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    • I have had a great experience at Lucille Brown Middle School so far! I am working with a sixth grade class. Initially, I was so surprised by how small they all were. Most of them are only eleven years old, I guess its been so long since I was eleven, I forgot how young that really is! They all still have a lot of youthful energy which is awesome. Sometimes, it can be hard to keep them under control. But when you can channel that energy into something productive and positive, the results are amazing.

      We recently began working on our service learning project. Our focus is conflict resolution. In the end, we are hoping the students will serve as peer mediators for the entire sixth grade! Last week, I led the students in a conflict resolution activity. A few student volunteer would act out different conflict scenarios, and then as a class, we had to decide on the best response – the best way to resolve the conflict. I was so happy with the activity! The students were really excited about it, and they did a great job. I was impressed with how seriously they took their task. They came up with some great, effective responses. I am proud of the progress our class has made so far. I look forward to continuing our project!

    • Over the course of this semester, I’d say that I have gained a great deal. My involvement at Fairfield Middle School has exposed me to new experiences and I’ve surely learned many lessons. If I had to choose one, I’d say the most important thing I’ve learned in the past few weeks is the significance of differentiation in teaching. Going into my practicum classroom, I was aware that not all students learn in the same way. However, I never took it into consideration when planning lessons and activities for students.

      Because I am completing two practicums at once, I see a large number of students on a weekly basis. In the high school, I work with upper-level honors and AP students. On the other hand, I work with six grade special education students at Fairfield Middle School (FMS). Because of this, it had become a bit of a struggle switching from one mode (upper level) to the next (lower level). In the early weeks of my time at FMS, I found myself not expecting much from these students. Due to preconceived notions that I had, I felt as if they would need to be babied and carried through every lesson. As the weeks progressed I went from one extreme to the next, and ended up expecting too much for their levels of learning. I’m saying all of this to say that I ultimately had to realize that I must change up my methods in order to fit their learning styles. Of course they have a great capacity to learn and do well, just as my high schoolers. However, they require more guidance and structure so that they can get to that point. It was a perfect lesson learned about differentiation and I will be sure to consider it in all of my future classes.

    • When I went into this course, I had not the slightest inclination of what Service Learning was. It seemed an odd concept and at first I confused it with community service. However, through this experience I have learned that it is so much more than that. This way of instruction is about improving a child’s education by making meaningful connections to his or her environment, while using this information to better the community. The students’ I have been working with at Lucille Brown are clever and ready to assist. I was taken aback the eagerness they had and their desire to help with this project. Every meeting they continue to bring great ideas they. Prior to working with these students, I spent all my time thinking of what I needed to teach them and how to make this important to them. Instead I have found, that I have learned a great deal from them about community and the joy of serving.

    • The most important thing I learned this semester in my service-learning experience is that I would not have a problem working with middle school students. Starting this experience, I was nervous about working with middle school students because I had substituted in the past at a middle school and those students were rambunctious. I was also concerned because I know behaviors can change every other day in a middle school class. I went into the experience thinking it was going to be the same, and I was pleasantly surprised when I was wrong. These students I am working with are interested and engaged in most of the breakfast awareness material for the service learning project, especially because it applies to them. The class seems like a family. I learned from working with the middle school students that it is important for the classroom to have a familial environment. It makes the students take pride and ownership in the class.
      I was also afraid that I would not have the temperament to work with middle school students, and I have found that I do. I enjoy working with these students because they entertain me with some of the things that they say. I learned in order to have this familial, jovial type of environment, the class has to have good structure, and the teacher in the class I am working in provides this. A good structure will help with having the temperament to work with the middle school students. These students do not misbehave to the point where they make me upset. I actually found myself enjoying and looking forward to going to the middle school.

