Today was a fun day. I got to help some kids I hadn’t really interacted with yet, and we seemed to get along pretty well. I worked with two girls, Teekah and Emily, and the boy Jalen who I’d worked with before. Parts of the day were challenging because Teekah and Elijah get on each other’s nerves and bicker a lot, which distracts both of them from their homework. Mrs. Rose asked me to take the three kids to the adjoining room so they could work with quiet. Jalen had to work on his spelling words and then write a letter to his pen-pal in China (Mrs. Rose has a sister who teaches at a school in China, and she’s having the kids write to those students), but he didn’t feel like working. Often I had to direct his attention back to his work, and after a while he begrudgingly did as he was asked. Emily is very intelligent and likes to help others, but many times I had to ask her to focus on her own work instead of others’. She had to look through a dictionary to label words as verbs, adjectives, or nouns, and a few times she said she gave up. It was definitely an exercise in patience, especially because I knew she was completely capable of figuring the answers out, but I feel we both benefitted from the experience.
Teekah had to finish a worksheet about mummies. I really enjoyed helping her, because at first she was discouraged because she didn’t know how to find the answers. Once I guided her on the first two questions, she finished the rest of the assignment all by herself, and was really proud of herself. It was great to see. After everyone finished their homework for the day, the class went down to the garden, which is a block or two away from the MOMs building. On the way, I was joking around with Elijah, Eric, and Jalen. They were showing me a new dance move they’d learned at school (it had a clever name that I’ve forgotten), and I showed them a silly dance I’d learned at camp. It was so much fun to just goof off around the kids and laugh at being crazy. Best of all, Mrs. Rose thought it was funny too, so the kids didn’t feel like they were doing something wrong. Often it seems a few of them don’t quite grasp the concept that not all times are appropriate for goofing off.
We got down to the garden and one of the boys, Sam, started talking to me about a video game he and his friends were playing. I was listening, but he was so animated about it that his sentences didn’t really make sense. I realized in hindsight that I wasn’t really employing the listening skills from class—I probably looked distracted, and didn’t give any input—but I’m not sure if he noticed. It’s definitely something that I have to be better aware of, though. Often when I’m listening to someone talk the only indication I’ll give is a few noncommittal grunts or “uh-huh”s, but if I was to be asked what they’d said, I couldn’t tell you. I’m learning that in order to keep up these helping relationships, I need to be constantly paying attention. They take effort to build.
On that same note, I am encouraged with how the kids I’ve been able to interact with seem to genuinely like having me around. Some seem hesitant to show it, but I can tell that slowly they’re warming up to me and the other mentors. It’s exciting to see this as well as my other goals becoming more real and reachable as each week passes. If my schedule allows, I’d love to continue this next semester. We’ll see though.