Friday, February 13, 2009

First Day at St. Mary's

Wednesday was our lab’s first day at St. Mary’s Catholic School here in Cortland working with the after school program kids. The best way to sum it up was: it was an experience. Our group gathered in the back entrance to the school as the kids were being dismissed from school and beginning to check in for the after school program. Some of the kids were excited to see college kids there again, while others began trying to tease us and act like they didn’t want us there. It was funny because with the later group you could see the smiles on their faces when they turned, reassuring us that they were happy we were there.

When we entered the gym we got into our smaller groups and were assigned to a lab assistant and an age group of children. The group that we would be working with that day was made up of kindergarten and first grade kids. We were assigned to the gym first and began playing games such as Sharks and Minnows, Tag (with other locomotor skills such as hoping, galloping, etc.) Crabwalk tag, hula-hoop chain race, and others.

The kids we were working with were off-the-wall, but I don’t really blame them. After being kept inside all day in a classroom, wouldn’t you want to just run around and be loud and crazy after school? I think it was intimidating to some other (college) students but I had no problem jumping right in and helping the lab assistants and playing the games with the kids.

Sure there were a few problems, some kids didn’t want to play anymore, or wanted to play certain activities (one kid asked me probably 20 times in less than an hour if I would play basketball with him) but I found that if I acted really excited about the activity we were doing as a group they would give it a shot. There was also a couple of “trouble-makers” but with patients I even got through that. Looking back now I wish I would have handled them differently, but that’s what’s nice about this class, I can reflect and learn how to handle different situations that will come up when I begin to teach on my own.

After a while it was time for our group to switch with the older group downstairs in the cafeteria. So we stayed with our group and went downstairs as they ate a snack and then played games, built things with legos, colored, and did other activities. This part I liked the most because I got to talk to the kids, and learn things about them like their name. I started by playing Connect-4 with one kid. Another, kindergartener came over and wanted to play. It was amazing to see the difference in fine motor skills between two kids that were separated by only a year or two. I then went and played a board game with another kid. I felt like I was playing the game in the movie “Big Daddy” because the kid was making up the rules and always beating me. Finally, I sat down at the legos and helped them build pirate ships.

We went back upstairs for a little and because there really wasn’t enough kids to play games we had free time. I finally got to play basketball with the kid who asked before and was amazed at his skill for such a young kid. He was past the other kids in skill level by far. Another kid began to play and would only shoot using an underhand two-handed toss, so I worked with him on his regular basketball shot. We ended the afternoon by playing with the large parachute as a group. It was fun, and brought me back to my childhood and Phys Ed class. We ended with a cheer (1…2…3…St Mary’s Stars!) and we were done.

To say I was exhausted after is an understatement. But I did really enjoy it. I was glad I got involved early with working with the kids and didn’t just sit back. I’m sure next week will be just as much fun.

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