Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Teaching Tuesday 07.03.12

The 21st of June was a really bittersweet day for me. I would say more bitter than sweet. It was my last day at work, and also hopefully my last day as an after-school teacher. I miss my kinder-boys and my girls who had names that rhymed. I miss hanging out with them, and talking with them about anything and everything. I miss my coworkers, who were equally as awesome to be around. I can't believe I've worked at after-school programs for two years now. Time has gone by so quickly, and everything's a little blurry. I remember my first day at my first real job, post undergrad. I was so inexperienced and nervous. There I was, given a group of kids and a classroom, and the director wasn't even there for my first week. Looking back, it's kind of funny how chaotic my first month (even year) was because I really didn't know what I was doing. I learned everything as I went on day by day. I remember after some really rough days, I would just sit in my car after clocking out, crying out of frustration. I hate to admit it, but I tend to have quitter tendencies. I don't get going when the going gets tough. I complain, sometimes cry, and usually just give up and wallow in self pity. But every passing day that I didn't quit my job was an increasing affirmation that this is what I want to do with my life. At the same time, that's what I love about working with kids: no day is the same--the day before could be really terrible, but the next one could be the best one yet. I continued to make mistakes at my second job: I remember my first day there, I left the room without checking the room for kids and a kid was still in the bathroom. From my very first day until now, I've grown so much as a teacher and as a person. I've learned so much about people, about children, and about myself. 

I think the biggest lesson I learned was not to underestimate kids. We really don't give them enough credit. They're smart, honest, observant, impulsive, curious, resilient, funny, and overall just amazing and adorable little people. And that's how I've learned to treat them--as people, not as children. If you don't respect them, they won't respect you back. Set high standards, encourage and guide them to meet those standards, and eventually they will. Time-outs do not work. Give them choices so they feel empowered, independent, and included in the decision process. I suppose this can be applied to people in general actually. Something I've always been bad at is discipline. I'm such a softie, but I think I've gotten better with being "firm, yet warm" as my textbooks kept reiterating. I've also realized how much patience I do possess, because there's nothing that tests your patience more than children. I've also realized that I don't need to be artsy to be creative: as a teacher, you have to be spontaneous and improvise activities. With budget, you need to be resourceful too. I've found that teaching brings out the best sides of me: creativity, resourcefulness, organization, etc., but especially going-with-the-flow-ness. I'm such a control freak with everything else about my life: everything has to have a time and a place, but at work, it's so hard to predict how the day will go or what mood the kids are in, so there, I've learned to go with the flow. I need to apply this outside of work to my life.

Work was so cathartic for me: It was like entering Neverland every time. I got to be a kid again. I truly miss it. I'm so thankful for all that I got to experience, and I'm really looking forward to the future.

Until next post,