What’s Going Right When Everything is Going Wrong

As a member of the Academic Team here at St. Stephens, I’ve spent the past month painstakingly planning out every moment of our young people’s summer at B-SAFE. From fun at home days, to full-day field trips, to every second of an academic rotation, we have planned out the most idealistic, smooth running program that’s ever existed. Unfortunately, life happens. Academic rotations don’t stay on schedule because the post-lunch sugar rush is causing a surge of talking, our young people are exhausted in art class from a high energy health class, and sometimes just the heat in the middle of July is enough to derail a great day.

But here’s the thing about derailed lessons: they’re ultimately more engaging for our young people, and more educational for our teaching specialists. When lessons don’t adhere to the timeline, more often than not it’s because one of our young people has asked a question that leads us down a different path and allows our specialists to teach a deeper understanding of a subject that the class has expressed a genuine interest in.

My first experience teaching on the fly came with the presence of baby birds in the courtyard at St. Stephens. Instead of arts and crafts, the young people were more interested in figuring out why one of the babies was flying around while the other was sitting huddled in a corner. The day turned into a lesson on nature, animal care, health, and an eventual trip to the emergency vet. So while those paintings still sit unfinished, our young people now hold knowledge on subjects that would have been hard to teach in a classic classroom setting.

Regardless of how hard we try to preemptively perfect a classroom, sometimes the best thing to do is allow something to go wrong. 

By Jean Bellamy, PICS Academic Coordinator

Jean Bellamy is originally from Hillsborough, North Carolina, where she grew up surrounded by books and animals. She is a Psychology major at Princeton University interested in studying developmental and educational psychology with eventual hopes of becoming a teacher. In her free time, Jean loves to ride horses, read, and drink coffee at a furious pace!