Archive for June, 2009

Lessons for the teachers

For some reason, when it comes to kids and teaching, it is never associated with me (and for good reason). So it came as a surprise to some (and myself) when I started to tutor for the first time a few months ago. It came as an even bigger surprise when I agreed to become a writing teacher, with no previous experience whatsoever.

So, two weeks ago I started my first teaching gig as a writing teacher to a class of nine. Nine kids, ranging from 1st grade to 7th grade (talk about unbalanced class). Honestly, I think this is a parent’s easy way of paying for daycare, education and babysitting into one. Good for them, bad for me. How am I suppose to teach a class when everyone’s level is so skewed? Not to mention, this is my first ever teaching job.

I’m two weeks into my five-week-gig (which will be followed by another eight-week gig) and I’m already hating/loving teaching.Maybe this isn’t near to other teachers but it’s certainly new to me, considering the last time I associated myself with children was when I was a child myself.¬† Here is what I have learned so far:

1. Charm works at any age. Just ask my 5th grade student who somehow talked me into giving him points for assignments he didn’t do (and doesn’t plan on doing)

2. Crude jokes and comments start at an early age. The first week of class, I played a game called “Finish the story” where one student would start a story, and pass it onto the next student to write a few more lines, and pass it on and so forth. When it came time to read the stories, the following things were mentioned: rape, suicide, terrorists, bombing, “gauged his eyes out with a sharp knife”, Osama Bin Laden, Hilter, Obama, “put firecrackers in his mouth”. During the second week, I handed a writing prompt that asked “Do you think labeling someone’s personality is positive or negative? Is it helpful or harmful?” When asked what types of labels they have been given, answers included “gaylord, douchebag, condom holder, stalker”. I was then asked to correctly define what “douchebag” meant. I am never going to do free-writing again.

3. They are a lot smarter than we give them credit for. When discussing what the definition of a hero was, one of the first graders asked “Why can’t real-life billionaires be more like Ironman and Batman? Why can’t they secretly be unselfish and want to save the world. Why are they so greedy? If they weren’t so greedy, maybe they could help make this world a better place” Hmm…that’s a lot coming from a 6-year-old.

4. Threatening to tell on them to their parents has no effect; threatening to break their iPods, as you hold their iPod out the window, will definitely get their attention.

5. Giving candy as an incentive only works for first graders (and adults like me). The only  incentives that worked for my fifth and seventh graders were telling them I would bring XBOX360 to class next week (a lie) and would let them out early (true).

6. As a parent, your actions have a huge impact on your kids. When asked why he wrote a story about a hero having a wife and a girlfriend, the student replied, “because that what daddy has so it must be okay!”

7. A student has the ability to boost your self-esteem. After my first day of teaching, I was so convinced that I failed as a teacher, until one of my students walked by and said “Good first class Miss. Diana! I’ll see you next week!” I wanted to cry and hug him, but that would have been awkward.

to be continued…

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