This past week, I served as a “class guide” for Spirit Camp at my church, our version of a Vacation Bible School. Even though my students weren’t the most adorable (that would probably go to the kindergarteners) or energetic (also the younger kids), I’m really glad I was assigned to the fourth grade. Even though fourth grade students are very different, in some ways, from middle and high school students, I learned things from them that I probably wouldn’t have from younger kids, and I’ll be able to use those lessons in upper level classrooms.
Most important, I suppose, is the importance of getting to know each student. I only had eleven students in my class, and even then I felt like I should have been writing down the things I learned in order to make sure I’d be able to draw upon that knowledge later. As it was, I only had a week with them, but keeping track of their interests–mentally or in another way–is important for me as a teacher. Knowing that one particular student liked wolves, for example, or that another loved her pet hamster, allowed me to more actively engage those students in lessons. And they got more adorable with each day, because I was able to see more of each awesome personality present in that class.
I also saw the importance of setting rules. Since it was a church camp, rules were already in place for us, but I relied on them often, so I saw the importance of establishing those rules, and setting them early. Discipline came easier than I thought it might, and I suppose that is because it wasn’t something I made a big deal out of. A quick glance in one student’s direction accompanied by a shake of my head, or a gentle reminder about the rule could happen mid-lesson without interrupting the flow of things too much. Of course, those were minor disruptions, but I found that they worked themselves into the fabric of our time together, just another aspect of running a class.
The feeling I got when I opened my classroom each morning, though, was probably one of my favorite moments of each day. My classroom. Camp only lasted a week, but that was my classroom and those were my students. I loved every minute of working with them. It’ll be a bit–another year, really–before I have another classroom that is completely mine, but I look forward to student teaching with a renewed fervor. I can’t wait to get to know my students.