Blog # last

Three weeks come and gone and it seems like we should still be in preparation for this project.  It all happened so fast, and now it’s over.  Service-learning has been so stressful and rewarding all in one, and pieces of me don’t want it to be over.

I’m not sure, but I don’t think any of my 2nd and 3rd graders had ever had opportunity to share something completely theirs with their parents. Maybe they didn’t know that their opinions had voice, maybe they did.  But now they’re certain that they can express what they feel through public speaking. They can develop an idea, and figure out the best way to express their “two-cent” to the world…Or even to their teacher, parent, or peer.  I think and would hope this project, designed so that we work with them and encourage them, has given the kids confidence and courage to speak up again and again.  It’s also my hope that they’ve developed a feeling of obligation to changing their communities and lives.

A lot of times we view public speaking as making presentations or giving speeches, but I think my public speaking knowledge and skill was tested each day.  Learning to adapt to environments and audiences is something that can’t really happen just in a classroom: the audience remains the same: students and a teacher.  But knowing, first, that my audience each day as I explained the project, set guidelines and consequences was a group of 2nd and 3rd graders shaped the words and tones I used.  Then, learning each kid individually directed my voice as well as punishments/rewards given in response to certain actions.  And in having to adapt daily, my need for uniformity was challenged and – eventually – changed, if only a little, for the better. 

So public speaking made changes from the outside in: on the kids’ part, hopefully they felt empowered by knowing an audience heard their concerns and desires and wil continue to seek change in their lives and communities; and on my part, my too-strict need for consistency was loosened. 

Kaitlyn Gaddis


P.S. A realization

I realize that I get so frustrated with children who have little to no attention span because I have little to no attention span.  I want to be able to help one kid, move to the next and come back. I like to circulate.  But some of our friends need more direct and constant attention.  And I’ve realized that’s hard for me to give. 😦

Blog #9

Ok, it’s the last week.  I’ve already started planning in my head how I’d continue to see “my kids” in the afterschool program.  I just can’t leave em…and I won’t.

This week, the kids have got to finish with audio recording and video record their music video/documentary-type thing.  For the most part, unfortunately, two-cent and Dr. Louis’ll be working with them creatively while Charnia, Terry, Averis and I stay strong with homework completion.  We asked them Friday to bring a change of clothes.  And I realize now we should’ve gotten their home numbers so we could call for a reminder (if that would’ve been possible).  But, hopefully they’ll all have changes of clothes tomorrow for the video and can be pulled out several at a time to record.  Brandon is really pretty much in charge of this project now as far as direction of the video.  “Supa(?)” said he’d try to come again tomorrow.  But, of course, we can’t put too much responsibility on him or obligate him to anything because he’s offering his time. And he’s just in high school.  He might have curfew or something.  Oh no wait – that’s us.  (he he he)

Anyway, I plan on driving every day this coming week so that I can, if necessary, stay later than the van.  Wednesday I’ll have to leave early (maybe 4:30ish – I have something for church).  But I will be there everyday this week and probably staying a little late each time.

Kaitlyn Hope

Post #8

The second week with the second and third graders has been a challenge still, as well as a reward.  Our little friends are really letting their personalities shine through, and we’re learning how best to handle them. 

Some observation not completely related to service-learning: I don’t know if these kids have experienced patience and kindness and full blown attention.  I think, perhaps, that’s why they’re acting the way they are.  The adults who stay after school with them, I’ve seen holler, flirt, casually converse when the kids should be focusing, and get really frustrated with the children.  Some parents are very impatient and hurried when they come to pick thier children up.  I hate sometimes to be the one who says, “Sit down and not a word out of you until homework is finished,” we have to at times. While at first I believed that we excited the kids to disarray because we were new people and faces, I feel that there never was order after school for these kids.  Probably because Ms. Kaplan and Ms. [sounds like coffee] were two women trying to control a bunch of attention-deprived kids.

My heart is, of course, a tad broken because we won’t be working creatively with the students anymore.  We’re too understaffed and overworked to do it.  But, I do still enjoy working with the kids for homework.  They’re full of love – however aggravating, and disorderly that are.  Some come in, do their work, and are extremely self-motivated while others need some help, and others – just want someone to stare at them and hug them.  The system of separating the two age groups has helped slightly with completing homework: it helps me to feel that there’s some organization at least. 

Honestly, this week has been hectic.  But my reward is in knowing that these kids know we’re there to help them, and they want to joke with us, and hug us, and see us everyday.  I like to think I’m growing up a little bit over this short time: developing patience, and learning to fully acknowledge what’s under the surface…

Kaitie Gaddis

P.S. Corniece makes me worried for public schools – even public schools like Lafayette.  She’s the most well-behaved child in the entire 2nd and 3rd grade group.  She stays on task, does her homework, and – goodness! – she’s such a sweetie.  But everyday she comes in, and she’s had to flip her behavior card. At least once.  The stories she tells me are ridiculous…but she tells them with guilt.  She being conditioned to think she’s misbehaved…Grrr.

