This week, I made a lot of paper planes. A LOT. Apparently young children have trouble with folding paper planes.
I have been so MIA it’s not very funny. But I’ve also been so busy it’s not even funny. But this was my last week of teaching a full class-load with an after school programme. I have make-ups over the next two weeks, but it’s only one and two classes each. Not five. Five is a lot.
My time teaching an after school science programme has been a learning experience. I taught about 93 children per week, depending on who was away, or sick, or didn’t want to come. The first week was brutal. I felt like I got tossed into the deep end with cinderblocks tied to my ankles. My partner’s brother is in teachers’ college, so I got some class room management help from him. I have another friend who gave me some advice for how manage kids with ADD/ADHD. I think I’ve gotten better. Some of the kids thanked me when it was all over and that was encouraging.
Since I’m so behind on my writing, I’d like to write about my experiences and what I learned. I don’t know if it will be useful to anyone, but perhaps by articulating them, it will be useful for me.
I’ll start by outlining the three biggest things I learned out of the entire process.
1) Tasks requiring manual dexterity will take time.
Valuable life lesson: anyone below grade five will have trouble folding. One of my fourth grades told me that he had never made a paper airplane before, so he was rather excited about it. The airplanes lesson is what inspired the title of this post because out of the ~93 kids I teach, only my grade 6’s were able to make the planes with minimal help. So if you are ever teaching young kids, developmental differences in manual dexterity is something to keep in mind.
2) Be insistent.
I’m not inherently confrontational. I’d really just rather not. But I found myself having to be at least insistent with their behaviour. It didn’t always work, but for the most part, the kids straightened up if I was firm about my expectations. I grew up in a radically different academic culture, and it was a bit of a shock to be teaching in such a different culture.
3) It’s not a big deal.
I think this was the biggest help for me. I’m so accustomed to “you must know this, there will be a test” that the during the first few weeks, I was frazzled if the kids didn’t cover all of the material. I had to take a step back and acknowledge that while this was an after school programme and parents paid extra for it, there was no test. There was no exam. The kids were there to have fun, not be lectured at. Once I accepted that we’ll get through what we get through based on interest, I was able to relax and not get so stressed out. I got through what I could and moved on.
Anyway, those are my words of wisdom. Hopefully, with these tools I’ll have an easier time teaching classes this coming semester.