Every time I do this trip, and this is now six years running, the last days of the first week are by far the hardest of the entire trip. The initial excitement has worn off. The reality of how hard this can be sets in. And everyone, including me, starts to wonder “how am I ever going to make it through another week of this?”
Time for a pep talk!
We had a great meeting tonight after a difficult day. At the meeting, we debriefed our day, trying to put it into perspective. Our fourth graders were scattered all across the spectrum from “never-saved-yesterday’s-project-and-had-to-start-over-again” to “finished-it-yesterday-and-need-an-extra-challenge.” To the girls, it felt like chaos, but when I walked around and saw the students work, they were all getting the project done, even if it was at vastly varying speeds.
The fifth grade was no better, but here Ryan stepped in and reassured the team that these same students were orders of magnitude more difficult last year. She has the perspective of progress and was able to share that with them.
The seventh and eighth grade students were only willing to do what we specifically asked them to do, which worked if their CSG “mentor” was really on top of them, coaxing them to continue their work. Not everyone was comfortable in that role, so progress was scattered.
Part of what the girls are experiencing is facing a completely different culture around education. The students here, for the most part, come from families that are very different from their own. The kids are really good at following instructions when they are given step-by-step directions, but have a difficult time when they are asked to be creative, work on their own, or explore something to see what they can figure out by themselves. In contrast, when we taught CSG’s 4th and 5th graders, the students happily experimented with Scratch to discover new things about the program. Many of the kids here also crave attention, so their independence when it comes to learning is lacking. This makes for a challenging teaching situation.
In our meeting we discussed all this, came up with solutions and plans, worked on examples to share and generally strategized on how to make it better. I am confident that tomorrow will go better, that our three-day weekend will renew everyone’s energy, and we will see great successes next week.
Despite the stress, there was also some fun to be had. The sun was shining, the beach was gorgeous, and we all got a great life lesson from Thomas at Our Market Smoothies. I stayed up late (past all the wifi traffic) to upload a video of today’s life lesson to YouTube! http://youtu.be/EZa92lJiu2U It’s worth the six minutes.