    • The most important thing I’ve learned from this experience is more about what’s it’s like to be a teacher and the sort of teacher I want to become. Teachers have many responsibilities, which include teaching students the content area, practicing effective and consistent classroom management skills, and being a role model for their students. Through my experience in this practicum, I’ve learned of the importance of fostering and maintaining a stable, supportive relationship with all students. As a result, they will likely feel more comfortable in discussing any issues and behave better in class. During my time at the middle school, the students I have worked with have opened up over time about various things in their lives such as interests and hobbies. They have been respectful and kind with no behavioral issues. As a result, I have made it my goal to become more personable with my students in the hopes that it will better my teaching experience and their learning experience.

    • I have had a couple “aha moments” during my experience with my service learning practicum. It is so hard to just pick one to share. If I had to choose the one that resonates the most, it would be the first experience I had working with a student on the stall seat journal. The student was putting the graphics and little blurbs on a poster about why it is important to eat breakfast and to eat healthy in general. We were working before school, and the student was very energetic in the morning and ready to work on the project. Seeing the student get really involved and engaged in the project made me remember that I want to inspire this type of reaction with my subject matter: Social Studies. Social Studies can sometimes be seen as a boring subject, much like the importance of eating breakfast can be. This moment working with the student helped me to see that if I can make the importance of eating breakfast somewhat relevant and engaging for the student, then I may be able to do it for history.
      While working on the poster, the student was very interested in making the poster colorful and eye catching. The fact that the student did not do the bare minimum made me really happy and excited that I could help instill the pride in the student to give his or her best effort, even if the subject may not be very interesting. This has emboldened my desire to be a teacher because I want to instill in students that they can and should put forth their best efforts in all situations. This moment made me happy and confident that I can be a teacher, and hopefully, I will remember this moment when I hit rough patches in the future.

    • Working with youth has always been my “thing.” But as I briefly mentioned in my last post, this service-learning project has been my first real experience working with SPED students in this capacity. This semester has really helped open my eyes to see that not all children think and function in the same ways. What works for some students doesn’t always work with others. Needless to say, I had some struggles adjusting to different methods of teaching.

      The major “aha!” moment I had occurred on a day that I was leading instruction for the service-learning project—a social justice fair. The activity was to start drafting up fliers to post around school that would promote our big event in December. I told the students to think of ways to try and make people want to come to our event: things we could say on the flyer. Then, I set them loose to draft their ideas. After what seemed like a long while (maybe too long of a while), I collected their drafts and the bell rang. As I read through the fliers, I realized that the students were not actually advertising, but merely writing down stuff about the project (not exactly what I was looking for). I admit, I was a bit disappointed because we had spent so much time on something the students weren’t even clear on. That’s when my mentor teacher pulled me to the side to have a chat. She reminded me that these students need a little more guidance and specific instruction, not the open ended free-for-alls that I was basically giving them. So, I modified the activity and tried again with the next class.

      The second time around, I actually guided the students to develop what the fliers needed to say and wrote it on the board as we went. I then showed the students examples of what real fliers look like, how they are structured, and what information is to be included. In no time these students began to think of clever catch phrases and persuasive statements to draw attention to our event. The lightbulb had come on, not only in their heads, but in mine as well. My professors have assigned plenty of readings on differentiation and modification in the classroom. However, it hadn’t become real until this exact moment. Once my students realized that they had gotten the hang of the activity, they became so excited and motivated to do even more. Their excitement was contagious, for this was the reason I decided to become a teacher in the first place. It is so fulfilling to see your own lessons make sense and actually reach students. Though the world is such a large place, these moments remind me that I can still make a difference.

    • I haven’t had a “aha” moment, but an experience I encountered with this service learning experience is dealing with the majority of the students working with us on our project. There was one time in particular that reminded me why I wanted to become a teacher. When all of us were working on the project we’re building, something we had to do was to collect various materials. Some of the students readily volunteered to pick some of the stuff up. All of us thought it was a great idea and allowed them to bring in some. At the next meeting, they came through with their promise and brought many materials we could use. The passion that those students had and still have for this project is unmatched and encourages me to participate to my fullest extent. It also brings a smile to my face and working with them is the best part of my day. The commitment they bring to every meeting and the passion for wanting to make a difference in their community is something I want to encourage in my students and is the reason why I want to become a teacher. I want to make a difference in a student’s life and so far I think that has occurred among many of them, fueling my decision to continue down this path.

