[nobe-l] First day volunteering

Ashley Bramlett bookwormahb at earthlink.net
Sun Jun 18 18:56:10 UTC 2017


Thanks for articulating this better than I could. Feeling like you are 
losing control and having trouble tracking students
in a less structured environment is exactly the challenge. A classroom 
setting where it is yours to teach is more structured than a recreation 
setting where there are many tables or open space for kids to sit down and 
do various activities such as games, arts and crafts, or reading.

Kayla, everyone makes mistakes; its part of the experience. Particularly 
with being blind, you have a challenge to find what works for you.
I don't have many suggestions. True, much is visual and you cannot directly 
help with finger painting.
I have some vision so I probably would have been able to do something.

Anyways, I suggest you keep tabs on the kids by listening and engaging in 
periodic conversations if they don't talk among themselves.
Tell them to verbalize if they get up to leave. You can also
listen for clues to determine if they are leaving or putting things up. 
Ruffling of papers, closing the paint jars, and moving of chairs might be 
some clues you can hear. I think your major cue will be their direct 
conversations to you or among themselves.
You can probably touch the finger paint after it dries to see what they did 
or ask them to describe it. Another idea for arts and crafts is to be paired 
up with another volunteer who can describe the setting.
When you sit with a group of kids, get their names and make a note of it if 
you need to. Calling their names will help you find them and establish 
rapport. When volunteering as a summer camp program assistant, I noticed 
most volunteers just looked at kids to get attention. They did not know 
their names. It was like all kids were just numbers.
You can go a long way in establishing rapport with them by using names in 
place of eye contact. They will probably like you better then If you use a 
name anyways because then they feel like someone rather than just the kid in 
the red shirt that Susie is trying to talk to.
Sighted volunteers don't always see the kids as specific people but identify 
them by clothes or looks. You cannot do that, so you can do other things 
which are probably superior in the long run anyways. Get their names. Ask 
the kids to state their name before talking to you so you get a sense of 
their voices.
Good luck.

-----Original Message----- 
From: Valeria Paradiso via NOBE-L
Sent: Sunday, June 18, 2017 11:21 AM
To: National Organization of Blind Educators Mailing List
Cc: vparadiso92 at gmail.com
Subject: Re: [nobe-l] First day volunteering

Hi Kayla,

I would agree with Ashley. I wouldn't stress out too much about this, as 
activities will differ a lot depending on the situation. I really hated my 
student teaching experience, as well as working as a program assistant for a 
summer camp one summer during graduate school for the same reasons. When you 
can't establish your own routines, it becomes more challenging to track 
students as well as feel in control. Still, you can establish your own 
routines with in a less structured situation nonetheless. Understanding that 
the sorts of things will happen will help you feel a lot better. Focusing on 
the positive aspects, such as general interactions with the students as well 
as getting to know individual abilities will help you value the experience.

I must say though, I currently work as a teacher and there's nothing like 
it. It's a very rewarding field. But that sense of accomplishment came with 
a lot of time, work, and energy. And a lot of failures as well. I wouldn't 
pik a Mager based on what seems easier, as every field has its own unique 
set of challenges. I would suggest you focus on where your strengths and 
interests truly lye. Volunteering is a great way to determine whether or not 
you think you may want to work with children. Give the experience a chance.



