Chenoa was a Middlesex Community College intern last semester and we asked her to share some of her experience with us. It has been wonderful watching her grow and learn more about working with kids in our Discovery AfterSchool Program. Here is her first guest blog.
If you’re interested in signing your child up for Discovery AfterSchool classes, our fall semester registration is open and we have many fun classes in art, math, and science. Classes start the week of September 12, 2016. Call us to set up an appointment or fill out the application materials online and send in to us.
A Change in Perspective
Before starting my internship at the Green Street Discovery AfterSchool Program, the only experience I’d had with kids working at Russell Library in the Children’s Section. My attitude towards kids was usually one of standing in the background and observing. I was never the disciplinary type because I didn’t have confidence in my abilities to play that role. I also don’t remember a lot about my childhood. Because of this, I had a really hard time relating to kids. I wasn’t able to remember what it was like in certain grades or when I was even their age. I felt like kids would pick up that and realize I didn’t know what it was like to be in their shoes.
For the first week as a new teaching assistant, I stayed on the perimeter of the group to observe. When the kids would act up every now and then, I would say something like, “Guys, are you listening to what the teacher just said?” I had to go out of my comfort zone of normally being an introvert to having to be more assertive. I quickly realized, that this technique of being on the perimeter and trying to be assertive from the outside was not effective. So after watching a few “how to get children to listen to you” videos via YouTube, I realized that a huge reason as to why the kids weren’t listening to me was because I was not on their level – literally.
So, I became a part of the class, participating in activities with the kids. And the kids started listening to me. I used consistency, persistence, and also assertiveness so the kids knew that I deserved the same amount of respect that they gave other authority figures. And they knew I would respect them too.
I became a friendly face, and ear, they could confide in. Every now and then there would be a kid who was normally well behaved but for some reason, didn’t want to participate. I would pull them aside and by simply listening to them talk about what had happened that day helped. I would listen and would ask a few questions to build rapport with the kids. I wanted them to know that they could confide in me and that if they didn’t want to confide in me at the moment, I was ready to listen to them if that changed. Through listening to what some of the kids told me, I started to put the pieces together as to how the kids deal with things in school or how it effected their day.
Once I started participating and listening, my empathy towards these kids grew. I started to understand why kids acted certain ways and also what things I could do to help them feel better and get back on track in class. My impression now is that, while there are some kids who are going to act out due to issues at home or in school, there are a lot of kids who just want someone to talk to where they can be themselves. I went from having a more cautious view of kids, to tearing up on the last day of the program. At the Solstice Performance, I saw each one of the kids I had worked with go on stage and really shine. These kids grew on me. And for once in my life, I finally started to feel, and maybe even remember, what its like to be a kid again.