With the help of my host teacher, I’ve finally begun my series of extracurricular volunteering, in which I teach two small groups of third-graders, completing enrichment-level art and English projects.
This past week was my first time meeting my new students. Since I usually work with the students who are struggling in class, these third-graders were familiar only from quick smiles and waves in the hallway. As our first project, we created self-portraits with our name, age, and “likes,” then labeling the basic features of the head.
I worked with two groups of five on Monday and Thursday. At the beginning of each session, I was thrilled to see how excited the students were to be there, drawing and learning. My Monday students sat and worked diligently, though all the while eager to ask me any questions they could in their limited English. The period was filled with language exchange and guessing, silly faces, laughter, and plenty of eyes, ears, noses, and poses, crayons never leaving their papers for more than a minute. Angels.
Okay…but the Thursday group was a bit of a different deal.
My four boys there…they will be a challenge. The sole girl sits quiet and ready for anything I say, but the boys want to take charge of the lesson. Though driven at first to complete the portrait, the boys were soon out of their seats, crawling under desks, racing about and looking for anything they could throw to each other. Soon the lesson morphed, from “let’s make a self-portrait,” to “let’s make alien faces on the board,” to “let’s sit in a circle on the floor and talk about ourselves,” to…anything that satisfied their need to move.
But I dearly love both sets of kids. Already. How did they do that? Even the wild boys are so charming, and I know they want to be there.
It’s on me, to better formulate lessons that can entertain their restless spirits, to adapt to their needs appropriately. Next time I’ll be prepared to schedule in breaks between work, to have back-up activities if the primary one isn’t “enough.”
On the other hand, I also I know that I have to be more assertive. know I can change my approach to have more control over the class, while still having an organic lesson and fun experience for everyone.
Yes, it will be a challenge (and exhausting, after full days of classes) to lead these sessions, but I’m glad for it. I’m embracing the chance to become less timid, less compliant to resistance, and to achieve more from it, for my and their benefit.