Our Summer Learning Place 2012 is in its last week. I have really enjoyed this year’s teachers and students. For some reason, everyone seemed to mesh really well. All of the teachers seemed to be on the same wavelength and constantly shared ideas and strategies. There were no major ego problems and all of the teachers really collaborated on their own rather than needing me to initiate any of this. I was truly impressed that all of them were usually there 30 minutes before they were required to be there and all usually stayed even after I had left. These teachers showed true commitment and responsibility throughout the program. I enjoyed seeing how different they all were compared to the first week. Unsure and anxious about what to expect (the unknown is always scary), they rolled up their sleeves and jumped right in to get to work. It was fun for me to watch them try different strategies looking for the right one that would work. By expanding their comfort zones, I think they will be better teachers in the future whether it is in a new classroom or returning to the ones they already have.
The children were a joy to see every morning. I loved the smiles on their faces as the looked forward to another day with us. Even getting compliments from the parents made my day. One parent even strongly requested that he be put on the mailing list so he could be notified when we would begin this again next year (we have this every summer). The students seemed to really flourish under the individual attention from the teachers (ratio of 1 teacher for 4 students) and even though we only met for 4 weeks, I can see a lot of academic growth that occurred. Parents have even commented on seeing their child progress positively which is what our goal.
The only sad thing that happened was that I had to remove a 7 year old from the program. He was uncontrollable and tried to run away several times. This prevented the teachers and myself from meeting the needs of the other students. The parents were frustrated too and I understand that but there was nothing I could do. I wish the parents had warned us about this behavior on the first day and we weren’t surprised when he tried to run away immediately. I spent the whole day restraining him from running away and was exhausted when his parents finally picked him up. His mother was under the impression that we dealt with behavior problems (he has had this all year and was being retained in 1st grade because of this behavior) and that we could “fix” him. I informed her that we couldn’t even work with him if we couldn’t get him in the classroom. After the 2nd day of this behavior, I had to send him home and inform the parents that this was not the right program for him. I know they were disappointed and I was too. I wish I didn’t have to do that but my hands were tied.
Overall though I believe this program was a success for the teachers and the children. Every year I send home a program survey to the parents so I can get feedback about this year’s program. Everyone came away with things they had learned. Thanks to the suggestions from parents and the teachers, I will be making a few changes for next year that will hopefully make the program even better.
Original Pictures by Pat Hensley