I have to say that though most of my friends are off gallivanting across the globe, I'm perfectly happy to be home. This in part comes from being unable to imagine teaching this class anywhere else. I'm so exhausted at the end of the day (keeping in mind my job is only 3/4 time), that I couldn't imagine having to survive on my own in a foreign country on top of it all. But things are getting better, and easier, and for the first time, I'm beginning to enjoy this work.
Today was full of surprises. The first two classes I had in the morning were the older group (incoming 5th graders) followed by the youngest group (post-kindergarten). I'm beginning to pick out the students that I could do a lot with (whose names are incidentally the only ones I remember).
In the older group, there's a boy named J---. He's quite brilliant I have to say. I was sitting with him yesterday while he was waiting to be picked up, and he told me he wanted to be an engineer when he grew up (my heart honestly skipped a beat). We started talking about science, and about Mythbusters. He's really an awesome kid. And, English is not even his first language, to boot. Of all the kids, I think he has the most potential, and I can tell he's one of the few that's grasping the material. Not only do I feel he understands what's going on, but he's actively expanding on it, and asking more penetrating questions. A true scientist in the making, if I ever saw one.
In the youngest group is the most adorable little boy, J----. He's just come out of kindergarten, but he's easily the smartest kid up until the 4th graders. He's sharp, and quick. Today we were going over Bernoulli's Principle (from which came Mr. Sakimoto's Science Mantra "faster air is weaker"). I had given them a strip of paper across which they blew to demonstrate this principle. Next I made a penny flip over just by blowing across the top. I asked a few simple set up questions, like "is the air on top moving faster or slower". Before I even had to lead them to the right conclusion, J---- chimed in with the most eloquent (and correct) explanation why the penny jumped. He made the conclusion that if the air on top is moving faster, than the slower air on the bottom was stronger and pushed the penny up. Now, I was a little shocked (even my mom who was sitting in the room at the time was a little taken aback by his clarity). I was even more shocked when it took me the better part of 15 min to lead a group of 4th graders to the same conclusion, which ended in me basically telling them why the experiment worked.
I've come to realize that I can't teach all these kids. Some are just content to lie on the floor in the back, or stare at the blue smudge on the back of their hand. But there's a good number of attentive, intrigued, and engaged kids who sit right up at the front, hanging on my every word. This job is rewarding, as much of a pain as it is.
As I was driving home with my mom, she brought up something interesting. The way in which kids grow and learn these days is dramatically different than how I grew up, at little more than a decade ago. Parents are often to busy to engage their kids one on one (hence why many of them are in this Summer program), and often toss their kid the newest video game, or plop them down in front of the TV for a few hours. Rarely are these kids pushed by their parents to think and analyze. What little stimulation beyond The Disney Channel and Cartoon Network are these kids given on a daily basis? As evidence of how deprived some of them are, it was such a big thrill today when I gave them a straw to do experiments with. Now, on a Friday night, now that I have showered, eaten, played Rock Band, and have sat in a quiet room by myself for a few hours, I can say I'm happy to be doing this job. I looked in on the other classes in the program, and most of the time, the students were sitting at their desks, copying things off the board. Sure my class might be loud and hectic, but the kids are engaged, they're learning. But most importantly, they seem to be having fun.
I think I'm waxing a little sentimental right now, so let me bring up some highlights from today:
I have yet to be at the right place at the right time in the morning. I've either gotten there late or waited in the wrong place. Here's to next week and getting my shit together.
I think that around 4th and 5th grade is about the time when girls start to get a little boy crazy. There's a group of girls in the D group who pretty much climb on top of one of the junior counselors, I think his name is D-- or R----. This same group of girls have begun to poke me as much as they can, and bother me at every turn. Today, they started smelling me (yes, smelling me) and told me I smell like man-perfume, whatever that may be. This smelling carried on through lunch and through the entire day, interrupted only when they decided to go back to poking me. One of them, I think her name is S-----, insists on sitting right next to my leg, much too close for comfort, during class. I've imposed an invisible force field rule around me, but it doesn't seem to do anything. I wish they would stop smelling me.
Monday and Tuesday I'm going to attempt bottle rockets with them. Since I haven't done this since 7th grade, this weekend will involve me building a launching system, and test firing a few rockets. Next week should be interesting, as after the bottle rockets, we're moving on the Chemistry!!!