When I first stepped into this class, I wasn’t quire ready for what was going on inside. What I knew about elementary school was basic: the teachers taught and the students listened. Volunteering at this school was vastly different than my expectations. When I was an elementary student, I obeyed the teacher and would participate whenever I could. I believe most of my classmates responded along the same lines. This school, on the other hand, was completely opposite. The value of education is not very high on the priority list. Students would have difficulty staying quiet to listen how to complete the worksheet. Students would be hitting each other, talking, roaming the classroom, pretty much anything opposite from listening. I could not stand all those bodies not listening. What really baffled me was the students’ behavior when I led small groups of three. They could understand how to do the worksheets when I was with them in the small group, but not sitting at the desk while the teacher spoke. I did not have any answers for those two disconnects except for the fact that they were poor.
I did not quite understand why the students acted that way when I first entered the classroom, but now that I am studying social work, it makes some sense. If you do not have access to your basic needs, you are going to take care of them first. Who cares about doing homework if you don’t know what you are going to eat tomorrow. Or if you don’t have someone telling you to complete your homework. Or if you have to take care of chores and siblings until your parents or guardians get home. Homework or school is not the priority.
Now, to explain the different reactions in small group. What I think is that these students do not have the opportunity to get individual attention most of their day. In those small groups, I could provide them with one on one attention that children need in their development. A sense of nurturing and love. If mom and dad are working all day, most likely the students will get brief attention when mom and dad come home, but that’s not enough. Children need to have an adult source that believes in them. Someone who believes they can do well in school. Congratulate them on passing a reading test. Provide them with direction on how to change their bad habit of yelling in class. Most importantly someone who listens to them.
Sunday, February 07, 2010
Guest Blog: Anna
Today's post is from Anna, a social work student who volunteered in my class as an undergraduate. She volunteered both in a group and individually, working with small groups of students. I can't wait to see what she's going to do in the future because she is awesome. These particular students are not easy and she never faltered for a minute. At least she didn't show it if she did!