Last Friday, Ms. Yaworski (teacher candidate) and I had the opportunity to work as a substitute teacher for a grade 3 class. Being both secondary teachers, we jumped at the idea of teaching the younger grades.
Being in someone else’s classroom and seeing the routine that the kids have, was so incredible. The kids knew exactly what to do and when. They were so well behaved and focused on their tests and subject matter.
What surprised me the most, is their quiet nature. Coming from a summer camp background, I am used to elementary kids running around and yelling in a gymnasium. It was easy to get their attention, especially when we used something that they were accustomed to. For example, if you said the word “waterfall” the kids in grade 3B would have responded with a “shhhh” and give all of their attention to the teacher. It was fantastic! My day at with the 3B students showed me how routine and consistency is really important in a classroom, and how helpful it would be for children on the autism spectrum or with learning disabilities.
While we followed their regular routines, we also judged their “tread-a-thon.” The primary grades competed in the pool on which grade could last the longest. At least 2 (or more) from each grade actually lasted treading water for thirty minutes! Amazing! It was hot and sunny but they persevered and even cheered on their swimmers. It was cool to see an event like this. Most schools in Vancouver would not have certain resources like pools available for them, and it was nice to see CRIA using their resources to its full potential.
Yesterday, we finished our first project here at CRIA, teaching substance abuse to middle school students (grades 6, 7 and 8). I was surprised at how each grade was different from the rest. Each grade level gave something completely different to the workshop. Grade 6s were honest about their knowledge and knew way more scientific matters about substances (drugs and alcohol). Grade 7s were more curious and asked a lot of questions on how to say no. Grade 8s were very well behaved and eager to participate in a discussion. It was a good experience to teach something that I had to research myself. We really had to keep in mind the purpose of the workshop/lesson and the importance of backward planning came into play. There so much that you can say about drugs and alcohol but the most significant part was focusing and explaining the “take-a-ways” of the workshop, which was to know and educate themselves, be conscious of their comfort level and safety. I told all the students “our bodies know when things aren’t right. When were uncomfortable in any situation, we have to trust our gut and act appropriately.” I hope this lesson sticks because I value the idea of power and choice in each individual.
I’m learning each day more and more about different styles of teaching. Also, I am learning that we use what we have and we make the most of it. Everything this week seems to be falling into place. It’s going to be very hard to say goodbye to Costa Rica. I’m already anticipating missing it.
PS: Here are some photos from our weekend hike in the rainforest. The little frog is the official animal of Costa Rica!