October 14, 2014

Week 4: Words to Add Meaning

The students are looking at their world in a new way.

This week's lesson was about how words can add more meaning and context to photos. We talked about captions and their ability to tell who, what, where, when and how. And ironically, the students wrote their own words to me and my fellow teacher, Leah, after class. They were to apologize for being rude during the lesson by talking during the lesson and not paying attention. It was at the request of Allison, our Teaching Fellow, who works for Citizen Schools.

Apologies from the class

One of the hardest parts of being a Citizen Teacher is learning what the difference is between "being a kid" and disrespectful behaviors. You're typically more lenient with the students because you expect them to be kids. You expect some disruption.

The great news is your Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow is there to help. To help with classroom management, help keep the students focused and on task and help you craft your lessons so the students' energy levels are managed appropriately. Teach a little, then an activity. Teach a little more then another activity. The key is to keep them engaged and interested. My Teaching Fellows have been my lifesavers. I respect them so much.

No one expects you to know how to be a school teacher overnight. It's hard work. Much harder than you likely anticipated. But thankfully, Citizen Schools helps prepare you and walks you through the process week after week. You're supported from day one. So then you can support the students to become amazing adults.

October 2, 2014

Week 3: Foundations

A portrait of leading lines.

This week is the big week. The foundational week. This is the week we teach the major concepts they'll practice the rest of the apprenticeshipelements of composition. Rule of thirds, leading lines, shooting angle and patterns are terms we'll be using over and over, hoping the concepts are taking root.

This week was also a little less crazy in the classroom. You never know what it will be like from week to week. Who knows what might have happened that day before you got there, what kid might be having a rough time at home and is acting out or maybe it's been smooth sailing. Regardless, it's never anything you can't smile through because it's so much fun to be with the students. The energy the children bring is infectious.

One of the reasons I love teaching in the fall is because we can go outside to take pictures one or two weeks before Winter settles in. This week was an outside week. Naturally the kids seem a little like caged animals who were just freed from captivity. Fresh air! No walls! But eventually they settle down enough to get down to businesstaking pictures with their tablets.

One student's picture from this week. An excellent example of shooting angle.

I love watching the students take their pictures. Sure, they take pictures that aren't really part of the assignment. The allure of snapping your friends is just too great. But when they come to you to show you their "real" shots and you can see they're getting it, that the concepts you just taught them are sinking inthere's just no feeling like it. The impact you can have, to teach a child something you love. To share something you know they've never been exposed to before and, possibly, wouldn't ever have if you hadn't decided to teach.

Almost everyone can remember that one teacher you had who opened your eyes, taught you something magical. I can only hope I might be that teacher for a student someday.