- Hiring assistant teachers
I select assistants from among my students. It is a continuation of their work with me, kind of a next step. I look for people who like to work with others, who stand up for themselves, but are also willing to share. I look for those who volunteer to help and who can ask for help themselves. Sometimes I can identify a potential assistant from as early as six, and sometimes not until as late as 12. Children can mature into becoming a candidate.
Some children see their older classmates becoming assistants and ask me about the possibility for themselves. In a mixed-age class the younger students learn things from the older that I couldn’t teach them myself. I particularly like it when students come to me and ask about becoming an assistant. My school is about nurturing and helping my students to realize their ideas.
Once they begin the course, they discover our program from a whole new perspective.
- They develop leadership skills.
- After each class we discuss some of the psycho-dynamics that went on during the class. In this way I assuage judgements they may have made and give them a way to understand what might be influencing those classroom interactions that were difficult to deal with in the moment.
- They learn some of the aspects of managing the tools and materials by the way those things are arranged, organized and cleaned.
- They learn efficient techniques for closing the studio after a class and making it ready to be opened again for a following class.
- And because we have mixed-age classes, they experience the honor of being given more responsibility before their peers.
When a person is an assistant in training, he or she goes on the list of those who are already assistants. When I need help, I first call on the person who has been on that list the longest. If that person isn’t available, I go to the next.
Initially a new assistant won’t get many opportunities to assist, but I make it clear that we have a new relationship, instead of Teacher/Student, we are now more like Master/Apprentice.
I will be giving him or her help in changing his or her student status to the status of teacher. For instance, I will speak up for the new assistant if a student challenges his or her authority. I will be speaking to the new assistant privately when the way in which they have related to a student doesn’t reflect the ground rules.
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