Post #7

(I’m going to include a little recap in the projection blog even though it’s supposed to deal with the week ahead of me because I didn’t this piece of information in the last blog.  On Friday, I established tables for 2nd and for 3rd graders and that they would all start off on the same subject at the same time.  I told them that they were to stay in their chairs unless given permission to move.  The consequence will be that students who disobey or disrupt will be sent to the library to finish homework.  We’ll see how this works.)

Now – for this week.  We have yet to select a beat for the song we’re going to write, so we may just have to being composing with no music.  We’d like to say we’ll wait, but maybe we won’t be able to.  On Friday, we had a talent show (because it was Friday and as soon as I walked in I saw that trying to conquer their attention deficit would’ve been suicide).  I saw that most of our kids aren’t completely shy, and they really are into what they said they enjoyed: a couple dancers, some rappers, and singers.  What I really liked was that, as one song came on – as soon as the beat dropped – they all sang.  So, this video should be easy once we get rolling.  This week, we’ll work separately with dancers, rappers, and singers to teach them lyrics and dance moves for our video.  After our talent show, I asked the children to draw pictures of students doing the right things that they suggested for avoiding conflict and respecting teachers, or show them doing the wrong thing – and Averis brought to my attention that we could incorporate that into the video.  On Friday, they worked with pencils.  Today, hopefully, they’ll finish them off with color.  They illustrated their pictures on the backs of the papers.

So, this week – we’re finishing our drawings, picking a beat for our song, choreographing a video, andrehearsing, rehearsing, rehearsing!

Kaitie Gaddis – Goup 2nd and 3rd

Blog #6

So, everyone has probably – by now – heard me mention that I am a creature of habit and structure.  I like things to be the same, and for them to be entirely organized.  I can already see the benefit this service-learning project will have for me and the growth it will inspire.  Not saying that growth won’t be frustrating or tiresome.

As for concrete responses.  I’m not surprised at the amount of homework our students have everyday, but I am shocked at how short their attention spans are.  Not like I was epxecting 2nd and 3rd graders with the work ethic of high schoolers, but they are a little more off-task than on at most times.  And the biggest challenge is how “understaffed” our group is.  We can’t give as much specialized attention because our group is pretty large and we’re small in number.  So, when not paying attention to one, she falls off task – and in getting her back on track we lose another one.  This makes it hard to get through homework and to transition, when the time comes, to service learning. 

They all decided that fighting/bullying in school was a problem, as well as respecting teachers.  And, they decided to sing/rap a song.  And, of course, Luis will break dance.  Problem is, with their attention span, and at the ages of seven and eight, I’m not sure how (especially with the time we have) we’ll be able to have them write a complete song.  But, I don’t want the song to be our (Xavier kids’) work.  I’d like it to be crafted by them, but can it be?

Tomorrow hopefully we can get some serious work done because – I’m assuming they won’t have any homework.  Let’s just hope that we won’t deal too badly with the Friday Syndrome.


Kaitie Gaddis

Post #5

So Lafayette is here.  That’s exciting news and frightening news because I’m thinking about the wonderful possibilities, and all of the avenues for failure (for lack of a less harsh word). 

The very first day, I think, should always be getting-to-know-each-other day.  It’s when we, Xavier students, can analyze the group of children we’re dealing with (are they shy? is someone a visual artist? a theatre student? can they dance? will they open up?) and set the tone for the next three weeks.  It’s also when these kids get their first (and lasting) impressions of us as a group of students and as individuals…

What HAS to happen?  We have to hear them and clearly establish what “issue” we’ll be addressing to an audience on November 21st (when I, sadly, will be en route to my cousin’s FL wedding).  We have to have, at least, ideas for the the final product.  Xavier students should have, by Wednesday, a detailed outline of what we’ll be working toward and all it will require.

What we plan to do is, first, an ice breaker.   A name/memorization game in which each person introduces him or herself and shares something about his or her life.   I’ll be jotting down different things as people share, and in the end we’ll all try to remember names and characteristics of our group.  Terry’s going to specifically introduce the group and then we’ll jump right into the two-cent activity.  After that, we’ll all share and discuss, decide on a topic, and brainstorm on the final product.

So, we need to get to know them, and what kind of change they plan to effect.  They need to know we’re there to help them make an impact (and finish their homework), and we need to work hard and work fast.

And that’s the world according to Kaitlyn. (he he)