    • I think the biggest “a-ha” moment I have had so far is just realizing how much a little attention can mean for a student. Just saying hello or asking about their day means a lot. I think it just goes to show that the “relationship” aspect of teaching is so important. You want your students to feel comfortable with you, you want them to trust you. If you show an interest in their lives, the students will know that you care.

      I have noticed this some during my experience at Lucille Brown. I started just asking students about their days/lives, and now I have noticed more and more students coming to talk to me. By expressing an interest in their lives, the students feel comfortable around me and are excited when I come to class. 

    • Albert Hill Middle School is a welcoming place both in the student body and staff. From the second I stepped through the impressive front doors I knew I would be successful. My opinions of the students I have had the pleasure of working with have not changed, they are fun loving, easy going, and determined to help in whatever way they can. The students took little time in agreeing upon their service learning project (a school rain garden) and from that point on we took off!
      Our project required a lot of physical work and once we finally had the garden in the ground we took some time to reflect on the entire project and our efforts. The students had an overwhelmingly positive reaction to the service learning project; claiming it to be more fun than,”…regular school could ever be.” They agreed that service in their community was a good idea because, “Sometimes you get paid, but mostly you get paid by other people’s happiness.” It was wonderful to hear that the students are developing empathy as well as an interest in connections to the longevity of their community. When pressed further about ideas of community, the students again had very thoughtful responses. The students believed it is important to be a part of the community because, “…It’s a group of people that you live with and if you’re not helping you’re not a part of it.” The students are drawing real connections from the service learning to their community project and hopefully establishing lifelong habits.
      The students only had a few suggestions to improve the service learning project as well as one or two negative aspects. Collectively they agreed they didn’t like the clay in the soil. It made digging more difficult! However their idea to improve the project (and I agree with them) is more time! They want more time learning and working on the garden. They expressed a desire to have classroom time set up in a similar manner, too! Their reflections have shown me that they crave an environment that fosters learning and creativity equally!

    • My students seem to really enjoy the project. They all seem to learn that eating breakfast was important, and they enjoyed making posters to share this information. The big take away for them was that eating breakfast would help them in school and in sports. Many also liked getting out of class to hang up the posters; they took pride in the posters they made. For them to care about their work was very refreshing for me. They all really enjoyed having the dietician come to the class and share healthy breakfast options. I have had numerous students ask if she could come back to the class. The students did not like having to focus on healthy foods as much and having to get up early to do some of the project. When I was preparing for the project, I had expected these responses because these responses are typical. I thought the experience went really well and felt they enjoyed it. I was especially happy they enjoyed researching why breakfast is important. I thought they would hate that part, but luckily, they seemed to like working with partners and finding out information. Perhaps it was different from their usual assignments. I was also apprehensive about making the posters because I thought they would have trouble using the online program, but again they surprised me with being able to figure it out for the most part by themselves. This service-learning experience could have been improved for my students by better structuring of hanging the posters. It was a free for all where they were running all over the place. If I had a chance to redo it, I would have had them pick partners and a section of the building’s bathrooms to hang the posters.
      The service-learning experience has not changed my view of the school or students. I came into this experience thinking that they seemed to care about their school and what they do, and this project cemented this even more. I do not think my views have changed because I went into the experience with an open mind. My initial views were that I should try not to attempt to perceive the students as problem students and as not willing to work. I think the biggest thing that has impacted this experience was the community in the school. The school has a strong sense of community from what I have seen. They do a lot of events and community projects. I think if the school did not have such a strong community, then the project would not have been as enjoyable or successful.

