Monday, July 1, 2013

A Step Back To Step Forward?

I missed my first chance to teach two art classes to my peers because of a sudden and inexplicable illness. A range of emotions flooded through me when I realized I wasn't going to be able to go but I went ahead and applied for next year. One of the classes was accepted. You can bet I am doing everything I can to protect my back.

Luckily I didn't have a class scheduled to teach my private school kids. Trying to teach K - 3rd graders iPhoto and Microsoft Word in an after school program would have pushed me over the edge. An hour with the class once a week made me appreciate on a new level what my wife did all day, all week for nine months of the year.

The school was undergoing new construction so the spring after-school program was pretty limited. Things are back together and when asked if I would like to teach again I said yes, but I would rather teach a craft program. Not art or just art but a multitude of things, all different for the kids to try.

I had discovered computer lesson limits were about 20 - 30 minutes tops. The rest of the hour was filled with games, puzzles, art - whatever would keep them busy and out of mischief. It was this experience that made me realize that kids enjoy creating and I had all kinds of ideas and projects that any child could do. I wanted to give it a try.

Strange as it might seem, I think that this experience, working with children teaching something I enjoy doing will prepare me for teaching next year in Las Vegas. As a teacher in West Africa during my Peace Corps years, I taught the 5th grade my first year, 7th & 8th graders my second year. I learned so much, more than years in school and college! Not only did you have to teach it, you had to know about 4 or 5 ways to teach it because each of us learns in different ways. My first year was rough. With only about 12 students, we taught only in English, the national language to kids from about five or six tribes and their languages were often different. English was the common tongue. Sort of.

Yet in the teaching of these students, I learned so much. They gave me much more than I gave them. I learned to teach. My 8th graders went on to high school and everyone skipped one year and several tested at the junior level, a true advantage in that cash strapped country.

So, the adventure begins in September if I get enough students. I am excited in fact! I know that the lessons I learn here will help me to teach my students next year! Wish me luck.

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