by Koichi Matsuyama
We are Poetic Youth volunteers from San Diego State University and our objective is for the 3rd-4th grade students of Monarch School to have fun with poetry and satisfy them with our poetic exercises. Our community outreach program assists students to better understand concepts in poetry and how it is heavily subjective. My team and I are responsible for making sure that students are learning and getting a valuable lesson with laughter and joy. I am currently a junior at SDSU and I feel lucky to be involved with the Poetic Youth program. Personally, I have taught friends and family in private for a brief time. Since being in the Poetic Youth program, I have gained a great amount of teaching experience and confidence.
I have conducted a simile and metaphor writing exercise at Monarch school for the 3rd-4th grade class. After the physical warm-up exercise we did initially, many of the students had already grasped how they are being applied in writing. For instance, one student wrote, “A rock with wings is like a statue on the ground. A statue is like a frozen man.” Another student wrote “Trees is like a Love apple.”
One facilitation strategy that I have used during the session was to work with disengaged students and making sure that he or she is on the same page as everyone else. I have realized that as a facilitator, you have to believe in your students and do not give up on them simply because they are disengaged from their learning environment. This attitude was effective for me because I was able to give my attention to my students and I believe that they feel appreciative that someone is taking the time to work closely. They feel the need for attention and since there are about four facilitators for the most sessions, it was much easier to work with the disengaged students. Quite frankly, most teachers do not have the time to give all attention to one student when there are dozens of them altogether. My personal strength is having patience with students who are not following the group agreement. I believe having the patience is essential to work with students because they have to understand that their teachers actually care and want to spend time for them. Showing your patience will lead to trust from the students as well.
I believe I have a lot of room for improvement. For example, I am not the best public speaker as I tend to think of too many things at once and I can’t express them all at once. Speaking is something I can definitely improve on through this program. Secondly, sometimes students do not understand clearly about what I am asking them to do. I can also improve on how to give a clear direction and to project my voice across the class. By the end of the course, I truly hope to feel positive about myself as a facilitator and I hope I have successfully completed my session and have given back to Monarch school. I also hope that the students gain interest in poetry and not just in the writing form that many people are used to thinking.