Lessons Learned in the Core Child Program

Children are highly engaged in story time Last week marked the second half of the Fall 2014 session, which means children in the Core Child PM program began the second rotation in the afternoon program. TYO's afternoon curriculum was designed to teach children the major themes of self and communication through a holistic approach over a six week period. Each teacher focuses on a different medium through which to teach the overreaching themes- such as art, drama, sports, and health. The session is divided into two rotations, each emphasizing the same themes, but through a different medium.

As a former volunteer-turned Core Child Program Teacher, Mai reflects on her experiences and the changes she observed in children now that the session has reached the mid-way point:

The role of Core Child Teacher is much different then that of volunteer. As a volunteer, you are only really responsible for a small group of students. Even if the teacher is giving you time to practice leading the class, ultimately the teacher is there to regain control of the classroom should anything happen. But as a teacher, you need to change your perspective to include everyone in the class at all times- including the volunteers. You must learn how to balance engaging the children while ensuring the volunteers are doing their job in supporting you as a teacher.

This session has been an incredible learning process for me, but through my observations of the children, it's clear they've also been taking in a lot as well. As this was my first week with a new group of students, already there's been such a stark contrast from the very first week of the program. At the beginning, at least a quarter of my class was very shy and unwilling to participate. We worked very hard those first few weeks to develop their sense of self and comfort with their peers. This really helped in allowing the children to feel more comfortable in the classroom and open up to each other as peers. The rotation is the real test of how well the teacher has prepared the class during the previous six weeks. By fostering an environment in which children develop connections with one another and feel a sense of belonging to the group, the teacher is able to lay the groundwork for resilience, which is needed so students adjust easily to working with a new teacher in the next rotation. But beyond easing children's adaptation to a new classroom and a new teacher, TYO's children are particularly in need of resilience training. Living in an such an unstable environment as Palestine, where the political future is often unknown, in order to be well-adjusted adults, the concept of resilience must be rooted at an early age. Coping with uncertainty becomes an inherent part of life for Palestinians. Resilience ensures children (and adults are able to work through these hard times).  I wasn't sure what to expect with my new group of students at the beginning of the second rotation- but it's clear they've retained so much from their first six weeks- now I'm looking forward to another successful rotation where children can learn and grow together!

- Mai Masood, Core Child Teacher and Jessica Dargiel, Deputy Director