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  • Interviewee: Kayln, Olin College student
  • Organization: EXPLO
  • Role: teacher/camp councilor, summer program
  • Interviewer: Andy Pethan
  • Date: November 2010

Interview notes

Kaelyn spent a summer as a day advisor teaching robotics to 8-9th graders at the EXPLO summer program run in Wellesley, MA. EXPLO gives students a chance to explore areas they are not very experienced in, including programs for grades 4-5, 6-7, 8-9, and 10-12, in a variety of subjects. Learn more about the 8-9 program at http://www.explo.org/intermediate/overview.

Unlike some summer teaching positions where curriculum is handed to you, EXPLO teachers develop their plans. These are later refined with the help of the curriculum advisors (1 per 6 teachers). The curriculum began with curriculum maps and included lesson plans for each day. The lesson plans have an ice breaker, key questions, activities, and a closing.

The program began for Kaelyn in with a one week teacher orientation. The teachers:

  • met their team, including the deans and curriculum advisors
  • planned events
  • prepped their classrooms and setup materials
  • finalized curriculum

Once students arrived, the program was broken into two 3-week sessions. Kaelyn taught her robotics class twice each day to classes of 8-16 students, putting them in teams of 2-4. When she wasn't teaching her own class, she was serving as a TA in another class, supervising, or in a meeting. Each night, the teachers journaled about their students in order to keep track of the successes and struggles, also giving the teachers to compare notes and catch a struggling student. Teachers were completely off one day each week.

Professional development continued throughout the program through weekly lunches in small groups with the head of curriculum, a principal at a middle school. These were often discussions about how to handle actual events that took place and how they could have handled the situation better. A memorable PD event was with the slam poet Taylor Mali (check out his awesome "what teachers make" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RxsOVK4syxU).

Overall, the program was not pushy about getting the summer teachers to consider teaching as a profession, but being run by mostly educators, they were very supportive of anyone who showed an interest.

Top two memorable lessons for Kaelyn:

  • how to say no -- there were countless opportunities to take on new things, but with the busy and unending schedule, she had to strictly prioritize
  • how much kids are capable of doing, yet how long simple things can take -- and the fact that it is almost impossible to predict where these will occur