It was my first day facilitating a program – lesson one of Redefining Beauty for 9-11 year-olds. I don’t know how apparent it was, but I was a little nervous. What I was nervous about I couldn’t quite pinpoint. After all, teaching in front of a group of children is no new feat for me. I’ve earned my Master’s in Education and have logged plenty of hours in the front of the classroom. Also, I was familiar with the structure of the program and had even spent a little time observing our programs in action. Perhaps it was just the general jitters we all get when trying something for the first time.
Regardless, as the girls trickled into the classroom with their lunches, I greeted them and asked them to create their name tents. They were very cooperative and energetic. This energy continued throughout the lesson and I came across few challenges facilitating except for the fact that I felt like I could spend two hours listening to the girls talk about this topic rather than the one hour I was given. However, a twinge of nervousness persisted.
It wasn’t until the girls began sharing their journal entries that I realized why I was nervous. Redefining Beauty is a program topic that I truly believe is important for young girls to learn. Every day they are bombarded with messages about beauty from the media, family, boys, friends, and society in general. It can be confusing to sort through all those messages and to decide which to keep and which to reject. All too often, these messages lead girls to believe that there is one definition of beauty. They don’t feel satisfied unless they fit into that mold. I know. I have been there too. Consequentially, I wanted so badly to make sure that the girls REALLY understood the lesson that I was trying to convey – that they can choose their own definition of beauty – I was nervous that they wouldn’t get it.
As it turned out, my anxiety was unnecessary. The program is so well researched and planned out that I should have known I had little to fear. As the girls shared what they wrote in their journals I heard responses like, “Unique things about me make me beautiful… like my name!” and “It is good to look nice on the outside, but being beautiful on the inside is good too!” At that point, a sigh of relief escaped my lips. They are getting it! By the time the six weeks of programming are up, I really think Girls Inc. and I will have left an impression on their lives.
My takeaways –
Do not underestimate the girls!
Do not underestimate the Girls Inc. curriculum!
Most importantly, do not underestimate myself!
I am super pumped to go back and talk to the girls some more next week!
Volunteers: Were you ever nervous about facilitating a program?