To say I was impatient prior to my AV year would be an understatement of the upmost degree. I am, like many of my generation a “here and now” individual. If I see I want, I want it to materialize pronto. The concept of waiting for something is as foreign as non-HD televisions and dial up internet. I’m talking AOL complete with the deafening connection noise. I am a full blown 21 century kid. Sure I was born in the 20th century, but I came of age in the 21th and if averages are used as a basis, I have lived most of my life in the 21th century. I am aware that solely using the circumstantial nature of my birth as the reason for my inability to let things naturally take its course is a lethargic summation. So how does patience relate to my AV year? The answer can be summed up in one word Kindergarten. Yes Kindergarten (KG). KG is the domain of repetitive requests and constant boundary pushing, where the cutest kids can be the biggest culprits. I would wager that if a survey was conducted listing what KG teachers consider the most important skill or trait in their positions, patience would either rank 1 or 1-A. Imagine asking someone to do something and less than a minute later, the person you asked does the complete opposite of what you requested. That singular incident is frustrating and would result in understandable disappointment. Now imagine that singular incident occurring over and over hour after hour. Sure repeating requests is not the most pleasant part of working with younger kids, but it’s something that I believe helps cultivate better traits internally. The joys of seeing a student behave appropriately after several requests and suggestions completely negate the frustration felt in the lead-up. These interactions have highlighted a philosophy and approach during times of petulance. Simply put, the rewards of the future will outshine the annoyance of today. As long as you keep on keeping on and reminding yourself that whatever it is you are feeling in the moment as it relates to impatience, that feeling will become unrecognizable once your objective is reached. Sooo Umm That’s the Truth.
My volunteer year is wrapping up and I going to have to say goodbye to the kiddies in 5 days. It’s hard to believe and somewhat unreal to come to grips with the fact that I have been in Methuen/Andover/Lawrence for a full school year. Around this time last year I was still in Philadelphia gearing up for the AV year playing video games and watching insane amounts of Netflix. My little brother even asked why I did not have a job and played soo much video games to which I responded mind your own business monk monk (I know real matur.e) So here I am sitting on my couch writing one of my final blog posts about my volunteer year, and I am not sure how I want to describe my experience. Should I construct a montage depicting my year and the various adventures? Should I record a video and discuss the standout moments aka the I don’t want to write several pages on Word method? The last option would be to spit up my year into different areas/segments and combine written posts, videos, pictures, and music to tell the story and attempt to capture the ups downs and in-betweens of my AV year. The winning option is ………..ding ding ding Option 3. In the next couple of days I will be posting videos/written posts, and pictures from the year with blurbs explaining their significance.
Back once again with another post. If you are reading this, I want you to know that all is going well and the reason for my blogging absence was nothing dire. Things have been amazing the last month and some change since my last post. I can finally say without a shred of doubt that I feel at home in Methuen, going as far as referring to Methuen as home while chatting with friends and co-workers. I owe this feeling of security and comfort entirely to the staff at my school. They are truly some of the most kind and inviting people I’ve ever met in my life, and everyday I’m learning about professionalism and consistency in the work place. The women at school continue to inspire me, and I’m looking forward to learning much more tidbits of wisdom.
Kids (The Good)- The children are still awesome. Today I reached the elusive milestone of teaching in every class in the school. Surprisingly, the class that allowed me to achieve this goal was Chinese, possibly the subject I know the least about. Having taught in every class and having constant interactions with the different grades, has given me a decent gauge on the personalities of most of the students. I am notoriously bad with names, but I’ve found a way to memorize about 60-65% of the kids in the school, a feat that fills me with immense joy. The simplicity of remembering someone’s name is slight yet profound, a gesture of genuine care. That’s at least how I view the act. I because this sign of consideration has contributing to my cult following among the students. They have taking to calling me Mr. Swagbe. A name I was not found of in the beginning, but the nickname has grown on me in the past months. Every day, a new student comes up and asks if it’s okay to call me Mr. Swagbe while other students simply refer to me by my moniker.
Kid(The Bad?)- For the most part, my experiences with the kids have been great with a couple hick ups here and there. I’ve had students raise his voices at me, accuse me of being a “Big Meany,” and simply refuse to recognize my authority. The students’ disobedience has a lot to do with my approach to teaching, because my joking personalities creates an atmosphere of peers relations as oppose to the hierarchical system utilized by more stern teachers. At times I can be strict, but the inconsistency brings some unpleasant challenges, that and me being a substitute. Sooo ummm that’s truth.
It’s almost flipping February. The month with days dedicated to relationships, codons partying in New Orleans, Presidents, American football, and Presidents. If that’s not an eclectic mix, then you can add Ash Wednesday to the mix to simmer the collection. Since I was slightly bored before starting this post, I explored the internet in search of peculiar facts about Fevrier. Among the many bits of unless information, I discovered that the Birthstone of Fevrier is the widely popular Amethyst. I was going to make a remark about the Amethyst, but I decided my wit should be used for more pressing matters like national security, not trivial jokes about a stone whose name is often mispronounced. Fevrier is also home to National Parent Leadership month, here is the part in the post where I pull a Daniel Day Lewis and get serious. As some may know I committed myself to a year of service in the MA, working at a Catholic school, and after learning that Fevrier is National Parent Leadership Month, it had a profound impact on me due in part to the events of the previous 5 ish months. Being on the opposite side of the spectrum of education, serving as a provider rather than a receiver, has provided me with a newfound respect and admiration for the crucial role teachers, students, and parents play in the education paradigm. Recently I attended a function where a former principal of the school I work was being honored for her contribution to Catholic education. I had never met the woman prior to attending the event, but she was highly regarded among all the teachers I work with, so I simply used the law of positive perception by association aka trust. The event honoring the former principal was conducted by the Knights of Columbus. Many of the knights were parents of children at my job and it was in that moment for some comic reason, most likely the mix of educators and parents, I realized the amount of time the parents put into their children and the school. Growing up my mother and father were not the most involved in guilds or parent associations, the topic was never broached, and that aspect of school was never a reality of my adolescence. I wonder if I attended a Catholic school, would it have been different. Tuition is a major incentive to care more about your kid’s education, but knowing my parents as well as I do, the result would most likely have been the same. My parent’s lack of devotion to weekly meetings and school activity planning may be playing a role in the awe I feel towards the parent’s dedication to the cause. At work, we have den mothers, mothers in charge of different rooms, providing the class with materials and ensuring the teacher receives the supplies for various workshops and activities. What a beautiful concept, and its execution is nearly flawless. The mothers are extremely involved and invested in the program meeting with teachers on a weekly basis. In addition to the den mother program, my job also has a guild composed of parents, priests, deacons, and the principal of the school. They plan fundraisers, events, and some extracurricular activities. Every day I see guild members at the school meeting with principal, setting up fundraisers and clothing exchanges, and volunteering during lunch time. I sincerely hope Parental Leadership Month gets more attention, because there is nothing wrong with acknowledging the arduous work many parents put in to ensure their kids get a top class education. Soo Umm That’s the truth.