During the summer between grade 9 and grade 10, I volunteered in the YIS summer school program. I was assigned to be an assistant for Mr. McKeown in middle school math and Ms. Elaine in kindergarten. My schedule from Monday to Friday for two weeks was getting to school in the morning, and helped the middle school students with math, then ate lunch, after lunch I have a 1-hour free time where I would just read a book somewhere, then run out to play with the little kids when they finished eating, enjoyed the rest of the afternoon with the kindergarten class.
I felt really awkward the first day, especially during the recess of the kindergarten. I didn’t know any of the kids so I felt worried about going up to them because I wasn’t sure if they would be scared of me and if they wanted to play with me, I didn’t know how to approach them. I saw a little girl who was playing by herself so I decided to go up to her, I asked her her name and introduced myself, she was very shy at first but I could see that she felt more comfortable when I introduced myself, she grabbed my hand and wanted me to play with her. Having a younger brother benefited me because I have some experience interacting with kids and so I was able to get along with them and the kids seemed to really like me. Throughout the volunteer, I interacted with them more and by the end of the week, I was surrounded by them. I could see that they were excited to be there every day; I looked forward to every day too.
The middle school math class was a completely different experience from the kindergarten. I found it harder interacting with the middle school kids because most of them were only 1 or 2 years younger than me. Also, math is not my strength so I was a bit worried that I wouldn’t be able to answer their questions, but Mr. McKeown told me that it is perfectly fine if I didn’t know the answer, even as a teacher, because teachers don’t always know everything as well. This made me feel less worried and understand that everyone can be everyone’s teacher, even if it is a subject that you are very confident in, there will always be new things to learn.
This was a meaningful experience, I was able to put myself in the shoes of a teacher. I had a mixture of feelings during the first few days, I felt worried that the students would not like me or if I wasn’t able to answer their questions, however, I was excited at the same time. This got better throughout the 2 weeks, I learned that it is ok to make mistakes and not know the answer to a question even if you are the teacher, I realised that once you start feeling comfortable and open up, the students will feel more comfortable around you and want to be with you as well. This learning can help me in other situations in the future where I have to meet new people and work with others.
Here is a video I put together of us having a great time!