As the older brother of a 12 year old 6th grader, I thought that I was fully prepared for our 5th grade teaching experience. As it turns out, I completely underestimated the power of the masses. One 5th grader is a bit easier to handle than an entire class!
My experience started out in an interesting manner. Somehow, I managed to get isolated next to the entire class that we were teaching while outside of the classroom. Of course, they had plenty of questions for me. One student in particular was quite inquisitive and asked me if we were licensed to teach the class! Needless to say, I didn’t expect the question and I struggled to find an answer. At this point it seemed that the score was 5th graders-1, Kyle-0. However, I followed the sage advice of a peer of mine and didn’t let them smell my fear.
Once we made it into the classroom, things seemed to settle down a bit as the kids enjoyed the movie clips that we selected. There were several “oohs and awes” as the Indiana Jones nuclear explosion clip played and some moans as the dog was saved in Dante’s Peak.
As the clips were winding down and we began to divide into discussion groups, I realized that we had 5 teams of discussion leaders and 6 tables to discuss with. Somehow I was isolated again, but this time it wasn’t quite as unnerving. My group of 4 students was very intelligent. They already knew all about pyroclastic flow from volcanoes and they also were able to list the four layers of the Earth. The only outrageous question that I received came from a young man who asked me what would happen if a unicorn’s horn was cut off. I referred that question to the unicorn expert, Dr. Pillar.
All things considered, the teaching experience was very positive and enlightening. I feel that the kids learned a lot about science in films and I was able to learn from the kids as well. Working in elementary education is not one of my career ambitions, but I certainly enjoyed the experience for one day!