February Reflection

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.

On Time and Here Every day!

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.

 

PITW #98

All People – Especially Young People – Need the Same Ten Things.

  1. Meaning
  2. Adventure
  3. Community
  4. Power
  5. Respect
  6. Structure
  7. Challenge
  8. Opportunity
  9. Joy
  10. Love

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?

 

PITW #49

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.

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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.

PITW #174

SEEK BALANCE IN LIFE.

Living a life of commitment and service can be very hard. Quite literally, we take on the problems of the world. In order to be effective and to set a good example to others, we should seek to maintain balance in our lives. This doesn’t mean we don’t or can’t often work long hours or weekends, especially during heavy seasons in the campaign of idealism. But it does mean that you should not neglect your friends, family, relationships, health, or other personal areas of life. We should all also take time to relax, rejuvenate, and recapture our perspective and energy.

“PITW”s are ideas that are supposed to help guide City Year’s service and are supposed to serve as a reference for ways to implement the mission in our daily work.

This PITW is totally relevant to me at this moment because I feel like I’ve been taking the right steps in caring for the different components of my life that contribute to my overall well-being. Am I 100% balanced though? Not quite. Not yet!

In my relationships with family and friends I’ve made a list of people I want and need to prioritize. With this list I’ve developed a scheduled plan to make sure I am maintaining and nurturing our relationship by keeping in communication and appreciating each of them in different ways. This looks like writing letters, sending texts, making phone calls, spending quality time, and asking what they’ve been learning recently in their own lives. This ensures that I am prioritizing people who have prioritized me and who have injected joy, positivity, energy, and inspiration in my life. This means focusing on those who add to my life and being okay with choosing not to focus on those who don’t add to my life.

I’ve also been on it with my health. I get a good amount of sleep, take my vitamins, eat well (for the MOST part), and feel good about my physical activity. I’ve even recently visited the doctor for the first time since I’ve moved to Seattle!

I journal every Monday, reflecting on what’s going on in my life and what thoughts are filling up my mind. This has been important to me because I want to be able to freely express how I am feeling and be able to express those feelings with words.

In terms of how I spend my time with myself, I’m still working on it. Lately I’ve been dreaming about work. I hate it. They aren’t dreams specific to the school, students, or team I work with, but just generally about working and being stressed in a school environment. I can definitely attribute these dreams to being so focused on work lately. It’s a good and bad thing. I think I’ve been performing well with my work, but I also think I’m not making enough time to do what I enjoy on my own time. My own time has usually become “work time.” I’ll send emails, work on schedules, and worry about upcoming deadlines for work – on the weekends! I’d like to spend more alone time  with reading, practicing calligraphy, creating goals for the future, learning about random things, and cooking new recipes!

I think this blog is super important to me because it’s giving me an opportunity to express how I’m feeling and what I’m thinking throughout my second service year. I learned a lot from last year and wish I would’ve continued my blogging. This year has already presented a small dose of the challenges I’ll experience this year, so I want to be able to synthesize what I’m experiencing and share it!