Never Let a Chance Go By ……..

I’ve had two very different opportunities in the past two weeks.

The first was to work closely with a Year 13 student who sought help from me with understanding the essay questions for his English novel study.  His class is studying Bulibasha and after some discussion around setting, theme, character and plot I confirmed what I had suspected, he hadn’t actually read the text!  I confessed to him that I also hadn’t read this novel and so I struck a contract with him – if he read the book, I would also read the book and we’d meet weekly to discuss it in relation to his essay questions.  Reading the first 50 pages was like chewing cardboard.  I had no stomach for it. But we had agreed to read the first 100 pages before our next get-together so I persevered.  As I neared the 100 page mark I began to find I had become invested in the outcome for these characters. I wanted to discover the end of their story so I kept going and finished the entire novel the next day.  As a result, the student and myself (he had read our agreed-to 100 pages) had an in-depth discussion which has helped him focus on a clearer approach.  An unexpected result was the gratitude from his Year 13 teacher that I would “go the extra mile” to help and the acknowledgement of being an extra professional as part of the team.  All because of a conversation with a student who asked me a question.

The second opportunity came during one of the lessons I taught today – a Year 10 Social Studies class who need to write a Time Magazine article about an important event in the 20th Century.  Today’s focus was on gathering information in a format that will help them use it to write their article. (More about this is a future post about note-taking).  The teacher who was in charge of this class today was relieving for their regular teacher, however he is also a full-time member of staff.  Once the session was finished and we’d set the boys to working he began to talk to me about his Year 11 History class which is due to begin a new research assignment next term.

After a great discussion and exchange of ideas I will now be working with this group for several consecutive lessons with a focus on research skills:  note-taking, searching techniques and using the History in Context Resource Centre through EPIC.  This is a successful, if somewhat serendipitous outcome which allows me to work in depth with a new group of students.  All because one teacher was relieving another teacher’s class in the library.

I encourage you to snatch, grasp, grab, pluck and seize every potential opportunity and then turn it into a successful collaborative working opportunity with your teachers and students.

3 thoughts on “Never Let a Chance Go By ……..

  1. Lovely post, Senga. I’m pleased you persevered with Bulibasha as in my book group it is still one of our favourite shared books. As a primary school teacher on the library listerv, I feel very lucky to be part of this community where librarians, on a daily basis, are dealing with the challenges of developing literacy attitudes and skills that help young people make sense of the world they are moving into. With my class of year 5 and 6 children, I pick up ideas that I can begin to introduce at my level that will be built on a secondary level.


    1. Thanks Jane, I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m very keen on those of us working in different sectors or at different levels of education to be more aware of what we are all doing so we can be helping the transition between each stage go as smoothly as possible and that we are preparing our students for each change. That was one of my motivations for beginning work on my Tertiary Prep tutorials which have been very successful in bridging the gap between secondary and tertiary research and study.


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