I have always thought myself as a pretty patient person, but working with groups of eight five-year-old students has really challenged this belief. I think by working with so many more students, rather than one-on-one or even two-on-one lessons, I have improved my general patience with the students, and also my flexibility with teaching the lesson plans, and also adapting quickly to situations (such as when we had to come up with our own lesson when the lesson plan given to us did not work).
I learned how to be patient while interacting with kids. Also, I learned how to communicate with my fellow mentors, whom I had never met before. We were able to quickly come up with alternate activities when we didn't have the supplies to execute the planned ones. I think seeing the kids in the charter school allowed me to witness how some people are much less fortunate than I am. Despite being less fortunate than students in northern Virginia, the students in the charter school showed the same love of learning.
Throughout this experience, I have gained essential communication skills. The students were typically 7 and 8 year olds so there was obviously a barrier between us. I adapted to this environment and changed my language so that it was simple and efficient. Moreover, I learned how to "grab attention" so that students learn better. I think I grew mainly through communication with the students. And in terms of personalities, I became more selfless and started to think more for others.
Kids are easily distracted. They can rarely stay focused at the task at hand, but they will if you somehow keep it engaging. They like rewards and giving them a reason to do an activity makes everything ten times easier. For example, we would let them play with the paper airplanes when they finished the activity. I think that I've gotten better at holding their attention and mentoring. I've learned how to keep them interested and show them how to do the activity. While they were folding paper airplanes, I would show them how to do it, and then let them complete their own.