Today was my second day volunteering at the school, Ave Maria. What an interesting experience. Ave Maria is a school mostly for families and children struggling with money, finances, and children with behavioral needs. Last Wednesday was my first day volunteering, and it was very eye-opening. Well, today was just the same.
Comparing last week and this week, I would say this week was more of a struggle. I’m not sure what it was, the weather, or just the day, but the students were having such a difficult time today. When I first got there. I was happy to be greeted with hugs from the children, and surprised that most of them remembered my name. I am usually good with names and am trying my best, but with Spanish names it’s hard for me to understand unless I see them written down. There are so many silent letters and tildes, it’s hard to understand sometimes. But I am getting to know more students every week!
First I helped the younger students again. This time in art they were assigned to draw a picture of an activity the like to do in the wintertime. This could be skiing, snowboarding, skating, anything they wanted. Some were very focused on this activity and did a great job. One boy that I connected with last week, Antonio, did such a wonderful job, and what an artist! When we started the activity, Ana, the teacher, came over and told me that Antonio is great at drawing, and she was right. He drew mountains, with people snowboarding, a snowman, snowmobiles, a warming house, and a helicopter. And better than I could even draw, he was so talented and focused! I really see some potential in Antonio, and I hope he never gives that up. He could go far! Most of the children got through the activity just fine. Meanwhile, it was the older ones today that were struggling. While I was with the younger students in the back of the room, Ana is trying to help the older students. During this time, one of the older students was refusing to do his work, throwing pencils or erasers across the room, shouting at the teacher. I tell you, Ana has so much patience. She had to take him out of the room for a while, and then he got to come back in. Just when I thought he was starting to do his work, he walked over to the table I’m working at, pushes one of the boys heads to hit the table, and walks away. The student that got hurt was crying and screaming, and I went over to talk to him. He wasn’t hurt bad at all, a very small bump, but of course it would hurt to get your head banged into a table! And for no reason this older boy did that! Ana sent him out of the room. I’m not sure where he went but he must have had to go talk to the principal or someone else. The other boy stopped crying after about a minute and was perfectly okay to continue the rest of his work and talked with me a while. I’ve just never seen this sort of behavior before.
A little while later, it was time for the younger students to put there work away, get their belongings, and head outside for physical education. I think transitions is a big part of the issue. There is no order to putting their things away, students are wondering, playing, or running through the hallways. There is no lining up or waiting their turn, just everybody somehow get to physical education whatever way you can. I myself didn’t even know who to follow. There are students running in this room and that room, some going outside already, and some others pushing others in the hallway or getting in a fight. I need five clones of myself just to get them all to the patio!
Outside was almost as worse as inside was. Right away these two boys, who couldn’t be more than 8 or 9 years old, start fighting. And I mean kicking and kitting and pulling, so rough! And where was the physical education teacher? It was just me outside with them right now, meanwhile they have no equipment and don’t know what to do while they wait. Once I broke up that fight, I turn around and there was another one. It seemed today it was just a constant battle just to help them keep their hands to themselves. When they are doing something they like to do, there is no problem. It’s just if something makes them angry or frustrated, they don’t use their words…they use their actions right away and take it out on others. These young students….I want to help them so much but am at a loss about what to do. I’ve been thinking about these students all day since I have been done volunteering. Makes me a little emotional though, sometimes I fear something serious will happen to them when they fight.
Keep in mind I love being there with the students. It’s not all like this the whole time, it’s just today was a struggle. There are moments when I feel such a connection with the students, especially when I can get them to work together, or play with a new friend outside. It’s a great feeling. And I understand why these teachers are here. They are giving all they have to help these students who need it the most. These students just need someone to be there for them, someone to listen, someone to help, and someone just to care that they are here. Everyone was asking me to play tennis, basketball, or soccer with them. I had to split up all the time I had and give a few minutes to each one. I hope it’s paying off! 🙂
P.S. Tomorrow is my exam, I have been studying plenty and am hoping it goes well!