I figure that if I learn only one thing every day, I'll have learned a lot each year. Well, if I learned only one thing on Wednesday, November 14th it was this: teachers work hard.
During a given day at Bright Eyes, I stay pretty busy. Between seeing patients, making phone calls, and writing reports, there is not a lot of downtime during the day. But last Wednesday, I was more exhausted by 11:00 A.M., then I often am after a full day. Why? Because I spent the morning volunteer teaching at Westchase Elementary during the annual Great American Teach In.
If you have not heard about the Great American Teach In, it is an annual event where people from the community donate their time to teach students in the local schools. You can read local stories about it here and here. Many of the volunteers have children in the school, so for them it is a chance for to visit the classrooms that their kids spend so much time in, while talking about their careers or hobbies. And people come to talk about all kinds of things. While I was there, I spoke to an Electric Engineer, a Dentist, a Martial Arts Instructor, and a Financial Advisor.
After college, I taught field trips at Silver Springs Nature Park, so I have spoken to groups of kids before. Then it was easy to keep the attention of children, because I had alligators, huge lizards, birds, and snakes to show them. Talking about eyes can be a little less interesting (and a lot less hands-on.) When I speak to children, my goal is be as interactive as possible while getting a few points across. My main points on Wednesday were that our eyes do many important things such as see, blink and move, and that there are many ways an eye doctor checks the things that eyes do.
I was scheduled to guest-teach four 4th and 5th grade classrooms in a 2 hour period. I did see some many of mypatients who are students, parents, and employees of Westchase Elementary, but mostly it was about 100 young strangers that I spent my morning with. To help keep these children interested, I asked many questions, called for volunteers, and brought demonstrations to pass around. I kept the energy high and it seemed to be effective, and after 2 straight hours, I was exhausted but felt satisified.
I must say, the Great American Teach In was a great experience. If you've always wanted to be a teacher or have a career or hobby that you want to share, you should consider volunteering next year. Not only is this a chance to teach children about something that you love, but it is unbelievably rewarding as well.
Nathan Bonilla-Warford, OD
Bright Eyes Family Vision Care
Located in the Westchase area of Tampa.