Letters from Camp: Kids These Days

Ideas for working with teen volunteersWe had two “Youth Teaching Assistants” (YTAs) attached to our group for the week.  10th graders with more self possession then I could have claimed at that age! The problem was, that made it hard to remember they didn’t’ have teaching experience, classroom management techniques they’d developed or the tips/tricks that come after time spent working with kids. I’m still figuring out how to best support younger interns/volunteers but a few ideas so far.

* Figure out what their interaction style is and what kind of direction they need. Do they feel comfortable stepping in? Do they want to be told exactly what to do? A friend told me that she was always branded as “unhelpful” because she didn’t take initiative, but she really was eager to do anything…she just needed to be told!

* Establish early on that you will be stepping in and guiding them. That way, they don’t take it personally if you help steer/correct an interaction in the classroom.

* Figure out how much autonomy and leadership they WANT. You probably want to ask as well as observe. Try to give them opportunities to stretch and take charge where appropriate.

* Give them breaks throughout the day. Sometimes they aren’t scheduled to have a lunch break etc. but everyone needs that if you are teaching all day!

* Make sure the kids respect them as authority figures. Set the ground rules that while they may be young, they are teachers. You might have to step in and remind both sides of this on occasion!

 

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