Analysis and Synthesis
The student I chose for my case study is a fifth grade student at a suburban elementary school located in New Jersey, for this case study we will call him Joe. Joe is a 10 year old Hispanic boy who is relatively small in size for his age. Both mom and dad work during the day, and he has two younger step-sisters ages eight. Joe enjoys playing with his numerous lizards and his dog. He told me that when he is not helping his mom at home he loves to play his PS4.
Among his class of 21 students he is one of 8 who leave for extra reading instruction each morning and he is the only one who leaves for speech therapy twice a week. Joe is a bright student but barely utters a word, when he does speak, it is usually a whisper.
During his out of class instruction and in class instruction Joe barely speaks, he is willing to do the work when asked, but he never raises his hand with eagerness. While observing him during my visits I have notice that he usually is behind with seatwork and following the teachers’ instructions. I am unsure if it is his lack of focus or if he really is not understanding the instruction. Upon further collaboration with the teacher showed me he is in Tier 2 for both Reading and Math, which might indicate why he is slower than the average student.
After talking with Joe’s Homeroom teacher, speech teacher and pull-out reading teacher I found that all three teachers have some concerns; they all feel he lacks motivation, and needs to be able to articulate more, and they need to bring his confidence up. All three suggested that if these points were dealt with and he came out of his shell, his reading and math would start to improve as well because he would feel more confident about school and schoolwork in general.
To help him further with speech his current speech therapist is working with his articulation, mainly his r’s and with his social skills. Also, his pull out reading teacher allows each child to conduct the reading group each week, as she pretends to be a student. This makes them have to speak as they need to teach the other children. Here main goal is to have the children in the reading group be able to read the story, comprehend the story and answer questions about the story. She does this with vocabulary words and phonics. She also uses think and respond questions.
Finally the teacher allowed me to see his grades for the first semester; they were below average in reading and math. His grades in both areas seem to be relatively the same and average over a period of time, towards the end of the semester his grades did seem to rise a bit. I think with time and constant structure his grades will keep rising.
One day I walked with Joe to his pullout reading group, in his speech therapy, and sat beside him the entire time by student observed. At the end of the day, I decided to give Joe a simple reflection pyramid paper and asked him to fill it out.
The questions included:
- important things to remember
- things you want to know more about
- things that you already knew
- things you learned
The paper is shaped in a pyramid and easy enough for Joe to simply fill in a one sentence answer to the questions above. As I administered the reflection pyramid Joe seemed very apprehensive and did not know what to write or confused at how to answer the questions. I explained to him that this was for me only and no one needed to know.
During the day as we walked around, I explained to him how I had speech therapy throughout my entire elementary years and how much he reminded me of me. I too was very afraid to talk and barely ever answered a question in class. I also explained to Joe that my daughter has trouble with her confidence in trying things that are different. I told him the mantra that I had given to my daughter for times when she is really scared. “I am brave, I am strong, and I can do anything.” When I explained this to him he seemed a little calmer and seemed to feel safe with me knowing his true self.
It seems that the most important thing to remember for Joe is that he is not unintelligent and can do anything the other children can do as long as he believes he can; he has very low self esteem. It also seems that Joe wants to know more about how to talk and not being so afraid.
Both parents are very eager to help Joe and have been to any teacher conferences needed in the past; however they are unwilling to allow Joe to join any social groups in school that might him come out of his shell just a bit. A social group might help Joe start to speak up and engage him a little more, but as stated earlier both parents agreed that a social group is not the way they would like to go. Either they do not understand why or do not believe this is the one way to help him.
Because we only had one week to do the case study and were not sure of the sect format until the week before it was impossible for me to call the parents and as for any kind of intervention, mainly because I did not know that I would need to do an intervention. But as I was talking with Joe during the only day I was able to gather information and talk with him, as well as work with him I began explaining to him a little bit about myself, and why I chose him.
As explained earlier, I too had a speech impediment, and was petrified to talk, my social skills were nonexistent, and I was afraid that Joe would end up like me; petrified of people in the world end of school, waiting for them to bully me at any time. We talked about my life in school and he talked a little bit about his life in school. It seems that he’s not as bully as I was, and I am thankful for that.
Social skills: Joe does need to come out of his shell, and feel more confident. That is why I gave him the mantra that I have used for very long with my own daughter. “I am brave, I am strong, and I can do anything.” I explained to him that when you start to get very upset, or afraid to talk, take several deep breaths to calm down, almost like meditating, and say the mantra several times over and over again in your head. We tried the mantra in the breathing altogether several times, and it did seem to relax him.
We also talked about maybe him joining a sports team out of school, or maybe a club inside of school, this will give him the resources needed to join in with the social group and begin to try to be sociable.
Because I only have one week to do a case study, and not the entire 7 weeks I will not have the pleasure to know if my mantra helped or if Joe has joined any social groups. I would love to be able to contact the school and asked Mrs. Capozzi how Joe is doing in about 7 weeks. This should be enough adequate time to see if he has began to be more sociable or if he is joined any groups.
For the last 2 years I have something to talk in several different school districts, and I have parent volunteered in my daughter’s school for 3 years. I am quite used to working with a diverse background of students, but did not expect to meet a student with a kindred spirit. As I was walking along with Joe the only day I was able to do a case study, I tried very hard not to cry as I was talking to him. This brought back feelings of when I was a child and feelings of parent who desperately wants to protect their child. I can just imagine this fifth-grader, who knew nothing about me, only having one day to get to know me and come out of his shell.
For most children this might not have been a problem, but for someone like Joe this was a big problem. I wish I had known about the case study at the beginning of the class so I would’ve started a rapport the entire 7 weeks of our field study. Overall I found working with a group of 5th graders as my 1st field study to be very rewarding. They asked if I would come back and substitute teach, or become their teacher when they get to the higher grades. That alone is rewarding enough and makes me want to become a teacher even more.