As an AmeriCorps Safe Families Instructor, part of my job is teaching Kid Safety classes. These include Kid Fire Safety, First Aid for Little People, Scrubby Bear (germs and hand washing), Home Alone and W.H.A.L.E. Tales (water safety).
My favorite school so far has been McKinley School in Cicero. The staff is the warmest I have met at any school. They have been tremendously grateful for the invaluable classes that I have taught there.
When I first taught Kid Fire Safety at McKinley, the students were highly engaging and surprised me with their intelligence. Maybe it is me getting older, but I did not realize how much kids know at such early ages. The Kindergarteners can be quite rowdy, but they are also highly engaging. They have forced me to innovate and cultivate my teaching skills to keep them focused. High energy and animation is the key that I have found. The second and third graders are full of life and truly seem to love learning. They hardly seem to need teaching sometimes and know the answers even before I get to the questions. It is inspiring to see children who enjoy going to school. We cannot count out the first graders who love to have fun and light up when a special presenter comes.
Since then I have taught Scrubby Bear and First Aid for Little People at McKinley. Teaching Scrubby Bear can be a lot of fun when you tell them that germs can be found EVERYWHERE! This includes their desks, chairs, computers, lockers, shoes, eyes, noses, mouths, the floor and their hands! Some classes have fun with it and exaggerate their reactions. These are my favorite classes because these students really enjoy the presentation. Sometimes it can get out of hand and I need to take on the role of a teacher to keep them from getting sidetracked and disrupting.
One of the best parts about teaching multiple programs at the same school is that you get to know the children and they get to know you. It feels wonderful when you walk into a classroom and the students remember your name and are excited that you are back! This especially helps after teaching thousands of kids. I still have not gotten used to the contrast between classrooms as well as the many similarities. One class can be very interactive and the next one can be silent. One class can be well-behaved and the next one unruly.
In the end, it is simply all about the kids. Each time I leave a classroom I hope that they will remember what I taught them and that if something bad happens, they will know what to do. Here’s to hope and making a difference!
Written Jason Schultz