> On Jun 18, 2017, at 4:20 AM, Kayla James via NOBE-L <nobe-l at nfbnet.org> 
> wrote:
> I don't know. I have been changing majors a lot and want to stick with 
> something. But that's another thing that happened. They were finger 
> painting and I couldn't help.
> I am sorry if I am whining or complaining. Please forgive me.
> Sent from my iPad
>> On Jun 17, 2017, at 11:15 PM, Ashley Bramlett via NOBE-L 
>> <nobe-l at nfbnet.org> wrote:
>> Hi Kayla,
>> Enjoy the volunteer experience and do your best. Interact kindly but 
>> professionally with them.
>> You can explain to the kids how you want to proceed with activities and 
>> what they should say. Since you cannot see them, you can request they 
>> verbalize to you if they are leaving and where they are going.
>> First grade is a fun age to be with. I prefer middle elementary school 
>> when kids have more vocabulary and can read better such as 2 to 4th 
>> grade.
>> I also think you should pursue a teaching degree. You can always change 
>> majors if you feel its not working out.
>> I'm on the list here as I'm interested in teaching or tutoring kids still 
>> even though I did not get an education degree but a communication degree. 
>> I tried education but it did not work for me for a variety of reasons 
>> such as the demanding outside work and lack of accessible texts as well 
>> as trying to observe as part of our class work which did not go too well. 
>> The kids did a lot of visual stuff like coloring pictures so I did not 
>> fully get a sense of what was happening even though I tried using other 
>> ways like asking some of them.
>> I figured I can still help kids even though it might be on a volunteer 
>> basis now unless I try to go to grad school for education.
>> Anyways, about volunteering, don't be so hard on yourself. Maybe the kids 
>> thought they were supposed to leave. Maybe they did not know what to do 
>> afterward and did not think to verbalize they were leaving. I think 
>> volunteering on a temporary basis can be challenging, but with time it 
>> can be overcome. Unlike teaching, as a volunteer someone else set up the 
>> room and schedule. As a volunteer, you cannot discipline kids although 
>> you can certainly set boundaries and rules of curtesy for interaction 
>> with you. I'm saying as a volunteer you have somewhat less control over 
>> the environment than a teacher has in the classroom. This does not mean 
>> you cannot do it, but it does mean you need to advocate more and perhaps 
>> do things a little differently than other volunteers.
>> I tried volunteering at a nonprofit summer day camp. It did not work out 
>> for reasons which I do not know but they asked me to come in only an hour 
>> after my second week there when I thought things were well. I then 
>> volunteered at another summer camp which went better; it probably went 
>> better because I had better support from staff.
>> At my first volunteer summer camp at Facets, a very similar thing 
>> happened to me.
>> I sat with the kids as they played their choice of board games. I was 
>> just there to see they played cooperatively and that they cleaned up 
>> afterward.
>> Well, the kids often finished a game and ran off to do something else. 
>> Sometimes they told me and other times they did not.
>> This was a free form time of recreation. Still it would have been nice if 
>> they told me what they were going to do and where they went.
>> Another time at Facets, I had a child read to me who was probably in 
>> third grade. The kids were told to read to a buddy, usually another 
>> volunteer. Well, my kid did the reading and fairly well for her age. I 
>> had a hard time hearing her due to the noise of the crowded room 
>> sometimes.
>> She finished the book and got up to leave just as in your situation. I 
>> did ask the leader where she went and found out.
>> Like your situation, none of the camp leaders were interested in teaching 
>> although they were also college kids.
>> I think things will go better with some advocacy. Even if they do not, 
>> again, don't be so hard on yourself. Sometimes the volunteer environment 
>> is not a good fit. If its not, you can always try another volunteer 
>> setting.
>> I'm wondering how people keep track of kidsin a child care setting.
>> The only suggestion I have is for you to ask kids to communicate with 
>> you.
>> It seems challenging. I have low vision, but kids seem to get lost in the 
>> crowd.
>> I did have a better experience at another camp sponsored by the nonprofit 
>> Wesley Housing development Corporation and am thinking of returning, so 
>> it all depends on the situation.
>> So Kayla, keep volunteering and don't compare it to teaching too much.
>> Ashley
>> -----Original Message----- From: Kayla James via NOBE-L
>> Sent: Wednesday, June 14, 2017 11:42 PM
>> To: nobe-l at nfbnet.org
>> Cc: Kayla James
>> Subject: [nobe-l] First day volunteering
>> I began volunteering today. I helped four first graders with reading and 
>> Math. It went okay, but suddenly all of my students got up and left. I 
>> felt embarrassed and had to ask the "teacher" to bring them back.
>> All of the teachers were college kids like me, but none were interested 
>> in being teachers.
>> I felt drained when I left there. Once again, I wondered if I was cut out 
>> to teach.
>> Will update again the next time I go.
>> Sent from my iPad
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