I should probably explain something, I was never trained as a teacher. I never took any education classes while in school and generally avoided kids under 14 unless absolutely necessary. I have no idea what drove me to apply for the job I currently have... most likely desperation and encouragement from a few friends already at Peaceful Paths. As unlikely as my role as facilitator/educator may have seemed, I'm generally enjoying it. Yes, I complain about the kids, they can be quite cruel at times, but I must say that this is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.
Unfortunately, shortly after I started my job, my boss left. She is an amazing person and continues to be a wonderful mentor and friend, but her departure nonetheless left me flying solo in a new job. I struggled to figure out how to do the sessions and how to go about utilizing the curricula we had laying around for me to consult. I somehow managed to run my 5 groups without too much feeling that I was screwing up the kids. It was fun, most of the time, but very overwhelming.
One of the resources that I've come to love is Teaching Tolerance. The site contains entries/submissions from educators across the country as well as articles from the experts (get this... the experts are actual teachers, school principles, guidance counselors, etc) on how to integrate civil rights and liberties topics into curricula. It also has a strong emphasis on teaching social change and helping students develop the skills to engage in community action, conscious media consumption, and critical analysis of current events. I'm loving the ideas and reading about the ways that educators are subverting the system and integrating some wonderful messages and topics to our youth.
Things have eased up a bit in the past week or so. All but one of my groups has wrapped up, at least until Jan. And in that group we're doing an activity called Progressive City Planners to further explore different forms of oppression, discrimination, and societal violence. Check the activity out. I'm excited about the discussion we're going to be having. This particular group middle schoolers is very smart, they never cease to blow my mind. Even has they manage to get under my skin and drive me nuts.