Sunday, August 1, 2010
Notebooks and stickers and crayons - oh my!
I went to Target today to pick up a bridal shower gift, and I stopped at the little spot near the entrance where everything is a dollar (I'll buy almost anything if it's exactly one dollar). Since it's nearing back-to-school time, they had bins of sticky notes, planners, crayons - pretty much anything you could ever want to put in a first grade classroom. I stopped, of course, and took inventory of all the adorable, apple-shaped paraphernalia. I had a handful of "US Facts" flashcards before I realized that I didn't really have room to cart them over to the other side of the world with me. I was shocked to discover that this made me genuinely sad.
Moving to Korea wasn't really about the teaching for me. Yes, it's going to pay my bills, and I'm incredibly lucky that it just happens to be the field I'm trained in and, well, naturally pretty good at. When I think about being in SK, I almost never picture myself standing in front of a room full of kiddos, trying to teach them the i before e rule. Teaching was kind of just the unfortunate side effect of needing money to gallivant across Asia for a year. But I'm suddenly starting to wonder if maybe it'll be my favorite part of the whole adventure.
Friday night, I showed up to volunteer at CincyKids and got thrown into a classroom with a dozen five-year-olds. I've been volunteering at the Vineyard for four years now, but this was the first time I'd been in charge of that age group. I typically gravitate toward the toddlers; making conversation with a two-year-old rarely consists of more than "I like your shoes!" or "Where's your nose?" But as the little ones get taller, they start to get smarter, and I start to get nervous. What if they realize that I'm really not that cool? So I typically avoid them, but Friday night, I was stuck with them.
I have to be honest here - I only had this class of kiddies for about twenty minutes, and there were a handful of parent volunteers standing around to help if the kids somehow decided to declare anarchy and overthrow my authority. Regardless, I left feeling more empowered, like maybe this teaching thing won't be so bad after all. It turns out that it's kind of fun to have kids who actually delight in reciting back things they've learned or sounding out words on a poster. And it doesn't hurt to bust out some Simon Says when you accidentally line them up ten minutes too early.
Three weeks from tomorrow, I'll be starting training at the Gate school. I'm not going to say that I'm bouncing-off-the-walls excited, because I'm still pretty apprehensive about being responsible for the intellectual well-being of a room full of tiny people. But if I ended up with one of those "World's Greatest Teacher" pencil cups... I wouldn't hate it.