Take Ten Reflection by Justin Koselke

My experience with Take Ten has given me a window into a wide variety of students’ lives from around the area. In my role I go to the various sites and observe Take Ten’s Notre Dame Volunteers. This has shown me how talented our volunteers are but, also has shown how vastly different the sites can be and how adaptable everyone involved needs to be. The difference between a kindergarten class and a high school class are fairly obvious but, then you have to consider the difference between a class and a club or, a class and an after school program. I have really enjoyed seeing the variety of approaches taken by volunteers to create engaging experiences for their students. I have enjoyed the puppet skits, colorful handout and posters, discussions, and various games used to learn about and create positive relationships with the students.

In my own placements I have noticed a lot of different opinions and preconceptions students hold on the content. The key barrier I have seen so far is getting students passed what they think these words mean and moving them toward more constructive definitions that make them think about their actions in a more meaningful way. It is one of my goals to take students from a place where they cannot easily envision what others might be thinking to a place where they have empathy for others. I also really want to move my students from the idea where they are a problem which may never change to the point where they realize the problem is the behavior that can be changed with their effort.

I hope our volunteers have fun, the students have fun and, the schools feel the students are getting something from being in the program. Everyone’s true goal needs to be moving from an abstract discussion of the content to getting the students to actually begin using strategies to solve their conflicts and avoid violence.

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Take Ten Reflection by Torey Tokarski

                Throughout my four years teaching Take Ten, not only have I taught students about non-violent conflict resolution, but the students have taught me a couple of important lessons too. The first is that not everything will be perfect, but that’s okay. Sometimes you will not finish a class in time or the students will ask questions that are important, but go a little off-topic. If you have to deviate from your lesson plan or modify it, that is perfectly fine. As long as the students are engaged and learning the overall lessons that you are there to teach, then you are doing your job.
               The second lesson that the students have taught me is how to persevere. Some classes are engaged and respectful from the first day that you teach in the classroom, while others really know how to test your patience. But sometimes teaching the most challenging classes can be the most rewarding. Even when the students seem to ignore you or give you a hard time, they are still listening to what you are saying. I have taught in a couple classrooms that were quite difficult, but by the end of the semester, I could tell that the students had been learning and really listening to what I was saying.
               Overall, teaching Take Ten helps you make a difference in the community. However, Take Ten will also teach you important life lessons along the way!
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Take Ten Reflection by Sara Mykrantz

Nothing says “college” more than a thrift store. Before Christmas in my junior year, my friends and I were running through racks of clothing, laughing at absurd dresses and oversized overalls, looking for that perfectly hideous ugly Christmas sweater. As we were laughing at a particularly heinous sweatshirt decorated with hearts and teddy bears, I heard an enthusiastic “Sara!” from across the rows. Looking around, I see a little boy from a previous Take Ten class grinning and running excitedly towards me. Pulling his exasperated grandmother along by her hand, he ran up to me and gave me a giant hug, almost knocking me backwards into a sea of fur coats and embroidered aprons.

As I asked him how he was doing, I introduced myself to his grandmother and told her how I had been his Take Ten volunteer. She enthusiastically thanked me for my help and began sharing stories about her grandson’s transformation at home. He had stopped fighting with his younger siblings as much and would come home and discuss the lessons he had learned at Take Ten that week. He recruited his brothers and sisters to help him decorate his poster for the contest and he would remind them at the dinner table to use kind words with one another. She said that Take Ten had made their home a much calmer place, and that she was so grateful for the skills that we had taught her grandson.

When the boy and his grandmother walked away hand-in-hand, I couldn’t help but smile as I continued in my pursuit of a thrift store find. Though I love being in the classroom weekly, it was refreshing to hear that the lessons we teach at Take Ten can actually have an impact outside of the schools. While I didn’t find the perfect sweater, I found in the relief and gratitude of the grandmother’s voice a new sense of hope that Take Ten is both effective and worthwhile.

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“Your greatness is measured by your kindness; your education and intellect by your modesty; your ignorance is betrayed by your suspicions and prejudices, and your real caliber is measured by the consideration and tolerance you have for others.” -William J.H. Boetcker

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Take Ten Reflection by Elizabeth Kenney


The Leaning Tower of Pisa

As I said “Arrivederci” to my Take Ten class of third graders last December

before embarking on my semester abroad in Rome, Italy, with wide-eyed wonder

they questioned me about Italy. One student sitting in the back of the classroom shot

out of his seat and emphasized each word with passionate hand gestures as he told

me, “You have to go to Pisa!” He excitedly chattered on about the Leaning Tower of

Pisa as the rest of the class pointed out facts they had heard about Italy. While the

students chitchatted about the sites and bits of history they knew, one student in the

front of the classroom sat quietly, with a bewildered expression. He looked up at me

with a skeptical expression and asked, “They have a Leaning Tower of Pizza?”

I will always remember this moment from my Take Ten experience for a

couple reasons. This moment captured the adorably inquisitive nature of children.

These students want to learn and do not hesitate to speak their minds. After each

session, I always leave the classroom with a smile on my face, feeling refreshed and

touched by my interaction with them.

