It's only been two days, and yet I've learned a whole lot. I've gained a new found appreciation and respect for elementary school teachers, such as my mom, who do this not for 6 hours a day (as I do), but for an entire school day. Additionally, their job is to ensure that the kids learn the material, and actually retain information. I, on the other hand, am not required to assign homework or grades and am not responsible for ensuring students meet standardized testing metrics. Today, I came home exhausted (though marginally less than yesterday), collapsed, and fell asleep for 2 hours. Teachers of the world, I salute you.
Most of the kids in this program are a pain. I've chosen to categorize them in 3 overlapping groups:
1) The Overly Enthusiastic:
Some of the kids are too eager to do things, and decide it's okay to stand up, walk to the front of the class where I am, and start playing with my teaching materials. Since I brought a model airplane and balloons today to demonstrate propulsion methods, I suppose I was inviting trouble. These kids just won't shut up, and won't sit down. I appreciate their desire to learn and to engage in the material, but sometimes they just need to chill out. I had a roll of duct tape and wished I had used it more.
2) The Hopeless, Needy, and Disinterested:
This is a weird group, but all create the same problem. Perhaps 20% of a given class will not give a rat's ass what you're talking about, that is until you give them a balloon to play with. But for the most part, they sit to the side, talking to their friends, crying in the corner, or lying on the floor. They might not be the best students in the world, but at least they're somewhat quiet.
3) The I-Want-To-Strangle-Your-Scrawny-Neck Children:
Some kids are just rotten. I hate to say this, and would never tell a parent this, but some kids are just asses. Ranging from running around the classroom, interrupting my every other word, to talking back to me, I have no desire to teach these children. I'm still figuring out how to deal with these ones, but for now I've settled giving them stink eye during recess. They're more than happy to return the favor.
However, through all the headaches, dehydration, and fatigue, there have been some rewarding moments, even so early in the program. I'm happy to say my class is a hit, I've been told it's the most popular course in the program by the admins, in fact. The story goes like this.
-----The father of one of the students gets off work at 4, at which point it would naturally make sense for him to come pick his daughter up. Today, he came at 4, and pulled his daughter from my class to go home. One of the administrators told me that when this student's father came for her, she was really mad at him. She told him:
"Why did you have to come now?! I was in Science!"
"I thought you would want to come home."
"But we were just doing an experiment!"
The administrator asked: "So did you learn anything today?"
She replied: "No, we hadn't finished the experiment yet. Dad, can you come back later after we're done with Science?"
This makes me very happy. I think that since my class is the only one with hands-on demonstrations and kinesthetic learning, the kids are more engaged, and have more fun. Whenever I'm strolling around, I try to talk to the kids, and ask them how their day's going, what are they doing in other classes. When I ask them what they're learning in other classes, they reply "I don't know." But, when I ask them what they learned in my class, the spit out those short mantras: "Long and skinny flies farther" and from today "The balloon pushes the air out of its butt." Most seem genuinely excited to come to my class. They come up to me during recess and ask what we're doing today or tomorrow in class. This is very encouraging.
I thought my first post, the Mission Statement of this course, was a little silly at the time. I mean, it's hard to educate children, and for a novice teacher like myself, I can't expect to do much with them. But I'm finding that it's not absurd to get them excited about science. It's only been two days, but I think I'm definitely on the right track. The kids, though a pain, are actually learning things (albeit short and sweet, like some of them), and are excited to do so. I think I can get them to love science by the end of the class. You know why? Because Science is awesome.