Monday, July 1, 2013

Summer Camp: Week 1 – Mr. Kingsley

So why am I working at a summer camp? Well, the money is nice and also because as much as I enjoy not working during the summer, I do love kids and teaching is something that I really do enjoy.

I proposed to my school to do a summer music camp but it didn’t run because not enough people signed up. While I was working up proposals for this camp and hoping that people would sign-up, I was also talking to one of my friends about working at the camp at the school that she worked at during the school year.

This other school is also an independent private school that embraces the progressive teaching philosophy. When my friend connected me with the summer camp coordinator they were really excited about the school that I taught at and got me in to teach two forty-five minute morning sessions Monday through Thursday.

These sessions would have a variety of ages from students entering second grade to students entering sixth grade. This last week I taught as session of second graders as well as mixed group of fifth and sixth graders.

Now I’ve actually never taught summer camp, been a camp counselor or gone to camp. The closest I ever got to camp was going to band camp at college. I have plenty experiences as a teacher so I figured I’d be fine. All I’d have to do is extenuate the Barney and Friends part of what I do and I’d be set.

While the week went well, there was a lot of adjustments that I had to make. These were kids that I was only working with one week so it wasn’t possible for me to really get to know them well. I did some name stuff but moved on from that  quickly since I had so little time to spend with them.

Classroom rules: I was sillier about them but I tried to make a point. The one rule was “don’t be a poo,” which did  them laugh but also drove home the point about being nice to each other.

I ended up doing a lot of screaming. Not angry, aggressive screaming, more jokingly frustrated screaming. It shook some kids up but they understood quickly that I was partially joking and being silly as part of the shtick that I was creating.

I wasn’t Mr. Tang their music teacher. I introduced myself as Mr. Kingsley, their musical guide as we had fun with music.

We started each session with a camp song, and did activities that I regularly do with my kids but simplified them for the context and didn’t explain learning connections. I also wasn’t as concerned with teaching them long-term organization skills and how to behave in a classroom. We are in camp. While I needed order, the last thing I wanted was for my kids to feel like we were in a music class.

With the silly camp songs, screaming, random youtube.com clips and my manic energy, we had a lot of fun. Some kids left thinking I was really weird, which was fine since most of the kids left with smiles.

I got summer a full of camp coming up, so its going to be an interesting ride. Next week it’s a short week, but then I’m starting to work with the musical theater camp. 

This is going to be interesting.

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