By: Nicole Yongue, Senior Impact Director, City Year Boston
Nicole Yongue is a Senior Impact Director at City Year Boston and has more than 13 years of combined experience as a City Year AmeriCorps member and staff member. In her role, she has helped train and guide hundreds of AmeriCorps members through their service experience with City Year, and she shares some recommendations for incoming AmeriCorps members to consider as they prepare for their work in schools.
City Year AmeriCorps members come from diverse backgrounds, areas of interests and fields of study. Not all incoming AmeriCorps members have experience working in a classroom or education setting prior to the start of service–and that's okay. Even those with classroom exposure are about to embark on a whole new experience.
City Year partners with elementary, middle and high schools, and no two AmeriCorps member experiences are the same. However, the following tips may help better prepare you for the joys—and the challenges—of working full-time with students, teachers, and your school community.
- Be prepared for long days that begin before school starts and end past school dismissal. City Year AmeriCorps members get to school before the first bell of the school day rings, and often run after school clubs and programs for students after the school day ends. Resilience is key for getting through long days of service.
- The teachers we work with have different skill sets and teaching styles. Be prepared to build relationships with your teachers, and figure out what works best so that everyone is reaching their goals. Successful partnerships with your teachers is critical to seeing successful outcomes for your students.
- Similarly, every student is unique and has a different learning style. Start thinking about your personal learning style and how it affected your learning experience. Consider your favorite books to read between grades three through nine and why you enjoyed them so much. Would you have enjoyed them more if you had a teacher who tried to connect to your learning style? Think about how you would get students excited to read based on what made you excited to read your favorite books. The crux of our AmeriCorps members’ literacy and reading support is around reading comprehension, vocabulary and deriving meaning from text. The Teaching Channel’s “Thinking Notes” brief video provides examples of how to put reading and literacy support into practice.
- Think about the skills you learned in math from grades three through nine and what tactics helped you grasp concepts, especially those that were the most challenging. Consider how you would get students excited about breaking down math problems by incorporating your own experience. Read more about the process that AmeriCorps members use to gather data and information about their students’ math needs and use it to inform their tutoring.
- Be prepared to be there for your students. Student behavior varies and can be a result of something much deeper than what appears on the surface, such as a lack of confidence, insecurities, or something happening in their lives outside of school. As near-peer tutors, mentors and role models, City Year AmeriCorps members take a holistic approach to supporting student behavior through social-emotional skill development, providing opportunities for leadership development and providing data-informed behavior coaching. You can learn more about City Year’s holistic approach here.
- You are in schools to support students and help them realize their full potential. They all have the ability to succeed, and it is your job to see that in them and lead by example. This MindTools video offers a good exploration of learning styles by explaining how people naturally learn in different ways and the importance of taking a balanced approach that caters to strengths and develops skill in other styles.
These are just a few recommendations for getting yourself ready to go for a great year of service. There are many more resources that will be made available to you during training and throughout the school year.