Posted by: Tori Wong | 2nd Mar, 2010

Teaching at St. Barnabas!

This semester, I’m taking a service-learning based class called “Applications in Sustainable Development” that focuses on experiential learning and community involvement as a way to promote sustainability. Our class of about 45 students was divided into groups and given 9 choices of service-learning projects to work on all semester. For the first few weeks, we sat in the lecture hall and talked about how we define service learning and how we can make sure everyone (both the students in the class and those we are serving) get the most out of our project. After 4 weeks of lecture, they introduced us to our project partners and set us loose to develop our own plan for the semester.

All the projects seem really neat and they all have a different focus. One group is working with a battered women’s shelter, tutoring the women so they can go back to school. Another group is teaching school teachers how to use computers and word processing. The athletes in our class are using soccer drills to teach elementary kids about HIV and AIDS awareness.

My group (of four) is teaching environmental education at a primary school called St. Barnabas, located only 5 minutes walking from Galen’s campus. I’m teaching standard 3/4 (who are for the most part 8 and 9 year olds-my favorite age!) with Hannah Aitken, another international student from the University of Vermont. Hannah has more enthusiasm and passion for environmental education than anyone I’ve ever met, her energy is contagious and the only thing more fantastic than her dedication to environmental education is her laugh. I really lucked out on this one; my group is rad.

Hannah and I taught our first lesson (on biomes and ecosystems) last Wednesday, and I LOVED IT! We have 30 8-9 year olds who are all so bright, energetic, and pure! We got to the school a little early, and were just walking around the campus during their recess when a group of 4 girls (all with names after flowers: Daisy, Azalea, Jasmine, and Rose) ran up to us and hugged us! They call us Miss Tori and Miss Hannah, answer everything with “yes ma’am,” and every time we ask a question, 30 little hands shoot up in the air as they shout “miss! miss!” to get us to call on them!

I have so much real school work to do (I’m in the middle of midterms week right now), but all I really want to do is write more lesson plans and go play with these kids all day! I realized that I love working with kids and I LOVE talking about the environment, so this is perfect for me, and think this is probably going to be one of the best experiences I have while I’m down here.

Playing a game of “name-tag” with 31 standard 3/4 students

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