    • Overall, the student reaction has been positive towards our service learning project. I asked the students a few questions to reflect on their experience with the project this semester. Most of the students were very enthusiastic about the project and all of the work we had done together. Our project focused on conflict resolution, and I am very glad we ended up going that route as it directly applied to the students’ lives. And that’s probably why the project was so well-received. In their responses, many of the students said they enjoyed the project because it would help them in their own lives. They felt like the many activities and lessons we did related to real life problems. Most of the students said they now feel confident that they can solve conflicts between their peers. Specifically, students expressed that they now know how to reach out to others, how to stay calm/diffuse potential conflicts, and how to spread conflicts. Many of the students also enjoyed the project because they thought it was fun, and others enjoyed that it gave them the opportunity to share their ideas. The only really negative feedback I received is that some students admitted that they cannot help solve a conflict if those involved will not accept their help, which I thought was a very astute and mature observation.

      The next phase of our project will be officially becoming “peer mediators.” In order to do this, we need to brainstorm ways we can reach the rest of the sixth grade. I asked the students for some ideas, they said the best way is to first lead by example. They also suggested opening up the group to anyone struggling with conflict so our class can help resolve it. Other students thought making posters and hosting an event would be great ways to spread our message.

      I was very happy to read over the student responses. It was really heart-warming to see the positive impact this project had on the students. I saw so much growth in them over the course of the semester, and I have been so proud of how well they have done with all of this. I think this has really showed me the value of service learning. One of the most eye-opening responses was the student who said he liked the project because he was able to share his ideas. I think that is a big reason why service learning is so special: the students are the ones actively working and making a difference. They get a chance to really speak out & stand up for something they believe in. I think that service learning makes the students feel heard. They are able to work for a cause of their choosing and are able to see the fruits of their labor, all the while helping others in their community.

      As I said before, the only negative feedback I really received was that the students realized they may not be able to help everybody. Although the students saw this as a negative thing, I was actually very impressed with their observation. I think it is something important for them to realize. No, you won’t be able to help everyone, but you can reach out and you can lead by example. I think that it something to emphasize moving forward – even if someone refuses your help, you can still make a difference.

      These kids really surprised me, in the best possible way. When I first started this whole experience, I couldn’t believe how small these sixth-graders were. They could sometimes be rowdy and they didn’t always take things seriously, so I wasn’t sure how well they would do with the project. They certainly surpassed my expectations. Every time we did a conflict resolution activity, the students were excited and engaged. They treated the subject, and me, with respect. They had great ideas. And the more work we did, the more we grew. So the main thing I wish I could change is I wish I had high confidence in them since the beginning. I would have pushed them just a little bit further because they have so much to give. This experience really showed me that when you give students a task that really relates to them – they can do amazing things.

      At times, the social conditions of the school made things difficult. There is a bit of an aggressive culture among the students. Often, they feel the need to prove they are tough, and get into fights or arguments. This would sometimes even happen in class, which would negate the whole idea of the project. However, I do feel the project helped this in a sense. On one hand, it showed them it was okay and even cool to want to resolve conflict. I also felt like it gave the kids a lot of confidence because we trusted them to resolve conflicts among their peers. Of course, there will still be arguments from time to time in the class. But just the other day, an argument was taking place, and from across the room a student yelled, “You aren’t being very nice! You need to use conflict resolution!” That gave me hope that this project will really, truly make a difference for these kids.

    • The students I worked with surprised me with the amount of enthusiasm they projected toward the project of their choice. After doing a fair amount of research on the benefits of something like this, they were eager to get started right away. I couldn’t have asked for a better group of students to work with.

