I have a small phobia of teaching/facilitating groups with youth under 10. I'm afraid I'm going to scar them for life, or damage their sweet innocent little brains or they'll eat my soul. Although, I sold that long ago, so this fear is possibly invalid and the most irrational. To top it all off, I don't really know how to talk to them. I don't speak their language. This fun fact about me came out during a staff meeting last month as we were discussing my slow (and not so successful) development of a violence prevention curriculum for Elementary aged youth. Da boss, and da BIG boss decided that all I needed to get over my fear was more practice. Hence the signing up for career day at M.K. Rawlings Elementary School in Gainesville. I've also been permitted to 'borrow' some coworker's 5 year olds. Oh, joy!
The panic didn't really set in until I received an email from the coordinator giving me some ideas for talking points. The big one being "What education did you need to prepare you for your career?" The degree I used for acquiring me job was my B.A. in Women's Studies. HOW DO YOU EXPLAIN WOMEN'S STUDIES TO EIGHT YEAR OLDS?! Many college students can't seem to wrap their heads around what this is. How in the world could I break this down into kid friendly speak? I called Mom in a frenzy. We decided to explain it like this:
"You all have learned about the founding fathers, right? Well, do you know anything about the founding mothers? I studied the work and lives of the founding mothers. Not just in our country, but in other countries around the world. I learned their special stories and about why they're often hidden from the histories that we all learn in school. Pretty cool, huh?!"
This explanation went very smoothly. There was no glossy look in their eyes. I even heard a couple of them whisper "cool". We did several activities that we'd do with our groups (made age appropriate of course. No talk of dating relationships, instead of friendships). We played telephone to explore a new big word, communication, and talked about why being clear with our messages is so important. I had one student tell us she could read minds. Which, she failed to read mine, so I think she might have been being silly.
On a whole, the entire experience went VERY well. Thanks to Mom for helping me prep and Da Boss for bailing me out when I ran out of ideas on how to simplify my language and froze. The interns observed and reported that I did fairly well. With only a minor sense of panic and terror in my eyes. I only slipped up and used words that were too advanced a few times, but we turned that into a vocab lesson. We learned 'communication', 'confidential', 'parental figure', and 'compromise'. The kids used them in sentences when they were telling us about their experiences. Go team!
Kids can be cool and aren't really anything to be afraid of, I'd just rather stick to talking to teens. I can use big words and be cool for occasionally saying 'shit'.