Follow-up cartooning classes

Following up on Jelena’s teaching report, below: my own recent teaching experiences have been fairly routine, though it was interesting a few weeks ago to visit the same school on two consecutive days. It was a big difference; on Thursday, I felt like a rock star, while on Friday, I felt like a wannabe stand up comedian on open mic night. I didn’t do anything particularly different between those two days (five classes in all), but for some reason I could grab the kids’ attention and whip up a lot of enthusiasm on day one, and not on day two. The most likely cause was that on Friday, the kids had had a sporting event in the morning, so they had this big old adrenaline/endorphin cocktail running through their veins and weren’t as sharp as they would otherwise have been.

I still manage to enjoy teaching even when the kids are being a bit difficult, though. Which is useful because last Thursday’s follow-up class at the same school was a difficult one. I had a classroom full, after school hours, of kids who normally sat in different home rooms, with no regular staff member or volunteer present. I wasted a lot of time getting one particularly noisy little girl to shut up and get back to work, and as a result forgot to ride the waves of the other kids’ attention spans. You know, normally while a class is working on a project, you can tell when the class starts buzzing a bit, and it’s time to get them off the task they’ve been carrying out and on to something new. This time, I got distracted, so so did several of the other kids. Of course, a class that large is going to be quite heterogeneous, and there were quite a few who just quietly got on with the work and had some rather neat comics ready at the end of the hour.

I don’t mind having to deal with loud kids, personally. It’s a skill I think I should learn to get better at. But on the other hand, it’s not fair to the other kids if one or two of them drain all my attention while I’m learning this skill. So for the second follow-up class, at another school, I’m going to ask if one of the volunteers can be present to keep an eye on things. If they don’t have any available, I’ll just try the best I can. Shouldn’t be as many kids in that one anyway.

It’s interesting that Jelena’s Thursday class was filled with Manga fans; mine wasn’t. One could offer the self-selected nature of Jelena’s group of students as an explanation, but my group at this point was self-selected as well, unlike the groups at the introductory workshops. Of the 18 or so kids, some liked manga, but most predominantly read the classic comics – the same ones I read as a child. European and American comics such as Donald Duck, Asterix, Suske & Wiske. Maybe the fact that I do give these introductory workshops to whole classrooms causes a wider group of kids to sign up for the after-school classes…