      My partner and I had the students answer some questions about what they thought service learning was after we gave them a formal definition. Some answers they came up with was, “I think service means that you’ll help someone doing work.” During the project they learned what it was like to work as a team to benefit their community, which they defined as, “a group of people who live and work together to help the community look good.” The next thing they said about a community is that, “If you are not an active participant, you are not really a community member.” They all agree they liked service learning work compared to regular schoolwork due to having no written work, being able to go outside, and they got to dig holes. In comparison to my view of the experience, we had a lot of similarities; we agreed on the difficulty of working with clay soil and digging up the grass in that it hurt their backs. If I were to change something of the service learning experience for my students, I would ensure there would be more opportunities for self-reflection as opposed to completing it near the end. Self-reflections would be assigned and completed after each meeting, which would have the students to reflect on what they did and if what they learned anything from what they did.

      In regards to my view of the population with whom I worked with, I had a favorable view of them even before beginning this project. I previously learned not to make general assumptions and to enter new environments with an open mind, so I believed the students I would work with were intelligent individuals with a bright future ahead of them. My prediction turned out to be correct.

    • As the semester is at its end and my class’ service learning project is complete, we all had the opportunity to think back and reflect. I presented my sixth grade students with a worksheet-type survey which asked questions about their experiences with the project (our mini-lesson, in particular). After reading through the students’ responses, I realized that this was yet again another time that I had been super hard on myself. Though the lesson incorporated school-like activities—such as PowerPoints, reading, and annotating—the majority of my students really enjoyed it. Domestic/teen dating violence was something that they had never talked about in school, so the subject alone was interesting for them. It was also noted that many of the students liked reading the young lady’s testimony about her experience in a violent relationship. It helped open their eyes to the fact that this doesn’t only happen to adults or celebrities, but could also happen to them and their peers. The topic made some of the students feel “weird” or “sad,” nevertheless they were still able to take away the importance and relevancy of the project to their daily lives. When asked what they learned overall, students said “…love should not hurt and [domestic violence] can happen to anybody” “If I get a girlfriend, don’t be mean to her” and “Domestic violence is not a joke and I know all the different ways to tell people.”

      My view of working with SPED students has tremendously evolved. Before this semester, I had only seen one side of special education through working with physically and mentally disabled students—the stereotype. I now know that there are levels of special education, and regardless of what level a student is at, they still have the capacity to succeed. It may take a lot more effort, patience, and time, but it is absolutely still possible. From this experience, I now know that teaching is all about adaptability. Lessons won’t always go the way you plan and we will run out of time (sometimes it’s just inevitable). For example, my incredibly awesome video wasn’t able to play, due to the school’s internet shielding. However, the students still were able to learn from and engage in the activity without it. I actually think I was more upset about it than the students were. Nevertheless, it was a learning experience on both parts. I will end by saying that through all of this semester’s obstacles, challenges, and triumphs, my heart remains where it was when I first started—with teaching. I am so grateful for the experiences I have gained over this semester and can’t wait to see how I can put them to good use in the future as a professional. Thank you times 1000!

    • The students I worked with came up with the idea of creating a student based community garden organization. When the they were asked to look back on this Service Learning Project, I was confident that they would be very honest. Throughout our time together, they were very open in what they believed worked and what did not. So when I handed out the prompt, I was prepared to hear many critiques. In fact, I would have welcomed any criticism- I am not ashamed to admit many times during this project I felt like a complete novice. Oddly enough, however, the only critique shared was their desire to have more time together. All the students left a comment about their voices being accounted for. One student said that this was the first time his/her opinions were listened to and taken into consideration at school. In addition to this, every student reflected on having experienced a sense of accomplishment during the project. A few even said they were surprised and proud of how much effort they put forth. I asked our club members if they had any other thoughts. Most students opted not to respond. One student, however, responded “My only thought are that there are no other thoughts, think about it.” Matt (my SL co-teacher in training) and I laughed upon reading it yet… This student’s response allowed us to step back and look at everything the students, as well as Matt and I, got out of it. There really were no other thoughts to be had. It was a great experience.
      Throughout this experience there were many mishaps and surprises. Constantly plans were canceled or changed. As soon as I reconstructed something, another obstacle appeared. I was surprised that the students commented that the project ran so seamlessly well, but I suppose most the mishaps were in the planning than the execution. It was all worth it though. Quite a few acquaintances tried to discourage me, when they heard that I would be working with RPS. All I can say is those that tried to warn me off of Richmond schools could not be more wrong. These students were incredible and I am lucky to have worked with them. I’m grateful for having the opportunity to hear all their thoughts and see them passionately serve their community.

