Written by Katie Harris, AmeriCorps Member serving at Merrydale Elementary School
I believe one of coolest things about being an AmeriCorps member with City Year is planning out interventions for my students. Every week, I get to take Math and English Language Arts (ELA) concepts and think of creative ways to explain them. This practice is truly a labor of love. No, really, it takes a lot of heart to be able to study lessons and concepts, spend hours brainstorming and then implement creativity.
This past Wednesday, it came time to plan out my next lesson for my ELA intervention time. I quickly became discouraged thinking about how boring learning vocabulary is to my students. I started racking my brain, straining to think of new ways to make it exciting and fun. After a while, I felt hopeless and decided to crack open my ELA curriculum guide book for inspiration. I told myself I wouldn’t quit until I figured out a way to make this fun. Then, I saw that the next lesson was on Monarch Butterflies. When I was a kid, I loved learning about butterflies, because the place where I grew up had a ton of them always flying around. To me, they were so beautiful and majestic and held amazing memories. I thought to myself, “I must find a way to convey this kind of nostalgia to my students; then, they might enjoy learning.”
I decided to spend the next four hours drawing, cutting out and coloring different types of butterflies for my students. My coloring skills probably will never compare to the true beauty of a butterfly, but my kids didn’t care. They went nuts for my renditions. They couldn’t stop holding them, touching them, and asking questions. When I asked them if they’ve ever seen a butterfly in person, the majority said no. This further prolonged my excitement, as I got to share my memories with them and explain just how magical butterflies are to me. Also, this gave me an opportunity to encourage them to go exploring outside of Baton Rouge and find their own version of new, exciting beauty. I am extremely proud of this moment and of City Year for allowing me to do stuff like this.
Overall, I am most proud that creativity allows my students (and students like mine) to discover excitement and adventure when learning. It has taught me that in the great scheme of things, four hours of labor is nothing compared to the lessons they will learn that could change where they think they can go and what they believe they can achieve.