And so it is that my three weeks among the pygmy tribes of the third through sixth graders ends…but for a moment…I shall soon return!
In the whole time I’ve desired to teach, I never thought that I would enjoy interacting with younger students. Every single day I spent with them, though, changed my preconceptions of them. Far from the small, gully-dwarf-like creatures (thank you, Weis and Hickman) I expected, I encountered a warm, welcoming tribe of miniature people.
At first, of course, they were suspicious and curious of this “new teacher person” who had wandered into their midst. By the second day, the dominant members of the herd recognized that I was not there to take away their position, but to encourage and facilitate their collective explorations of the worlds of science, mathematics, reading and social studies. As I gave of myself, shared my experiences and knowledge, more of the band accepted me and we explored the regions of Academia together. Soon I was receiving spontaneous hugs, fist bumps, high fives and one small group introduced me to a unique custom of “smashing thumbs” by way of greeting. How strange!
On several occasions, other educational explorers and I had the opportunity to escort these diminutive wonders into the outdoors. If the explosion of activity I witnessed could be harnessed, the world’s quest for energy sources would be over! Despite their occasional lack of enthusiasm displayed inside the confines of a classroom, the first whiff of outside air renewed their joie de vivre.
Now I return to the land of the larger students, examining grades seven through twelve. Already I have witnessed some general displays of apathy common among this group. I do not despair, though. I have worked with this tribe before. I know which ones are receptive to gentle prompting to activity and which ones must constantly be monitored lest they disappear into a fog of digital semi-reality.
Ah – the challenges and rewards of a new day…