  • amandahall posted a new activity comment 5 years, 3 months ago

    Michael Clark:
    My students wrote reflections on their experience with service learning and my role in their education. The positive responses told me that the service learning experience I provided them was perfect. Most of my students told me they had fun, they learned, and the process was better than regular school! “Never change! You’re gre…[Read more]

    • One of the most important things that I have learned from my Service Learning experience at Fairfield Middle School is having the ability to adapt and change as a teacher in the classroom. I’ve noticed from my time being in the classroom that each block, class, and day is different from the other even if the same lesson is being taught. Much of that is because the students are unpredictable, and as teachers we must be able to adapt and always change. This is important because each student is different and so are their needs in the classroom.

    • So far, my favorite part of working with my students at Fairfield Middle School is seeing their enthusiasm. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely hidden and sometimes very hard to pry out. Once they open up and are ready to hear what has to be said, it is like they don’t want to stop listening – well at least until the bell rings. For those minutes that I have them, their passion and enthusiasm towards our project, which is working to help the homeless, has really started to shine through. It is something I can even see just in their expressions as we read an article, or their tone when they ask a question. Some days the students don’t want to participate at all, but once they hear something that touches them, it is hard to get them to contain their enthusiasm, and that is what keeps me going and pushes me towards becoming a teacher.

    • My experience with the students at Lucille Brown has been wonderful. Being an observer has allowed me to watch the students experience “being a student”. I see how some are bored and some compete for attention. Others, quietly, just want to work. Other quiet ones sometimes have their hands raised, but aren’t noticed as much. (Of course, not being noticed is not always a bad thing to happen in a classroom.) It is great to see the students compete to answer questions. I have come to understand that you cannot assume ANYTHING. Which also reaffirms my conviction that there are not stereotypes, but only individuals. I love watching the students show their interests in history and their enthusiasm has helped me formulate my future methodologies.
      My mentor teacher also has a great rapport with her kids. I hope to achieve that level of comfort while keeping a proper teacher/student relationship. The energy of the middle school classroom is tremendous. I had no idea. It’s a good thing that I love to learn about new situations.

    • My moment happened when I was I working with four students separately in a group. Their task was to create an argument as to why students should be allowed to eat food in the classroom. After they were given their task, I could tell that they were having trouble coming up with ideas and reasons to formulate their argument. So I went and sat with them for a while and helped them brainstorms some ideas. This was the first time I had the chance to work with students and really have an impact on their ideas. Once the students had formulated their argument, they were to defend it in front of the classroom. My moment happened when my group presented their argument and used not only the ideas that I helped them come up with, but even took my ideas one step further and more in depth. This was a special moment for me because I was able to witness and feel the influence I had on my students and the learning that had taken place.

    • I am actually glad that I waited until the last minute for my post, because today I had one of those teacher moments. In class I was talking about how we needed to come up with a slogan for our project. Our project is on helping the homeless and I said that our slogan should be something catchy and not just “help the homeless.” Now, one of my students had this on her paper and went to the teacher because she was upset that I called her paper boring. Little did she know that in no way did I mean that what she was working on was boring. This girl is one of the most insightful kids I have ever met. I just wanted our actual slogan that the class came up with to be more than that. I then explained to her that I wanted her to have “help the homeless” on her page, and that needs to be a part of it. She finally smiled at me as she walked away because she realized that I never meant anything towards her.
      This was an amazing moment because I was able to see first hand how each thing I do will affect my students. My mentor teacher created an intervention moment to see why this student’s mood had randomly changed, and then I was able to talk to her and straighten things out. It was worried at first because I realized that I had single handedly upset one of my students. When I was able to turn it around I was relieved and happy that my first experience with this ended up being a positive one.

