Last summer I got an internship with another college student (Lisa) at Pine View middle school teaching a homeroom class. This class was designed to teach success and motivation to students who were struggling or acting out. You know that one kid in your class that was loud and just goofed off? They would be in this class. Or the kid who dosed off in the back corner and could care less. They would be in this class too. I was really excited about the opportunity to teach, work with kids again, and be back at the best school in southern Utah but I had no idea what was coming.
The first few weeks we didn’t have a single student so we spent time making our classroom all cute and coming up with lessons to teach. We went with a Candy Land theme with lots of fun bright colors and cheesy quotes and we also had a trail on the back wall that we used to motivate the kids to earn a reward. It was a lot of fun but also frustrating because we didn’t sign up to sit in a classroom all day and goof off.
Eventually we did get some students and for the first little bit I was nervous and felt unprepared. These kids were punks and did not want to be in our class. And let me tell you, coming up with an entire year of lessons on success, motivation, and leadership is really difficult. A normal homeroom class consists of reading or catching up on homework but in ours there were having discussion, filling out worksheets, and we had expectations. I have dealt with kids who want nothing to do with me or putting in effort but man these kids were a special kind of stubborn!
Lisa and I had lots of complaints and frustration but here we are an entire school year later. Even though we have more kids and they are still just as stubborn I am still grateful for the opportunity I had to work with them. I have learned a lot of patience and realized that some kids really do need individualized attention in order to motivate or even communicate with them. Every single kid in our class is so smart but they just want to goof off or get lazy and don’t turn in their work. I can’t tell you how many debates and discussions we have had where I thought to myself, “wow that was impressive! now why can’t you do that in all your classes?” Some students we realized were more vocal than others so we would have them present in front of the class instead of doing a worksheet. As long as they met the criteria we asked for it counted!
The whole experience has validated my beliefs on making sure that you understand everyone is different, everyone communicates differently, and that some people just need a little bit more attention and appreciation than others. Instead of taking the easy way out and giving up on these kids we really should be learning how to appeal to them and how to individualize their education so that they get the most out of it and are self motivated to do it. This is why I want to be a therapist!
I’m not going to lie there have been a few times where we just couldn’t come up with a lesson and would watch movies and do worksheets but overall I found it to be a very beneficial and rewarding experience. Not many people can say they taught a class by themselves for an entire year without having a degree. I gained a lot of respect for teachers and principals as well! I wasn’t as crazy as these kids but I was definitely social in middle/high school so if you were ever my teacher and you are reading this I apologize and truly appreciate everything you do!
This school year will be ending in a few weeks and even though I am glad for it to be over so I can have a little bit more of my life back I really am grateful for the opportunity that Pine View gave me. Hopefully one day each kid in our class will be successful and happy and have at least one positive memory about that crazy homeroom class.