Junior Achievement was an experience that will never be forgotten. The children were so joyful and happy to see us every week. I enjoyed teaching and found it very eye opening. There were more pros than cons when it came to my experience with this program. The topics were easy to discuss with the students. I felt that five sessions was rather short, but the material covered in them was perfectly timed. Other students should be able to experience this program and get the same attention as other students.
The children were wonderful and full of curiosity. They enjoyed the lessons and asked tons of questions. I loved this experience. This lesson taught me what it is like to be a teacher and much patience teachers generally have. I had a first grade class and they had a ton of energy and absolutely loved to talk. I got to see a glimpse of what it was like to be in first grade and see the amazement all the kids had about high school kids talking to them.
Some of the positive sides of this experience include getting to hang out with kids, realizing how far I have come as a student, and seeing things from a different perspective. I enjoyed getting to hang out with the kids and telling them about the importance of family and how to interact with them. Seeing what the kids are going over currently helped me be reminded about the things I have overcome and learned over the years. One of the few things they were covering was addition of double digit numbers and the value of different coins. When we discussed families and how they are all different, some students asked if their parents were different because their mom was white and their dad was black or if their family was different because they didn’t have a dad. Some of the other students thought this was crazy and repeatedly told each other that everyone had a mom and dad. That was definitely one of the negative sides of the experience. I didn’t know how to answer some of the questions regarding race and how we are all different. I also felt like some of the kids were being bullied based on how they responded to various questions. One student made a comment that they never get to go to Whataburger because their mom told them that it is for rich people and they can’t afford Whataburger. Various other students laughed and scolded the student and didn’t understand how that child could have never had Whataburger. Also, some of the material enclosed if we had extra time was not age appropriate. On the flash cards for one of the lessons, “Need vs. Want” we held up the picture card of a home and almost all of the kids said that it was a need; however one kid said that it was a want. According to the student, you don’t have to live in a house for shelter you can live in an apartment and be just fine. We told the students that depending on how you look at a house, it could be a need or a want, but a home in general including apartments, hotels, and houses are needs. That was definitely a downfall. It was hard to explain to some kids about the specifics when it came to needs vs. wants. The topics presented were relatively simple to teach the children and I think they really caught on. The main theme was “Our Families”. The students really enjoyed seeing the people on the map and playing with a map in session four and five. The lessons were basically slowed down to a pace that they would be able to understand and the word choice (vocabulary) was put at their level. Discussing jobs and what our parents do for a living was very interesting and we added a section to the third lesson by asking the kids what they would like to do when they get older. After all the kids answered, Cameron and I answered the question and discussed in summary what you would need to attain any of those jobs.
One of the sessions suggested having a student stand up in front of everyone while you hold a card over the head of the student and let the other kids’ give that student hints about what the picture on the card was. We discussed the activity with the teacher and she let us know that such an activity could take up the entire class period and it was highly unlikely that they would get some of them right. After a brief discussion, Cameroon and I decided to act out the pictures on the cards for the kids to guess. This proved to work very well and the kids thought it was hilarious and loved the interaction. The more we asked questions, the more involved they seemed to be. The topics were excellent and age appropriate for the students, however I felt that more presentations would have been acceptable as well. I think the students really enjoyed the lessons and it was very hard to teach them for the last time and leave them. The little booklets of information that was to be used if there was extra time were not age appropriate for some of the sessions. Mrs. Beyer, the teacher, let us know ahead of time that her kids were not quite to adding a single digit and double digit numbers yet.
The program should be continued and encouraged more for students involved not only in dual credit classes but in high school classes as well. The kids really seemed to love the attention they got through the lessons and seeing us every Friday. I think every elementary classroom in the district should have a pair of high school students go over to teach them about whatever the subject is for their age. The kids seemed to learn a lot in that limited period of time, as did I. I enjoyed seeing their simple answers and thoughts compared to the answers I would have suggested.
The founder of Junior Achievement had his heart in the right place when he created this program. Elementary age children need someone to look up to and who better to look up to than high school students that have excelled inside and outside of the classroom. Some of the questions the children asked were thoughtful, but would rarely be covered in the regular classroom. Talking to the kids about families helped them to see the importance of one another and teach us to be more compassionate and accepting of each other’s differences. The timing of the lessons was perfect when it came to the second session titled, “Need vs. Want” since Christmas time is coming up and many of the children thought that they needed several toys.