Event Analysis 10/24/07
Last week when I attended my service learning at Guilford Elementary School I was very moved when I saw myself bringing a Jesuit ideal to life. I remembered sitting with a boy named Robert who refused to do his work because he was “going to fail anyway.” It was then that I brought everything I had in order to teach him. I witnessed firsthand what it meant for me to bring my whole self to whatever I was doing. This week however, I witnessed what happens when you only “show up.”
When I walked into my fifth grade classroom I went straight up to Mrs. Smith to find out what the plans were for the day. She explained to me that the students would be collecting and organizing papers. Although this sounded easy, she informed me that many of them would need my help. She was absolutely correct. When the class got quiet, Mrs. Smith chose a couple of students to help her pass out portfolios and graded papers. I spent much of my time helping the students at my table and they were very eager to help on another. It was at this moment that I started to see what happens when you don’t bring forth your entire self each and every day.
Many students had questions for Mrs. Smith as they put together their portfolios. I told them that before they asked her, they could come to me. They did so but there will still questions that even I did not know the answer to. When they went up to Mrs. Smith to ask their questions, it was as if they were talking to a wall. She did not care that she was being spoken to and she did not do much to help anyone out. Instead, she sat at her desk and did what she needed to get done for the day. I took it upon myself to organize the student’s portfolios and before class was dismissed I told Mrs. Smith what I had done. Again, it seemed like she didn’t care. She had an attitude as though she had to be in school. She did nothing to help her students out and had no intention of changing the way she was.
After seeing this behavior, I realized how important it is to love what you do. It was very clear that Mrs. Smith was in the wrong place. Like the Jesuits, I discovered how essential it is to do both service and to bring your whole person while doing so. For these fifth graders at Guilford, this service learning program is sometimes some of the best education they receive. It allows them to work with other students as well as Loyola teachers and really get work done. Times when we are not there, many students get very little done. Especially in a classroom like Mrs. Smith’s, students do not get any instruction and therefore never have the drive to succeed. I feel very privileged that I can be one of those people that help to make a difference and I hope to continue throughout my years at Loyola.