How your kids inspire us at YEL.
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YEL admin staff hold weekly meetings to check in on progress and to discuss…and hopefully solve…any issues. But that’s not the story.
In January, more and more grade schools were allowing our teachers back into the classroom. During the meeting, the questions was posed, “What has inspired you about working with kids in the last month?” and we got some great answers.
MN Main Regional Director, Mike Lutz (firstname.lastname@example.org), was the first to chime in. He had a chess class in Minnetonka the previous day. he said that the kids were sooooo happy to be back in school and to be participating in after school programs. They were excited to see our teachers and be learning in-person again.
Teaching is often the best part of a YEL teacher’s day. And to be back in school doing what we are meant to do, teaching kids extra curricular lessons, feels great!
Maybe you remember the first time your child tied their shoes without you telling them to. Or the first time they made Mac n’ Cheese on their own without permission and without any direction from you. And you see that, Boom!, they get it. They can do it on their own. They can survive as an adult!
We describe similar things in our classes as Light Bulb Moments. When a student does what you taught them on their own, or when they come up with something even better from what you’ve taught them in a flash of brilliance.
There was a moment in a YEL Brick Builders class I still remember vividly. A first grader came up to me with a project she had modified. The project was a rotating clown face made with pulleys. A cute project that I had built dozen times and seen hundreds of kids build as well.
This first grader had done something so simple, yet so brilliant, we changed the way we taught that project from that moment on. All she did was twist the pulley belt and this caused the clown face to rotate in opposite directions. Not only did her light bulb spark, mine did too! “Why hadn’t I thought of that before?”, “Can we do it this way going forward?”. And trust me, I watched her closely for the rest of the classes to see if I could pick up any more tips. ˙ ͜ʟ˙
• Maybe it’s a young seamstress in the Project Runway class finishing the seam of her dress without help.
We could go on-and-on. It never ends and we always get joy out of seeing it. How couldn’t we?
Different from the Light Bulb moment where you see a flash of the student’s understanding in action, watching students improvement over a period of time brings a different type of gratification. In our online chess classes, for instance, we can see the students improvement sky-rocket over the course of two, three, or more sessions of chess. The students who have been doing online chess since last April have improved so much, it’s hard for me to keep up with some of them. Thankfully, we have National Master Nathan Hoover coaching them…he can keep up with them.
We have a chess student who didn’t start playing chess until the school closures last spring. He started taking our classes at that time and has taken dozens of lessons in our program. Mind you, he’s also a dedicated player who plays often outside of class. Well, his current ChessKid.com rating is 1286 and he is a tough player to come across in a tournament. Oh, and he has a great sense of humor too…and an Adam Thielen poster on his wall (gotta love that home-grown talent!).
We don’t get the same kind of rush as from that light bulb moment. It’s more of a “that was impressive” nod of the head.
It’s a joy to work with kids. It’s also a joy to be really good at it, and put food on your table by teaching. We’ve been blessed since 2004 to work with kids and provide really good classes for tens of thousands of students. Not only that, we have had the pleasure of working with so many teachers, administrators, and regional directors. It’s inspiring to see them progress through their lives while at YEL. Whether that is getting married, starting a family, going on the vacation they’ve always wanted…we are happy to be a part of enriching their lives.
Years ago, I learned as a small business owner in youth classes that my job wasn’t to be the best coach (although I love coaching)…my job as the owner was to find the best coaches and teachers and put them in front of students. We work very hard to find dynamic instructors, give them excellent curriculum, and train and supply them with all they need to be successful.
Then, like a proud papa, we get the honor of visiting those instructors during class where we see them sparkle and work the classroom like a champ. That always puts a bounce in our step.
As YEL has expanded over the years, that joy has spilled over into watching YEL Regional Directors and YEL Administrators do well.
Just last week, I swelled with pride when our Marketing Director, Tanya Golka (email@example.com) sent out a brilliant email to our community partners about parents’ desire to sign up for summer camps. I cheer each time our SE Minnesota Regional Director, Kamau Wilkins (firstname.lastname@example.org) says a community partner has signed up for classes and those classes are filling with students, a new community comes on board with our Madison Regional Director, Molly Filipek (email@example.com), or Mike knocks it out of the park with another winning plan for summer classes.
What fuels you? What motivates you to hit the pavement running each morning or burn the midnight oil…or both (not recommended)?
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