By Taylor Gall – For the last 5 summers, I worked long days at a Garden Center in my hometown. I loved every minute of it, despite the lack of air conditioning, the bugs, and the stiff green polo I was forced to wear. I worked with amazing people and gained a lot of valuable insight into the worlds of small businesses and horticulture.
This summer, however, I was advised to pick up a job that had to do with children and education so that I could beef up my resume. After searching around, I decided to work for a local Recreation Department just north of the city. In that program I was assigned to work with the third graders.
Now I’ve spent my fair share of time babysitting third graders, hanging out with third graders, and many of my cousins are in elementary school, so I’ve had lots of exposure to this age group. It turns out, though, that attending family BBQs with kids this age is much different than actually teaching them.
I haven’t ever had to teach students this age– I’ve always been strictly 6th grade and up. Even though 3rd and 6th graders are only three years apart in age, they are worlds apart in personality, attention span, and listening abilities.
During my time at camp so far, I have developed a whole new teaching persona. I have had to learn that with younger students, I can’t always rely on their rational sides kicking in.
I’ve had to become more straight forward with the way I discipline them–I can’t be sarcastic or beat around the bush. I have to address the issue head-on in order for them to understand why I’m upset at what they’ve done.
Instead of dealing with ex-boyfriends and ACT stress like I would in a high school classroom, I have to deal with John forgetting his swim suit at home and Jamie taking the ball away from Carson on the playground.
One day, Elijah licked his best friend’s snack and then put it back in his lunchbox, and I was, quite frankly, unsure of how to handle the situation. A graham cracker cannot be un-licked!
I’ve found that dealing with younger kids in a large group setting does not come as easily to me as dealing with teenagers does, but I have been learning a lot along the way. I know now for sure that I am definitely not meant to be an elementary education major, but I have a new appreciation for how hard elementary teachers work to keep order and stability in the classroom.