    • The students in my practicum class seemed to really like the Service Learning project. Their favorite part was that we were able to do hands on work and turn our research into something tangible. They looked up facts about homelessness and were able to put them onto posters for others to see. Another response I got, was that the kids were happy to learn about this, because it is something they would not have learned about in any ordinary classroom.
      Throughout this project, I know that the students’ views and understanding of homelessness changed and developed greatly. As this happened for the students, I did notice a slight change in my on views of them as well. I started to see their ability to relate and understand what these people go through, and it helped me realize that these kids are more capable than what I was giving them credit for. I believe that the best part of this project for me and my students was that everything was different than the ordinary classroom. The students were able discuss ideas openly, facilitate research and create visuals all for a cause. Most of the school work that they are used to is the boring listen, read, write, repeat cycle. This project forced them out of that. The only thing that could have happened better with this class is if we had more time. I know that the kids could have done so much more and it would have been wonderful to see how far we could have taken this project.

    • My student reflections on their service-learning project experience were overall very positive. They seemed to have really enjoyed and appreciated being given the opportunity to write about how they felt and thought about specific topics regarding their school code of conduct. Most students talked about how it gave them confidence and pride that they had the chance to make a difference on issues that could better their learning in school. This was different for them than “regular” school because they noticed that they were given control over what issue they wanted to address and write about, as well as how it related to them personally. They also learned how to write professional letters, and formulate well supported and research based arguments. However, some students felt that the project was somewhat boring in regards to the writing aspect of the project.
      Overall, the students responses were quite similar to how I thought the experience has gone. I noticed throughout the experience that the students were energetic and enthusiastic about voicing their opinions and being able to defend them. Yet, I do agree that the project in regards to the writing was a little boring for the students, although they really enjoyed the mini-lesson that Lydia and I did with them playing Kahoot. Therefore, I think something that could improve this is instead of having the students write letters to the school board, is perhaps have them actually attend a school board meeting to voice their opinions.
      My perception of the population with whom I have been working with has also changed in a positive way. Before my service-learning experience I was solely set on teaching high school, however after working in a middle school this has changed for me. I really enjoyed working with middle school students and found that I was able to connect with them much better than I thought. As a result, this has given me much more confidence in my teaching and ability to communicate with students on a professional and personal level.

    • Michael Clark:
      My students wrote reflections on their experience with service learning and my role in their education. The positive responses told me that the service learning experience I provided them was perfect. Most of my students told me they had fun, they learned, and the process was better than regular school! “Never change! You’re great!” They said. As a reminder that no one is perfect, two of my students felt great…until it came to recognition for their efforts. You see, I bought pizza to reward all the students who showed up to the event. I unfortunately neglected to give recognition to those students who put good work in up until the event but couldn’t show up last-minute. I regret that moment, but after having an enlightening conversation with my effected students, it taught me a lot about how to validate my kids hard work. A first of many learning moments, I am sure. Ignoring the whole pizza problem, my students actually enjoyed the entire process! One of my students is perusing further projects in the community garden! I don’t think that would have happened if we simply lectured about the subject. My view of the community of whom I worked for has only grown in admiration. Every kid that showed up to the event was willing to put in effort, willing to learn, and willing to have a good time! I originally saw the community as a run of the mill, suburban, and average neighborhood with a heavy population of African-American/Black students. None of my original observations of this community consisted of value judgements. However, now I have a ton of value judgements: The community is caring, helpful, and interested in growth, and I love that. The structure of the school has impacted us a lot during our work in this service learning project. Friendly and organized staff, a beautiful campus, and a ready-made garden smoothed the process of meeting the community need. I know for a fact that if this was a less structured school, the Earth Day in the Garden event would have been incredibly more difficult. With my service learning project finished, my student’s feedback received, and my thoughts to reflect on, I look back and see I have learned so much. Experience like this is invaluable.