Teaching at Crawford: Preparations for India

Learning to teach

In an effort to get some experience it teaching young kids with limited English language skills,

The Denver Vada ke Yuva expedition Teens had the opportunity to work with an after school programs at Crawford and Paris Elementary schools in Aurora which serve the local refugee community. It was fun to see

how the youth and the young school kids responded to each other at first and as they spent

more time with each other. I asked the youth for their thoughts of the experience and below is

the response that I got from them. —Randy Hoff


Brooklyn Murri

“Going to Crawford elementary to practice one of my lessons was a pretty

incredible experience. I could not complain about anything in my life after I taught those kids.

They are all just so happy with what they have and so willing to learn more. That experience

made me realize that there are people even 30 minutes away who have WAY less than me. I

don’t have to go to India to help others. I can look around in my own community and help way

more than I can imagine by just listening to people talk.

I highly recommend this experience to everyone because it helped me grow and love people

more. Now I am so much more grateful for all that I have!”


Kinsey Preece

“I volunteered to tutor at Paris Elementary. My experience was different than

others because only one student in need of tutoring came to the after-school program, and the

rest spoke fluent English. I was glad to get the experience of teaching with less of a language

gap before India when I will need to be more comfortable with the lessons. My group was very

easy to manage and the girls were quiet as we practiced reading and writing skills. Overall

going to Paris Elementary got me excited to practice my lessons more and go again to be more

prepared to teach in India.”


Erin Joost

“I went to Paris elementary to teach. Even though we had some complications with

the amount of kids that showed up, we still were able to teach a mini lesson. It was really hard

to be able to teach a certain way for the kids with better English skills vs the kids that hardly

spoke English.”


Kennedy Findlay

“ I just went to Crawford elementary to teach. It was such a neat experience

to finally be able to teach a lesson to kids! I learned that when actually teaching my lesson,

there was a lot of repetition. The kids got distracted pretty easy so that is one thing I need to

keep in mind when coming up with activities to do within the lesson. One major observation I

took note of was to make the students involved. I tried not to make it so I was showing them the

answers. I asked them what the answers were and if they needed, I would help them. I let them

think of it before I stepped in.”

Eric Hoff

“Teaching at Crawford was a joyous experience. All the kids were so energetic,

maybe a little too energetic but they're kids so it's expected. It was helpful to see what did and

didn't work with my lessons as well as what activities retained their attention.”


Bella Lupo

“When things are far away, it’s easier to not worry about them. To think that I’ll cross

that bridge when I get there. The day before my teaching date worry started to seep in. I had

been preparing these past few months, but going into an actual classroom is vastly different

then alone, at home. I expected it to be awkward and almost uncomfortable, even though I

really like working with kids. The drive to Crawford was tortuous suspense, layering on the fact

that the day had already proved to be extremely difficult. All I could picture was me walking into

the classroom, becoming overwhelmed, and breaking down. Nerves swarmed through me as

my mom dropped me off - finally - and I went to search for the classroom. I wiped away lingering

tears, hoping it didn’t do any extreme damage to my makeup, then went inside the classroom. I

immediately felt better, as if I had just stepped into a different world. The stresses of the day I

just survived melted away. Inside the class, adorable little kids were running around in blissful,

complete chaos. And I felt at home. Controlled chaos is my specialty; it’s where I thrive. Not on

that, but I connected with those littles so fast. I talked to them all, smiling and teasing them. I

saw a girl looking at me shyly, a blush spreading across her cheeks. I decided to dote on her. I

sat across from her while we waited for class to start and I did what I do best: talk. She was shy

at first, but I got her to open to me. She showed me magic and I gave her math problems to do

in her head. A few other kids joined in later, determined to prove they were smart. Really that’s

what all these kids wanted, for someone to seem as the smart, hardworking kids they are. I

know that for next time, I want to make sure to give them the encouragement and appreciation

they deserve for being so set on working hard, for me, a complete stranger. The class finally

started when all the tutors got there. I was working alongside Collin and Haidee. The group split

into two and the three of us started to work with the kids, Collin teaching first. They were all

sitting down when some girls called me over. One of the girls had her heart set on me sitting

next to her, so I did. All of the young girls began to talk all about me. They loved my makeup

(the same I was worried about ruining) and told me how beautiful I was, already making me feel

better. I looked at one of the girls and softly told her how much I loved her shirt, which made her

so happy that she crawled into my arms and hugged me. I’ve never been more shocked and

humbled. I connected with those kiddos and got them to laugh with me (or mostly at me). It was

then my turn to teach. It was somehow easier, yet harder than I thought it would be. I thought it

connected with the kids would be difficult, but that came easily to me. What was difficult was

keeping their attention and pushing through things that didn’t seem to be working. I really

needed to scramble to pick up a teaching style. Although it was fun to get through the lesson, I

know what I’d change for next time. I want more energy and focus, keeping things under my

control (I let that slip at times), but still giving them some sense of freedom. In the end, I loved

my time with those kids. We had fun playing together and I learned a lot from just one trip. Near

the end I had a few of the students beg me to come back next week, every week. I’d give all my

time to them if I could, but sadly I cannot drive. I want to figure something out for them though.

My favorite part was walking out of the school with them. I had one of the little girls, around 12,

point at me and say that I’m her new best friend. I readily agreed and she then informed me that

I needed to ‘shrink’; in order to look her age. So I squat-walked out of the building, teasing her all

the way. I walked her all the way to her brother (who laughed when he saw me) and she ran into

my arms to say goodbye, telling me she loved me. My heart stopped. Something about her

sweet words touched me and I felt such love towards her. I made one mistake though. I didn’t

write down their names, so now I can barely remember them. I want their names reminding me

what I’m working so hard for and the lives that have changed mine. I cannot wait to go back

next week, pen ready to spell out each of their names.”