It’s so crazy to think I’m at the halfway point at Moxie.
I got this internship through the math department at Tulane and had no idea how much work it would be. Jumping from a math tutor to a daily teacher has been immense. Planning lessons is difficult, but I’ve certainly learned the merits of planning far in advance!
Math can be tough, because it’s hard to convince kids to want to do math. We don’t want Moxie to feel too much like school, but it is important that the girls show academic growth over the course of the program. There are days that I have to lecture and give assignments, but I try to spend more time on projects. I’ve found that mixing math with art projects works really well. For example, we are currently “building a dream house.” The girls are working in groups to design and furnish a house. They were given a budget and parameters for what the house should/should not include. They created a floor plan, budget sheet, and collage of the furnishings. I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on this project – this was the first time the girls have expressed real enjoyment for a math project.
Science lab has posed some different challenges. Unlike math, the girls seem really interested and excited about science. Before starting Moxie, I imagined doing constant science projects and experiments. Financially, that hasn’t really been possible. I’ve been able to do about two projects/experiments a week, while the other days are devoted to lessons. The girls have expressed some dissatisfaction about this, but as a start-up nonprofit we just don’t have the funds.
I won’t lie, I have my favorites amongst the girls, but I have found that each one of them is so special and unique. I am so pleased with the way my relationships with the girls have grown. Some of them were very affectionate from the start; others took awhile to open up. They are all minority girls from low-income families. Many of them have experienced the premature death of a loved one, violence at home and sexual abuse. To see girls who have been through so much get so excited over baking soda volcanoes is easily enough to make my week.
I have faced some challenges since starting at Moxie. One big problem we have is attendance; most girls do not attend consistently, which makes it really hard to teach (especially for project-based learning). Another difficulty has been working on such a tight budget – we are unable to buy a lot of classroom supplies.
“Glows”: I feel that I have learned how to effectively communicate with each girl. I understand that some girls need to be communicated with in specific ways and I have catered to the academic and personal needs of each girl. I am also proud of myself for the way I’ve adapted to certain aspects of Moxie. Typically, in the workplace, I am not a flexible person. I have learned that being so rigid just doesn’t work here. There have been times that I’ve had to change lesson plans last minute – I’ve learned the importance of having a back-up plan!
“Grows”: It can be difficult not to get frustrated. There have been moments where I’ve found myself completely losing my patience/cool. There have been incidents where I snapped at my helper or one of the girls. Whether my point was justified or not, I think I can try to improve the way I deal with frustration. Additionally, I still haven’t quite mastered the integration of relevant content and the method of project-based learning. I’ve found the material in the diagnostics to be difficult to translate into games and projects – specifically in math.