When I began serving in September, I had some doubts about my ability to lead lessons and more than a little apprehension at the thought of a classroom full of elementary school students! Before coming to the Brashear Association, I had worked mainly with high school students. I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to relate to younger students and build the rapport that mentoring requires.
I shouldn't have worried. I quickly got the hang of lesson planning and found that I had a lot more in common with the kids than I had expected. Planning the science, art, and community lessons for the after school program became one of my favorite parts of each week- science experiment days being especially fun.
I found a lot of help in books and on blogs while planning science lessons. Community lessons, on the other hand were somewhat of a mystery and a blank canvas. Under Amber's guidance, community became an inclusive and holistic subject, ranging in scope from citizenship in the nation, all the way down to cooperation in the classroom. Many cards were made and teamwork games were played.
Art has always been close to my heart. I have drawn and doodled since I could first put marks on paper. With art, I found it easiest to connect with the kids of the after school program. I offered a few lessons, led a lot of art projects, started a monthly Saturday art club, and even taught the New Artists after school program for a time, but I think my favorite experience has simply been drawing with the kids.
Laying out art supplies and just letting the students express themselves as they will is great, and I loved the times I could just ease off of the classroom control, and sit down to draw with them. I encouraged the kids to explore their own talents, but found myself taking requests almost from day one.
I exercised skills I hadn't used in years and acquired new ones from all the practice I got! I learned many, many things during my time with the Brashear Association, with art tricks being a miniscule portion. I got to experience, in some small way, the freedom and excitement of being an elementary age student- learning new things...
and just taking enjoyment from being outside.
I don't think I'll be able to make a full account of all the little lessons I learned serving my AmeriCorps term here, but I'll always look back with fondness. It's been a wonderful year.