Today was presentation day where our hard-working Level 3 campers presented their project and their work throughout the past week to the level1 and level 2 freedom scholars. At this juncture, I’d normally have something mildly funny to say, but now hardly seems the time or place or state of mind. I am so proud of Team Orange. They endured biblical rain, brand-new scientific terms, and one of their first experiences in authentic scientific inquiry and perhaps one of their first times being asked “what question do you want to create and study?”
While the dry run of the presentation was a bit clunky, you wouldn’t know it when you saw the campers presenting to the level 1’s and 2’s. They were sharp, authoritative, used the vocabulary and really took on the role of scientific experts and teachers. We had attendance issues (only four of our members were in attendance), a change in timing (six minutes instead of the anticipated 10 per group), and a loud environment but they did it. Team Orange took the adjustments in stride and produced an excellent presentation. What I was most impressed with was the campers’ ability to answer questions from the young audience. Their answers showed their expertise because not only could they explain the scientific content , but they internalized it enough to explain to the level 1’s and 2’s at a level that even they could understand the answers to their questions.
For my last set of pluses and arrows, I will try to take what I have learned about my teaching skills and style from camp and place them in the context of the classroom and therefore a more formal learning environment:
One of my pluses was my ability to find common interests with the campers. In a short period of time, I was able to learn more about the campers as people. I learned not only about their interests, but also their learning styles. The knowledge regarding their interests helped me make a better personal connection with the campers and create a better relationship which led to a smoother and more productive learning environment. In addition, learning about in what situation/environment each student shines the most in gives me insight regarding both their strengths and weaknesses. In a classroom, this means I know which students to lean on when discussion or activity hits a lull and which students need more support in certain situations.
Another one of my pluses was my newfound knowledge in discussion facilitation. I am much better with wait time and giving the campers the time and space to do some good thinking. I am much more comfortable with silence in a classroom and giving enough wait time before asking the facilitating questions. These skills translate directly into a classroom and I will build off these new skills.
One of my consistent arrows was my decisiveness. While I could make quick decisions before the campers arrived, I found them difficult in the heat of the moment. I was better, but not enough to prevent my overthinking of the possible repercussions of my decisions from getting in the way of actually making a decision. This often led to dead time and an inefficient use of the time. In the context of the classroom, I need to think less about those repercussions; no mistake will ever be irreversible and quite frankly, every decision will have some fallout. Therefore, I need to trust my instinct, and I mean really trust it, and know that I have the capability to undo any cons of my decision the following class period.
Camp has been a truly eye-opening, humbling, and sometimes discouraging experience. However, I have learned so much about my ability as a teacher and how some of my positive teaching instincts manifest themselves in my lessons. Not only that, but I actually made it through! Yay me!
Life never gives us anything we cannot handle, and despite the immense amount of work that went into camp, it was done and executed well. Thanks to everyone in the cohort for their support and company! One big final push until some well-earned R&R.