I believe that it is important to remember the experience of growth, not just the lessons that come from it.
I’m sixteen and I intern teaching kids who are a mere four or five years younger than me. As a friend, it is easier for me to win their respect than it would be if I were twenty-five. However, as a teacher, it’s taken a little more work.
My tendency is to be friendly and work toward getting to know the kids. However, as important as that is in good teaching, my age keeps me from forming such a close relationship with them. I have to maintain the professionalism that is often broken down between student and teacher; if I don’t I’m afraid I’ll be viewed as an immature teenager by adults and as simply an older classmate by my students, not as a mature teacher’s aid. I’m forced to establish a barrier between the kids and I that’s thicker than that line typically between adults and the kids they work with.
However, this wall has created problems of it’s own. I find that I often totally forget that the students have fully capable minds of their own. Frequently, I find myself instead, viewing them as two-dimensional characters. Sadly, when I look around at the teachers that surround me, I realize that more of them than I had previously thought do the same thing.
As a student, I know what it feels like to be seen as a cardboard person, however, and I should know better. It seems I got so caught up in establishing myself in the world, I forgot that everyone else is somehow experiencing the same struggle I am. I forgot what it’s like to be the kid and focused too hard on being an adult, when really, I’m both.
This past Friday, two of the kids were working on a project for my mentor. As they cut out Velcro pieces, they began singing all sorts of goofy songs. After laughing at them a few times, I heard a song I recognized. I walked over, grabbed scissors and some Velcro, and joined in the singing. I walked away with more respect as a person.
A child cannot be expected to know what it is to be any older than they are, but an adult should never forget what it is to be a child. This, I believe.
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