I have been teaching an after school class and I am really enjoying it. I am working with a wide age range of children, making dolls. Two groups are making things that are more three dimensional and the last group is making, at least at this point, dolls that are flat, like paper dolls. The later group is a bunch of boys really only a couple girls, and I thought they would just hate paper doll making. but they seem to love it. They are little enough that they like action figures and Star Wars types of Lego dolls and so forth. Earlier this week we made clothespin dolls with fabric clothes, but then sticking with the paper theme, I decided to do popsicle stick dolls with this group. First we glued on the googley eyes and then after I had them draw faces on theirs. The next step was the hair and finally they made clothes and shoes out of scrapbooking paper. I let them choose whatever they wanted from three different books of patterned papers, showed them how to make a shirt, pants or a dress or skirt. I tried not to intervene much, wanting them to develop their own creative ideas. Sometimes they don’t just want you to make it for them, but also to tell them every single step how to go about it, as a practice I try not to guide them much, give them a problem thematically and then let them explore the materials and ideas on their own. The thing is this week some of the kids have really surprised me, the little guy who made a cowboy out of his clothespin, complete with a way cool felt hat! It was awesome, and this other guy who made a Luke Skywalker popsicle stick today, totally rocked!! I loved it! I was thinking of my daughter when I made this strawberry dress doll, but then gave it my hair. Then as I sat there I decided that I really wanted to make a pirate to go with it. Then I took a picture at the end of the day and sent it to my guy (the pirate of course). He totally liked it.
I think that teaching in the afterschool program with much smaller classes has been really good for me as a teacher. The big classes I have everyday are sometimes cumbersome, and I am unable to give children the individual attention I want to. I do circulate and sit with some kids, but not all. The messier activities are so much better served by small groupings of kids. And since I am not all that experienced with three dimensional stuff (am a painter or doodler by nature, and am only just in the last three years have I done much 3-D work) it is a safe environment for me to try out lessons and to perfect what works and doesn’t for the whole grade level. I love it. It is good money, but the best part of it, is the practical experience and freedom to step out of the confines of having to prove what a great teacher I am for the observer. The ironic thing is, I think the kids learn so much more!