With all my finals done, the only thing left I have to do is finish up all my blog posts (ie this post), and my peer assessment. But more than that, I’m thinking about what will I do next semester? I’m pretty sure that I will continue doing FLCP next semester, either for independent study credit or monetary compensation (probably the former). One thing I really enjoy about FLCP is not only the relatively less stressful grading system (I mean, teaching what I know and actually making a difference, versus mindlessly memorizing formulas?), but the people here really are amazing. Hopefully my schedule next semester will permit me (almost an issue this semester since a lot of my classes were at the same time, not to mention the whole logistical issues, but I’m confident that next semester, I’ll learn even more from FLCP. Enjoy your summer, everyone!
Monday was our last class of the semester. We decided to play a comprehensive game that incorporated all the concepts we had taught in the past 5 sessions. The winning team was the one that saw the greatest appreciation in their net worth. At the end of the class, we asked all the teams what their take-aways were. 2 of the teams felt that in order to win the game one had to take risk. In particular, they were speaking of risk in allocating funds between stocks, bonds, and savings accounts. Another team felt that insurance was critical to success to help mitigate unforeseen expenses. All-in-all, I was pleased with what the teams took away from the game. They all seemed to have gained perspective over the course of the semester on risk-reward trade-offs, be they investing or expense related.
As this was the last class of the semester and I’ll be graduating, it was the last time I’ll probably ever see the students. Hopefully I was able to help teach them a lot. Of course, they also taught me a ton. I learned a lot about being patient. I learned how to teach people with different frames of reference than I have. I learned how to (and not to) get kids to listen while you’re talking. I also had a few realizations. I realized how much planning goes into every high-school lesson…and that the actual lecture is half the battle (if that). I realized that kids are more intrinsically motivated than I gave them credit for.
Overall, FLCP has been very fun, and having the opportunity to reflect demonstrated to me that it was also a great learning experience.
I can’t believe the semester is already over. It seems like just yesterday when we first met our students, and it felt like something was missing on Tuesday when didn’t have to rush to University City High school from Finance.
The results of our assessment showed that our students absorbed the material. Part of this was certainly our students, but I think the success at UCity this semester can be largely attributed to how well our teaching team worked together. It was a challenge catering to a variety of abilities at first, but I think we did an effective job learning from our mistakes and designing interactive lessons that our students will benefit from later on. Even if they only remember a few key takeaways, I think every student in our class will benefit from FLCP in one way or another.
I would highly recommend this class to any Wharton student that enjoys tutoring or mentoring, particularly those who have not been exposed to an urban school. The educational gap in this country is truly astounding and the only way to truly get a grasp of this is by working hands on in an inner city school. I learned so much from the students themselves, who were all incredibly mature for their age. Over the course of the semester I got to know 7 intelligent, hard-working students who hopefully are now better prepared to manage their personal finances, apply for jobs and student loans, negotiate more effectively, etc. I gave all of them my email address and sincerely hope that they send me their resumes for feedback when they are ready. Thank you FLCP coordinators for making my experience so positive!
Today, I ran into a student from University City High School that I taught last semester. I remembered him in particular because he talked a lot about how much he wanted to attend NYU and asked me for advice. After a quick chat, I met up with my parents downtown for dinner. I caught them up on school and, eventually, FLCP came up in discussion. Both events reminded me that I had one last blog to complete!
I explained to my parents how incredibly important it was for students to have a foundation in financial literacy. I was lucky enough to have mentors who gave me these essential life skills, but for many students in Philadelphia, this simply was not the case. My mother, who grew up in the Philippines, was a bit shocked to hear that basic personal finance topics such as credit, debit, and interest were bypassed in most elementary school curriculums in Philadelphia. I described my time with University City and Wilson students, from lesson planning to classroom dynamics to the characters of students that I met throughout the year. Interestingly, we ended our discussion on how she can teach my 7th grade brother everything I taught (he wasn’t too pleased).
To wrap it up, I’m incredibly grateful for my FLCP experience. It allowed me to feel a lot more connected to my city, meet some talented peers and students, and take on a challenging but rewarding task. ‘Til next year!
