When the Teacher Takes a Page Out of the Camp Counselor’s Book

A wise mentor once told me, “Camp counselors need to learn from teachers, and teachers need to learn from camp counselors.” I got what he was saying, but I’m not sure I really got it. This week, I gave it a try.

I’ve been feeling bogged down by my job. With standardized testing coming up, everyone is definitely on edge, and I know the kids are feeling it, too. With test prep and goal-setting occurring in every class, I decided to take a break from the skill-and-drill today. I took a page out of camp counselor’s book. I needed to keep reviewing for the tests, though, so I decided to plan a review game; it was old school– no technology. I created a Memory game on Greek and Latin prefixes (i.e., kids needed to match “tri” and “three”), so kids could review without even knowing they were doing so!

There were a few things I saw and heard all day today:

Smiles! (My eighth grade students, who have one month left of school, were genuinely happy to be there! This was shocking!)

Laughs. (Students engaging with each other, not just working independently, is what I love to see in my classroom. The collaborative spirit can sometimes be so hard to infuse into our classrooms.)

Myself having to ask one student to quiet down after he emphatically shouted “NOOOOO!” when another student “stole” his pair. (Most important to note is that this one student in particular often has his head down, refuses to participate, and often distracts others from learning. Today, he was like a different child!)

An excited, “YES!” when I told one group they had enough time to play another round before the end of class.

Frowns at the end of the class period, because the game had to end, paired with the following plea: “Can we play this game every day from now until the end of the school year?”

It is so easy to get lost in the sea of test prep and standards and “rigor” that sometimes we forget that learning is meant to be high-energy… engaging… fun! Today was a reminder of why I got into this profession, to build a love of reading and a passion for learning. And it was a perfect reminder of why it is incredibly valuable that we take a lesson from camp counselors– that if it isn’t fun, it isn’t worth doing!

Keep doing what you’re doing educators, and take time to enjoy this inspiring profession!

— Written by Elise, KIT Blog Editor

Kids Included Together (KIT) is a non-profit located in San Diego, CA and Washington, DC. We help make the world a more inclusive place by providing live and online training to people who work with kids. We teach strategies, accommodations and best practices to include kids with and without disabilities in before & after school programs. Inclusive environments create stronger communities. Learn more about our work at www.KITonline.org.

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