This month’s reflection is largely themed on City Year’s PITW # 158:
“It’s a privilege for all of us to serve at City Year.”
Last week, my gratitude for the work we do and the opportunities that are available for us to take advantage of was renewed. I mean it’s pretty awesome to have such a unique role in a school and in education – someone who isn’t a teacher, but can still have the opportunities to teach planned lessons to students. Someone who doesn’t have to discipline students, but can still hold them to high expectations. We can also develop relationships in a way that other school “adults” cannot. The red jacket distinguishes us, physically, but it also means that our role is different. Sometimes the role isn’t all too clear, but I can say that I’m grateful to be able to work in a school every day and have students ask questions and express themselves to me in ways that they might not be able to do with other adults. The near-peer relationship truly makes a difference.
The opportunities are certainly what you make of it at City Year. Professionally, I have developed by just working on and with a diverse team. A team that is made up of different backgrounds, experiences, and varying styles of learning and communication. Being able go through the process of navigating and understanding the unique individuals I work with has been so rewarding and worthwhile. Individualizing and adapting has made me more aware of others and myself. I’ve gained and developed skills that I once thought I was proficient at, but realized I wasn’t until I found myself working with others who were completely different than myself. Intellectually, my mind has explored different ideas and perspectives. Ideas and perspectives of other people who come with rich knowledge on various passions. With this, most times I just choose to just stop, listen, and admire what others have to share. I may not completely understand, but when I hear others speak so passionately, it’s special. I’ve also become more reflective in my service about myself in different contexts. I’ve thought about who I am when I’m at work, when I’m at home. Who I am as a friend, a leader, a daughter, a sister. Who I am as an Asian female who is a first-generation college student and has moved so far away from her family. I’ve learned that things can be complicated, but I’m also learning what things I should simplify and what things I should really think more into.
As I’m approaching my 18 months of service with City Year, I can 100% say that it’s tested me in all kinds of ways. It’s challenged my emotions, my resilience, my confidence, and many other vital components of my being. I can also 100% say that I don’t regret my decision in choosing to commit a year of service and also a second year of service. This unique experience has offered me so much and luckily I’ve taken learning opportunities to grow and persevere. I don’t think I could have gained what I have from anything other than City Year, considering what point I’m at in life. It truly is a privilege to serve at City Year.
It’s Tuesday and at our school that means that it’s “No Tardy Tuesday!”
Attendance is a focus that is important to the school and also City Year because we know that when students are at school, that’s when they have the opportunity to learn. When they’re not at school, they’re missing out on learning.
Every Tuesday, at 7:55am, our Attendance Coordinator goes on the intercom and congratulates everyone that is in their classroom on time. He then plays a song that has been requested by a student and for about a minute, the song is played for students to freely dance and get their energy out, all in celebration of being on time to class.
This morning, the song was requested by a student who LOVES John Cena. I’m talking about LOVES him so much that his nickname is John Cena and he embodies John Cena’s personality with his super serious face and overall demeanor. With all that said, the song he requested was John Cena’s theme song (the infamous song he walks out to before he starts his wrestling match). When I heard the song he requested, I cracked up because I was imagining the student’s reaction to the song playing and how serious he would take it! Don’t know what the song sounds like? Click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LitDGyxFh4
This gave me lots of joy this morning and made me realize what great effort is going into our attendance work at our school. Even when students are late, we take the time to write each student a pass to class and ask them what color they’re feeling on the mood meter. After they’ve identified their emotion, they’re sent to class with their teacher now knowing how to adjust their communication and teaching based on how that particular student is feeling.
I’d say our goal is not to have every single student with perfect attendance, but for every single student to feel like their presence is valued and that their voices are being heard when they are at school.
All People – Especially Young People – Need the Same Ten Things.
I share this PITW as I approach fall break and it’s a great time to relax, but I feel like it’s also a good time to reflect on my life and think about these 10 things. How are they going for me right now? Is there something that’s been missing? Are there people who can help provide any of these things? Which of these is most important to me?
DON’T FORGET TO HAVE FUN
Last Friday, we ended the school week with a PTA event, Fall Fest!
It was an event that I honestly wasn’t 100% looking forward to. A dark Friday night, right after service for 2 and a half hours? All I was looking forward to was my bed. I also wasn’t sure what my role looked like for support in the event, so the mystery behind that contributed to my reluctance.
Although only 4-5 corps members were needed for the event, I annoyed a few other teammates to stay as well because misery loves company, right?
Long story, short – It was a splendid night! I ended up leading an activity called Pumpkin Hunting. Pretty much ya get a tiny, edible pumpkin, hide it under a ton of whipped topping, and have student find it using only their mouths.
I was forgetting how great it is to see students outside of school hours. I feel like everyone is so much more relaxed and open! Leading the activity gave me so much joy! There were students who came back multiple times to either smash their faces in the whipped topping or to eat more of the whipped topping. It was fun for the students, but I joined in twice and made it even more fun. Because who doesn’t like when an adult has their face covered in whipped topping?
This was a huge reminder for me to always have fun to build community and relationships.
A little bit of fun builds community and makes the group more productive over the long run. When your plans are almost done, go back over them and do a “fun” check – especially for retreats and long meetings. If there is no fun time there, go back and put some in.