I’ve been studying French since I was in middle school. One would think that I would be fluent in the language by now, but I’m embarrassed to say that I am far from it. Perhaps it’s because I never had the chance to go abroad, or perhaps its because I never put the effort into it.
Why am I bringing my non-fluency, you ask? In all my years speaking French, I have never had to use my French outside of a France. Of course I had met French speakers before, but I had never actually been forced to speak the language in any setting…that is…until I went into my last class at Lea:
I was teaching the kids about entrepreneurship and the importance of being creative. Their first assignment during the lesson would be to split up into pairs and come up with an invention of some sort–they would then make a “prototype” of their invention with various craft supplies that FLCP had provided. At first, it seemed as if everyone was doing well with the assignment. About 15 minutes into it, however, I noticed that one pair was not doing anything at all.
I walked over and asked them if they were having trouble with the assignment. No response. I asked them what ideas they had come up with. No response. I asked them why they weren’t speaking to me. No response. Finally, one of the other students chimed in “they’re new from Africa! They only speak French.”
Automatically, I responded “Je parle francais–c’est pas grave.” And that’s when I drew a blank. I didn’t know how to say “entrepreneur” in French (although it does derive from French!). I didn’t know how to say make a “prototype” for an invention that you wish you had. Nonetheless, I tried my hardest to convey what the lesson was about. My broken French and anglicismes probably sounds horrendous, but the girls assured me that I got my point across. They decided to make a cotton-ball cup sleeve for their invention in the end, so I can only assume that I made SOME sense.
The moral of the story here is that you never know what to expect. You never know what parts of your education and experiences are going to be useful, or what parts you won’t need at all. I for one never thought I would have to use my French in the classroom. But now I’m hitting the books extra hard to make sure I’m prepared for the next class. You never know when you’ll have to know the French equivalent of “prototype” in class…
Today showed me how much our students have improved over the course of the semester. I tried to make my “Succeeding in College” lesson as interactive as possible, but there were five main points that I really wanted to drive home which required a considerable amount of lecturing. We have been avoiding extensive lecturing to maximize student interest, so was impressed that they remained engaged for the entire time. Every student participated which is a huge improvement from my first lesson on Methods of Payment. Students raised their hands multiple times while I was lecturing which showed me that they were paying attention and processing the material. One thing I wish I had incorporated was an activity at the end with hypothetical scenarios to have students apply the information… I guess I can use those as my Jeopardy questions.
Our small class size has allowed us to really get to know our students and their goals. I was disappointed in myself for not bringing in a list of the majors within Penn Nursing because I knew beforehand that one of our students was interested in going into the medical field. Because we know about our students’ goals it is easier to make the lesson seem relevant to their lives. Our students have gotten to know us as well and are more forthcoming with their questions and comments. I think our team has improved significantly over the course of the semester and that our lessons are having more of a lasting impact especially because our students have made so much progress.
Recently, one of the topics we covered in class was the difference between generic products and brand-name ones. Although it may seem rather intuitive that generic products are cheaper, when it actually came to the day of the lesson, I realized how difficult it is to explain this topic. Think about it: without going into the nitty-gritty of marketing, how are we supposed to explain why Giant brands are cheaper than Colgate, for example? However, I was pleasantly surprised to see our students grasp the concept relatively quickly. Although they may not fully understand why, the Wilson kids realize that generic products are cheaper than branded ones. And of course, they absolutely loved making trail-mix at the end to apply the lesson!
The success of this lesson, and many others like it, helped me tailor my teaching style to the elementary school level. Over the recent lessons, I have realized that having all the students understand everything, while optimal, is certainly not practical. Students are at different points in their education, and some of the kids do not have as strong a basis as others. As a result, when we hit topics like interest, the students knew what to do, but did not know why they were doing it. I would often get disappointed that we were not cementing this understanding, and that reflected in my work with the kids. My explanations could be a little convoluted and tended to go over their heads. After a couple of times, I started to realize that this was not a successful way of teaching; no matter how hard I tried, sometimes it was not feasible to focus on understanding. This came partly from the elementary level of education, but also the time limit placed on FLCP. We only get two hours with the kids for about 8 weeks. The chance of all the kids understanding each financial literacy concept thoroughly is very low. But, by giving students easy rules of thumb, or things to remember, the topics will remain in their mind until they can further develop them later on. Consequently, I’ve tried to focus my teaching on getting students to know the basics, and apply simple math to structured problems. Though they may not know everything they need to about finance, they still retain certain important things, like putting money in savings accounts. Further down the road, I hope that they will be able to extract these lessons from their memories and apply them to real-world situations.
