Leading initiatives and planning events are two key components of the City Year AmeriCorps member role. But what does this work entail and how does this relate to their day-to-day service? To learn more, we connected with City Year Kansas City Impact Manger Jasmine Glasper (City Year Baton Rouge '13 and City Year Dallas '15) who currently manages a team of eight AmeriCorps members. Below she shares her insights on the importance and value of owning unique responsibilities as coordinators on a City Year team.
What are coordinator roles and what purpose do they serve as part of the AmeriCorps member role?
Coordinator roles are leadership opportunities for each individual AmeriCorps member to own and to become an expert in an area of service [such as math, attendance, etc.]. Coordinators are expected to powerfully lead their teammates in their assigned area all year. As the visionary, planner and executer, coordinators are expected to mobilize their teammates to turn their visions into realities.
We know that coordinator roles can vary team by team, but what roles exist on your team?
Like many teams City Year teams, coordinator roles are tailored to meet school specific needs. My team has a wide-range of coordinator roles and each serves a specific purpose for our students:
- Afterschool Coordinator: Partners with teachers to help run "Lifework Club"--a weekly homework help club sponsored by our school. This coordinator also helps run two enrichment clubs: Step Club and Drama club every Tuesday. The aim of each initiative is to engage students in learning and growing in new ways.
- Math Coordinator: Compiles resources for math tutoring strategies for teammates to utilize throughout the year and plans school events with math components such as family game nights.
- English Language Arts (ELA) Coordinator: Compiles resources for ELA tutoring strategies for teammates to utilize throughout the year and plans school events with ELA components such as family game nights.
- Outreach and resource coordinator: Manages our team's Instagram and Twitter accounts to promote our events and initiatives and share stories from our service. This coordinator collaborates across the team to ensure the team has everything they need for events and also is responsible for reaching out to local businesses for event and in-kind donations.
- Positive School Climate Coordinators: Helps run the Dean's Room, a space dedicated for students struggling with their behavior, by facilitating reflection cycles before students return to class. My team has two of these coordinators! Our school is deeply committed to promoting a positive school climate. Additionally, these coordinators plan City Year led community meetings every week, where they discuss topics like leadership, college, and invite external guest speakers.
- 50 Acts of Leadership Coordinator: Establishes student leadership opportunities that help students grow into civic-minded individuals. This coordinator recently managed a student-led canned food drive at our school, which raised over a ton of food for the local food bank.
How do these roles benefit your team?
Behind every event, initiative and tutoring support resource, there is a tremendous amount of planning and strategy. The various and diverse coordinator roles who make up my team allow us to work in a programmatic, deliberate and accountable manner. By placing one person in charge and giving them specific responsibilities, my team is able to stay organized and have a clear understanding of responsibilities amongst the team so nothing is left to the wayside.
How are coordinator roles assigned to each AmeriCorps member?
Before the start of service, all of our sites' AmeriCorps members attend a site wide presentation at the City Year Kansas City office. During this presentation, our staff provides an in-depth explanation of our service components in Kansas City schools and a breakdown of the AmeriCorps member responsibilities. After the presentation, all AmeriCorps members have the opportunity to complete a survey ranking their top two coordinator role choices and indicate why. Many base their selections based on an area where they seek to be challenged and grow or around strengthening existing skills.
Once the survey results are collected, Impact Managers meet with their Team Leaders to review preferences and determine coordinator role assignments. Our goal is to assign AmeriCorps members to roles that will best benefit students and build each AmeriCorps member's skills. When we review the preferences people indicated, we place a lot of emphasis on the why behind their answers. For example, if an AmeriCorps member expressed a desire to build on and strengthen his/her event planning skills, we assign them to an event-planning heavy role such as the behavior management coordinator role.
How do coordinator roles build leadership skills?
Our AmeriCorps members gain invaluable experience in project management, time management and communicating ideas to others. In their daily work, AmeriCorps members are able to develop a vision, lead a group of people through the entire planning and executing process, and learn what it takes to run a successful event or initiative and be effective communicators.
As an impact manager, how do you support AmeriCorps members, particularly around their coordinator roles?
I meet with all of my AmeriCorps members, along with my Team Leader, around what is working and what is not working well in their roles. I do my best to coach each individual through any problems or issues that arise and work hard to determine who else might be able to provide additional support based on the type of work being done.
A process that I have found really helps AmeriCorps members in their coordinator roles is setting a goal or expectation and then compiling a list of everything required to accomplish this and assess progress during check-ins and see where I can be of extra support. I also collaborate with other impact managers across the Kansas City site to share best practices for coaching AmeriCorps members.
This blog is part two of a monthly series. What else does the City Year AmeriCorps role involve? Read part one to learn more!