Thursday, September 17, 2015

What I Learned About Launch Week

In Citizen Schools (and probably a lot of other classes and after school programs), we sometimes use a graphic organizer called a KWL chart. It looks something like this:
These are useful for getting kids to recall information they already know, brainstorm questions about a new topic, and reflect on what they learn in a class. They are also useful for us adults (and without knowing about these charts, I've already started a collection of posts about What I Know).

Before Launch Week (the official start of Citizen Schools programming), I knew that a) program would start, b) I'd have wayyy more interaction with the students, and c) the months of training I received would finally be put to use. I wanted to know a) What was actually going to happen once I was standing at the front of a classroom, b) How I would remember all the parts of each day's lesson, and c) Was I really qualified to be doing this? Here's What I Learned:

  1. Holding the attention of 20 students for 90 minutes is not easy, but it's not complicated either. The tricky part is getting them all to pay attention at the same time.
  2. Economy of Language has multiple benefits. Using as few words as possible to get your point across is not only an effective way to keep things straightforward for your students, it also ensures that you won't lose your voice on the first day of program.
  3. Kids love rewards. You guys: I raffled off leftover oranges and carrots in my class this week and the kids went bonkers.
  4. The show must go on. Much like any "performance," class has to keep rolling even when you forget your agenda and materials in your office, which is three stories down.
  5. Keep an air of mystery. Related to # 4, when you forget materials, your train of thought, or a crucial handout from the day before, no one has to know but you - pretend like everything's cool, and kids will go with it.
  6. Teaching begets learning. I'm not talking about students learning here - I mean me, the teacher. I've learned something new (or relearned something again) every. single. day. And I can only guess and hope that that trend continues.

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