Saturday, August 6, 2011
What I Learned at Summer Camp
I was a camper for years, and a way-too-dedicated camp counselor. But I've never taught kids in the classroom. This summer I worked at a camp for the gifted, teaching public speaking to elementary schoolers, creative writing to ESL high schoolers, and improv comedy (yes, really) to elementary and middle schoolers.
Teaching kids is very different than teaching college students. This past month, I've learned some things:
1) You must schedule in at least five minutes per class to say, "Okay, listen up, okay, shhh, Morgan" and "Okay, so now we're going to talk about--Morgan, Morgan?" and "Okay, so who's ready to try--Morgan, you need to sit up here next to me."
2) Virtually every speech will be about soccer, the environment, or Greek mythology. However, other topics will include "Chuck Norris" and "The History of Fashion from the 90s to Modern Times."
3) A child can never tell you enough about amber.
4) Twelve-year-olds will describe you as funny and cool, which is the opposite of how they described you when you were twelve.
5) Students will make observations like, "YoonSeok is chubby, in a cute way" and "Ms. Christy, some of these improv clips are a little inappropriate for children, don't you think?" and "This class would be better if we got rid of the hesitant kids."
6) ESL students will really surprise you. Here's an example.
7) Whether it's academic camp or not, there should always be time for arts and crafts.
8) High school students from every culture will not let on that they like you or class until the last day.
9) Elementary school students are not afraid to tell you how much they love you, every day, until you are uncomfortable.
10) Nine-year-olds are not very good at improv.
11) Every day is better when homemade chapbooks are involved.
12) Kids are pretty awesome.
13) You could never do this full time, and you now have even more respect for the people who do.