Building Confident Learners
Quite simply, Miss B’s removed key barriers which hold back children in poverty and keep them from achieving success in school.
All students have areas of learning at which they do not excel. If they have not fully comprehended and grasped the material, no amount of homework is going to help. And if they haven’t gained proficiency in foundational concepts – like deciphering words, multiplication tables and the like, they cannot build more advanced skills. All too often, they fall behind, their self-esteem suffers and eventually they are at risk of dropping out.
Students who fall behind in school need a diagnosis of what skills they have failed to learn, followed by the time and supportive attention of a learning mentor, and a curriculum that allows them to complete the gaps in their learning and achieve mastery of the material. Not surprisingly, along the way their self-esteem increases, they take pride in showing off their newly learned skills to their family and teachers at school. They see a path to academic success; they begin to dream about their future and what they can accomplish. . . and they keep moving forward to graduation.
At Miss B’s volunteer mentors work intensely and closely with individual students to learn the material they are missing in school. After school, each student works with their mentor following an Individual Action Plan (IAP). Laptops and internet connectivity are provided to all students while they are working with mentors and they can access and progress on their IAP at home and on the weekends. All the student’s progress is tracked electronically and data on their IAP progress is available to their mentors and their parents or guardians. When children receive the support and the attention of adult partners working to support them, they blossom. Their smallest successes are recognized and heralded. They begin to believe that they can master their schoolwork.
Achieving Reading Proficiency
Mateo would literally beat himself in the head because he thought he was dumb. By first grade, he was not reading and was in danger of being held back. As a child of Columbian immigrants, Mateo’s first language was not English and he needed intensive work to both improve his self-esteem and bring him up to grade level. Miss B’s worked with him all year and all summer into 2nd grade. Eventually he was able to read an entire page. . . and then an entire book. By the time he took the 3rd-grade exam, Mateo was a confident learner and passed on the first try.
Math to the Second Power
Jalissa is a 2nd generation Miss B’s learner. Her Mom was one of the original students around Miss B’s kitchen table. She made it through high school and is now married. Mom works full time and struggles to parent Jalissa alone while her husband is in jail. When Jalissa started to struggle with math – Mom was there to help her. But instead of teaching her math skills – Mom completed her homework for her! She could solve the problems but could not explain to her daughter how to do it.
In 3rd grade Jalissa was retained twice before she came to Miss B’s. The first day she was taught how to complete her math homework. She was so excited to tell her Mom how she’d calculated the answers herself.
Creating Confidence in Speaking and Learning
Antoine – a native Creole speaker from Haiti – he came to Miss’s B’s as a 3rd grader with very limited speech and no self-confidence. The idea of wanting to learn anything overwhelmed him. Working with Miss B’s Antoine has developed the confidence and the focus to become an independent learner and is on level for sixth grade.