At the same time, this moment demonstrated the root of miscommunication.

While the student in the back of the room said “Pisa”, the student in the front of the

room heard “pizza”. In situations like this, the misunderstanding is merely comical.

However, as Take Ten teaches, in more serious situations, miscommunication

can lead to conflict. Therefore, the program stresses the importance of clarity

and understanding. Being aware of what and how one says something and

thinking about how another might perceive this illustrates the keys to effective

communication. This communication needs both awareness of oneself and

knowledge of another’s perspective. In order to reach this understanding and

communicate clearly with one another, we can all take a lesson from the student in

the front of the room. Rather than simply accepting this statement, even though it

did not seem correct to him, this student spoke up and asked for clarification. He

used his communication skills to come to a better understanding of the truth. Now,

he knows that the Italians eat their pizza, rather than utilize it as a building material.

Visiting with these young students each week as a Take Ten volunteer

has become an invaluable part of my own experience as a student at Saint Mary’s

College. Not only does my involvement serve to educate and empower these

students, in return, they inspire and motivate me to reach higher and achieve

greater. Learning about the issues, big or small, that these students face in their

daily lives and witnessing each of their unique (and amusing) personalities

encourages me to grow and become the best version of myself. It demonstrates the

importance and blessing of community. It reveals that we each have a responsibility

to care for and uphold the community that we live in.

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Take Ten Reflection by Amy Porter

My experience with the Take Ten program during my four years at Notre Dame has taught me so many things, but there are two that stand out to me at present. The first is that you always need to be prepared for the unexpected, whether it be good or bad. There were times during my lessons when things didn’t go as plan, but I’ve learned how to take on those detours and move forward, usually in a better way than was expected. I’ve been able to carry this lesson into my own live, by handling the unpredictabilities of life much more smoothly and confidently than I had before.

The second lesson I know I’ll take with me is to remember that humans are innately curious. This was one of the most profound things the Take Ten program gave me. While it seems like such a simple concept, I think our busy lives cloud our minds, and sometimes cause us to overlook something as simple as curiosity. While I always knew we had the ability to be curious, and have seen it first-hand so many times, the students I taught in Take Ten reminded me that we, as humans, have this unstoppable curiosity. The students constantly ask questions and want to know more. Why, how, where, when? And this is not to be taken as annoying or excessive. The fact that these students are continuously asking questions should be a positive sign. They are curious; they want to learn. So it is our duty, as their team leaders, as their teachers, and as their mentors to teach them; to harness this curiosity and make great things happen. In the case of Take Ten, we take this curiosity and use it to teach non-violence conflict resolution skills. But during this process, we also get to teach them about things we’ve learned, whether they be “big life lessons” or random factoids. We can never stop learning, and because of Take Ten, I will never forget this.

-Amy Porter

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Robinson Community Learning Center Parking Lot

Meet the volunteers, play fun games, and enjoy free food!!!

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The Bald and Beautiful

The Take Ten Team participated in an awesome event April 20 in support of cancer research.  We had a specific target in mind, and that’s pediatric oncology.  At Notre Dame, “Bald is Beautiful” Days, allowed us to either shave our heads, cut our hair and donate it, or have orange hair extensions put in. By participating and paying our fee to do so, this event benefitted Memorial Hospital’s Pediatric Oncology unit.  So orange hair and shaved heads will help local kids with cancer!

Beyond our participation fees, though, we wanted to help Phoenix Bridegroom, who just turned 6 in February. Phoenix has leukemia.  She has spent many weeks since last October at Riley Children’s Hospital, other days at Memorial, and continues to struggle.  She has had numerous chemo treatments, fever spikes, acute pancreatitis, and the many side effects that chemo treatments bring.  She continues to endure, showing her family her strength and sassy attitude as much as she can.

This turn of events has been emotionally and financially devastating to the entire family.  We can’t cure the cancer from which Phoenix suffers, but we can show her and her family our love and support and do our part to alleviate her family’s financial burden!  As a team, we were able to raise over $1,500 for the Bridegroom family. If you would like to donate, please contact Ellen Kyes at kyes.1@nd.edu

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Learning is fun!

By Victoria Tokarski, Take Ten Volunteer and Blogger of the Week

Have fun with the students! They really like learning from you, even if they don’t show it. If you are having fun with them while you are teaching them, they are more likely to be open to hearing what you have to say. Make sure they are paying attention to you, but try not to be serious all the time. You and the students will have better experiences if you just relax and enjoy teaching them.

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Why is it important to plan?

By Melissa Buddie, Take Ten Volunteer

Over the past few months, my team and I have learned to adapt our lesson plan to unforeseen challenges or circumstances. This has not always been easy for our team. Sometimes, we are forced to condense an important piece of information. Other times, we are left scrambling for activities when the lesson took less time than we expected.

My advice for future volunteers is to always expect that things won’t go exactly as planned. It’s important to make a plan, but don’t be discouraged or clueless if you have to deviate from the lesson that you designed. Have extra games prepared in case the lesson is shorter than expected and don’t be afraid to drag a lesson out over two weeks if the kids seem confused by the material after week one. The more adaptable you are, the more success you will have teaching Take Ten!

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