absent.

3/30/2018  School was closed.

4/6/2018  School was closed.

4/13/2018  Mentee was not at school.

4/20/2018  Mentee was not at school.

 

Date of meeting: 4/27/2018 

We started out doing a warmup which was half similar triangles and half Pythagorean theorem. CD seemed super disinterested during the warmup and we couldn’t finish before the newly hired math teacher who was sitting in on class went over the problems, so I just told him to listen to the explanations.        

For the rest of the time (1 hour-ish), we worked on a worksheet that consisted of maybe 15 Pythagorean theorem problems where you had to solve for the missing side length of a right triangle. It started out really slow and I had to dictate the steps of the algebra required to solve for the missing side; but after a few of the problems he started seeing the patterns and was able to write out the initial equation out by himself with a few exponents missing here and there. I’d say for the best instance, he was able to do close to 70% of the problem by himself, which I was pretty glad to see. Also, during simple arithmetic calculations, I was able to finally confirm his ability to do long addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. So, I finally know that although CD continues to struggle with the more conceptual parts of algebra, he does have some foundation in its basic building blocks, so there’s no reason that more can’t be built on top.

There was nothing really special about the worksheet, just a bunch of Pythagorean theorem problems like I said, and the entire period was over pretty quickly.

 

May 4 – Mentor couldn’t be there.

May 11 – Mentor couldn’t be there.

Interested in mentoring for Oakland Serves?

We ask all our mentors to submit a weekly mentoring report to track the progress of their mentee(s). Here are excerpts from a few of those reports. 

 

All names have been anonymized and assigned to a number (i.e. Mentor #1) or random two letter initials.