Teaching this week was rough. I felt plenty prepared, but I planned a much shorter lesson than I had thought.
As President of Penn Democrats, taxes are a subject that I really enjoy talking about from the partisan political angle – especially with people who may empathize with my rants about inequality in America today. Unfortunately, the economic and financial angle is less inspiring, especially when you have to put on your non-partisan hat.
I tried to make the kids interested but it felt like I was reading aloud to them. I gave them a sheet and told them they didn’t have to take any notes but could take as many as they wanted – I think they thought this was a trick and instead felt obligated to take tons of notes, slowing down the class and almost halting participation in order to do so. As a result, the material was dry and the discussion was drier, and the lesson was just plain short. I tried some tricks on google to lengthen and strengthen the lesson and it worked, but it would have been better if I had planned it.
Notes for next time:
1. I should plan for more material than I need. Always better to have too many activities rather than too few. Coming up short is the worst.
2. I should find a way to invoke partisan arguments that will make me passionate without showing my real opinion on the matter. This will keep things argumentative and interesting.
3. I will never ask the kids to take notes again. They clearly are less engaged when we ask them to take notes.
My work at FLPC is about to come to an end this semester and if there is anything I am as a person, is very melancholic. The idea that I will probably be serving again next semester, softens this strong feeling that I am subject to, however, I won’t lie, it’s still pretty strong. When one is thinking about the end, without necessarily losing sight of the present, one sees activities and relationships in a completely different light.
On Thursday, I taught at Wilson Elementary, and in the back of my mind was always the thought that this was coming to an end. As usual, I ended up working with Ayanna, the girl that by far is my favorite student and has been my greatest teacher this semester. Ayanna is always the first down from her study session to meet with us at the classroom. She comes in with a huge smile, jumping with energy and speaking in a loud, enthusiastic voice. “God! You guys are my favorite people!” She screams, in pure exhilaration and with absolute conviction. Every day of every week. Her attitude is truly admirable and if anything, it is the one thing that I will take from this experience as a teacher at Wilson Elementary.
Ayanna walks in, hungry for what we are going to teacher her, enthusiastic about the challenge and willing to embrace us with her energy and kindness. She raises her hand up every time, even if she doesn’t know. She stumbles but she never stops smiling. She livens up my day. She makes it fun to teach and especially, fun to be taught(by her.) Honestly, every time she walks into our classroom, I open up. I decided that I will learn from what she has to offer. And in my mind, as I see her walk in, I think “Go ahead, make my day.”
Badum-chh. Hopefully my awful punning in the title hasn’t turned you off from reading the rest of this post! For the past few weeks, teaching at West Philly High has relocated to…(drumroll) Huntsman Hall! While the weather has picked up and walking to 50th or so Street doesn’t sound so bad anymore, our new location does make it much more convenient for both us and them. Us, for obvious reasons, but them because now we’re not competing with the chess club and other after-school programs. (I guess that last point is really for us, too, but it’s really just a better learning environment in general).
The tradeoff: instead of having semi-weekly one-hour lessons, we are now teaching weekly two-hours lessons, which only left us with about 4 lessons left in the semester. But, I think this gave us the kick start we needed to stray from the curriculum that was in place, and really focus on what the students want to learn, which I think will be beneficial in the long run. Omar’s lesson on entrepreneurship was a hit, since in the beginning, many of them had expressed interest in starting their own businesses. They were ready to pay attention to something that immediately concerned their interests, which resulted in overall improvement in attention span for the whole 2 hours.
Moving to Huntsman Hall has definitely enhanced the logistics of teaching at West Philly High, especially because a strict bus schedule also results in a strict schedule of when class starts. When we were at the school, students would sort of wander in and out, since they were in their own space and could essentially leave when they wanted to. Not to sound like we’ve suddenly trapped them within the walls of our favorite Death-Star-resembling building, but it really is much better to teach and learn in. Looking forward to my own lesson next Monday!
Until next week,