There is a wonderful organization called Adopt A Class in Cincinnati / Northern Kentucky. "Adopt A Class connects businesses and civic groups with students in our economically challenged schools. By pairing teams with individual classrooms, our adult mentors expose the students to a breadth of experiences and training to be job and career ready." Procter & Gamble is mentoring 11 classes this year. Prior to this year, I had never heard of this organization. However, once I heard its mission, I knew I wanted to participate. I co-lead a team of 24 P&G employees who are partnering with students at Olyer Elementary this school year.
We had our first class with 5th grade boys a couple of weeks ago. Yes...sixteen 5th grade boys! We had a blast! As it was our first class with them, we played P&G bingo (with candy corn) and introduced ourselves to the students. Have you ever tried to explain sales, marketing, finance and Human Resources to ten year olds? After our introductions, I asked the boys to introduce themselves to us. I mean, if we are going to be together all year, it's only fitting that we get to know you, as well. They were all excited until I instructed them to come to the front of the classroom. Oh my goodness! You should have heard the chaos that ensued! "No! I'm not going first! The teacher has to go first! I don't want to come to the front of the class!" Typical responses...
Well, what do you do when you have 16 ten year old boys who don't want to introduce themselves to the class? You set the tone. I asked all of the P&G team to go to the back of the class. I assured the students that this was a safe environment and that everyone would be smiling at them as they spoke. I instructed them to simply tell us their name and tell us something they enjoy doing. As I was speaking, I was scanning the room for the student who looked the least intimidated. I smiled at him. He said "I'll go first! We were off to the races, as they say. It only took one student to demonstrate to the class that everything I said was true. It was a safe environment, we smiled and applauded each student as they introduced themselves. I even took the opportunity to teach them a proper handshake during their introduction.
Why am I telling you about this experience?
1) I believe Adopt A Class is a good organization doing great work for our youth in the community.
2) Each of us should look for ways to positively impact our youth, especially in the areas of soft skills (verbal communication, proper handshakes, written communication, etc).
3) These sixteen students stood up and did what many adults struggle with today...public speaking. Learning these skills early will ensure that is one less fear they have as adults.