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Radiococo Broadcast 02_2023
both things can be true
Since last November, I have been mentoring a 12-year-old boy, A, once a week in coding. A loves the colour blue, cars, and sea creatures (clownfish in particular) and has autism. As part of his school's enrichment program, I have 12 sessions with him, and we have been working on an underwater multiplayer game on Scratch.
It took him a while to get comfortable with me and our sessions. He is usually enthusiastic and vocal, even though he mostly mirrors what I say, which made it difficult to ascertain whether or not he understood what I said or asked of him. Only around the 7th session did he ask questions without prompting, like asking me how am I feeling today after I asked him first. It was such a massive win for someone who had never initiated questions or conversations until then! It was also around that time when he very explicitly disagreed with me for the first time, when he disagreed with my choice of a hammerhead shark and went with a classic one instead. In the process of coding the underwater game, I have always presented A with options: should we have animals, humans or imaginary characters in our game? Is it going to be a puzzle, platformer or multiplayer game? Giving him options helps make it less overwhelming and the process of elimination also helps me get to know him, slowly but surely. I can only hope that at least one of the options presented is something he wanted, and he did not pick it just because it was one he disliked the least.
Today was the 11th session, and the team decided that we should have a 13th session so that A could present his game to his classmates. At the end of today, A reminded us that the next session is the 12th, the final one! We told him about the possibility of a 13th, and he very matter-of-factly told us that the last session was 12. I was disappointed that he did not seem excited by the idea of having more sessions, considering how positively he has been engaging with them and how much he has grown through the games we made! We encouraged him a little more, gently suggesting that we could have more fun (more more more!) with more time but he seemed ready to leave it at 12 sessions. My colleague told me that even good things needed moderation, and I realised that although A may not fully comprehend why we think having an extra session could be good, he knew that 12 sessions were enough for him, and how wonderful it is that he could communicate so! My reflex disappointment was mostly ego. He can fully enjoy the sessions with me and also reject further sessions with me for his own reasons. Both things can be true!
5 years working with kids and still reminding myself that what I want for them may not actually be what they want and/or is best for them (_:
I don't know whether we will have a 13th session, but for now, I will leave you with this lovely giant squid drawing he did today. (First time drawing in our sessions!)
Thank you, as always, for tuning in this month!
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