Thursday, October 23, 2014
As a team, we are starting to prepare for session one. Materials are being prepared, Oonga Boonga and other songs are being practiced, “J is for Jumpstart” books are being created for session two, and team-planning meetings are frequent. All of this work can seem daunting, but it will all soon be worth it.
Today was the meet and greet for our team. We traveled in the morning to meet our group and got to finally see what we were learning about in training. It felt so amazing to see what all my work was going towards; that finally all my simulations of dealing with the children that have been going on for weeks now will be the real thing. That I truly can help these children; and so begins our journey with 22 wonderful “friends” as we call them (and they definitely are).
Amidst the chaos of preparing for session one, many of us on the Jumpstart staff are participating in the administration of the TOPEL exams. After about half an hour with the children I will be seeing twice a week for the rest of the school year, I had to adhere my testing duties. They will be fulfilled soon, and so again, it is worth it to see children progress in this learning process.
I was talking to a colleague as we headed for TOPEL and we both agreed as soon as we left the classroom, we felt some sort of protectiveness towards the kids. This feeling of pride that this was our classroom; that those were our children we were going to teach and make sure they will be prepared for next year’s learning. All of the work will be worth knowing these children will be successful one day, as I know they will. Now to just make it happen: I am ready for session one.
After plenty of preparation and teamwork, we are finally approaching the start of Jumpstart, and I could not be more excited. Our materials are coming together, our J for Jumpstart books are ready for presentation, and my group cannot wait to get into the classroom to start making a difference. Hopefully we can engage the kids in a way that sticks with them beyond our time in the classroom this year, and I can only imagine how happy I will be once the noticeable progress starts to set in. Especially with an age group so young and impressionable, we have to do our best to take advantage of their attention for the sake of cultivating their ideas into something that helps them in the formative years to come. On top of all of this, our team leader visited our site and was able to tell us how energetic the children are in our classroom, and I am sure that their boundless energy will act as a aid to the teaching that will occur over the next few months!
Wednesday, October 22, 2014
I spent much of my childhood around the women of the college soccer team that my mother coached. Before I started kindergarten, I had not been exposed to much diversity in my community. When an African American woman joined the soccer team, she fascinated me. One day we were playing a game; I was trying to guess which hand -- held behind her back -- contained a piece of candy. I ended up picking the wrong hand, but that didn’t matter to me. I was more preoccupied by her palm. I took her hand in mine and smoothed out her fingers, doing the same with my own hand. After a moment of comparing the two I declared, “It looks just like mine!” I was six years old and that was the first time that I realized that someone who looks so different form myself, could be just like me.
In a strange turn of events, I experienced that same kind of occurrence, though the roles were reversed. Last year, I was a corps member and the classroom I served in was an all-black classroom in Southeast D.C. One day a young student was sitting next to me on the carpet during Circle Time. He reached over and grabbed my arm, seemingly comparing his to mine. For several seconds he just stared, as if he was just realizing that we had two different skin colors. He looked up at me and asked “Why is our skin different?” I had to think of how best to tell a young child why his skin color was different than mine. I never got the chance to answer the question because he was promptly distracted by a chorus of Bingo and forgot all about his confusion over our different skin colors. Later that same day, he told me that he “loved doing Jumpstart!”, high fived me, and ran off to dramatic play. Those are the moments that make me love working for such a great organization. I can’t wait for the next year with my Jumpstart friends!
Tuesday, October 21, 2014
When I was in elementary school, I never realized how much effort my teacher put into each lesson, and I never knew what the purpose of anything was. I thought even less of preschool, it seemed like a day care my parents would drop me off at even though my mom stayed home and could have looked after me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved preschool, especially this one day where we dipped toy monster trucks into paint and then rolled them over these huge pieces of paper, I just did not think that much of it. After going through two weeks of Jumpstart training though I’m starting to realize how much thought had to go behind some of those activities.
Admittedly my preschool was not Jumpstart, I do not remember there being a heavy emphasis on reading, but I do remember an emphasis on colors and shapes and learning about families and the accursed sharing. I remember thinking it was cool how the colors changed depending on what our monster trucks ran over, and I vaguely remember my teacher being the one to ask me about that. So imagine my surprise when 14 years later I am being trained to point out the same thing to a child in another preschool.
From my training it has become so obvious that there is a lot that goes into early education, and I have had experienced such disbelief at the importance of everything that goes on in Jumpstart. There is one leader at my site that is just so into early education that it almost seems to be his entire life, and that is just so amazing to see in someone. I have only seen that sort of passion in a few people about any sort of subject, and he was the first person I met to be so educated and passionate about early education. And I would say most of the people I have met at Jumpstart are like him, either they are new corps members like myself or veterans of the program, but we are all really excited to be contributing to something like Jumpstart and are exited to finally meet the kids we will be working with over the next school year.
My only regret after joining Jumpstart are that I do not remember a lot of what I did in preschool and elementary school so I will never know how those teachers helped me become a college student.
Team Connection/ Exploration
Friday, October 17, 2014
I guess if I was going to describe the feelings I have going in to Jumpstart this year, they would be nervousness and excitement. I remember this time last year, where I was so confused with everything that I had to do, and I didn’t know what to expect going into the classroom. However, this year the nerves are different, and less intense. I guess it comes with the territory of being a returning jumpstart member, most of the fear is that I will go in feeling confident and prepared but then just get plummeted with horrible situations. However those are more of my deeper fears, and for the most part I am extremely excited to get back in the classroom. Something else I am very excited to start again is the classroom preps we do for the children. Cutting out shapes on colorful paper, building cardboard washing machines, stapling books, became a sort of therapy for me last year and I am excited to experience this inner quiet again. I am ready for difficult first two weeks, where both we and the children are attempting to come to terms with the workings of a Jumpstart classroom but I am excited for the days after as these children gain learning experiences through the Jumpstart curriculum.
This past month, I have been to so many Jumpstart trainings that have made me even more excited to begin my work with Jumpstart than when I first signed up. The training days have been both educational and fun at the same time; I was able to learn how I should interact with the three-year-old children alongside meeting my new fellow Jumpstart workers.
Just this week, my group started our J is for Jumpstart booklets for our children. In the beginning of Jumpstart, each child will be presented with a hand-drawn alphabet book filled with colorful drawings for each letter. Despite the amount of time, work, and hand cramps going into this project, I believe it will also be the most satisfying when we see the excitement on the children’s faces when they are presented with something made specifically with their enjoyment in mind.
I hope the attention and education I provide for these children who do not necessarily get the amount they need at home will help them in their future. Not only will they, hopefully, understand there are people out there thinking about their wellbeing, but they will be getting an opportunity to catch up with their more privileged peers and achieve the future they deserve. I just cannot wait to meet these children, see their excited faces, and impact their lives positively.