2015-05-06

Many City Year Boston teams are fortunate enough to have a room in their schools for meetings, lesson planning, and team bonding. These “team spaces” are valuable assets for City Year, but as all of our schools vary in size, age, and resources, team spaces vary as well. The State Street Foundation team serving with Higginson/Lewis K-8 School decided on day one that we would do our best to turn our team space—a small room off of the gymnasium that we share with other afterschool programs—into the most effective and enjoyable space possible. Here are five ways we brightened up our team space.

1. Appreciations
Appreciations are an essential part of City Year culture, so we dedicated part of a wall in our team space for appreciations. Now, every time we walk in, we see thank-you notes that team members have written to one another. These decorations make us excited about working together, grateful for the support we give one another, and motivated to continue appreciating each other throughout the day.

2. Quote Boards
Let’s face it: all students say wise, unexpected, and hilarious things every day—and adults do too. Several months ago one of my teammates converted an unused dry-erase board into a “quote board” for us to record these sayings. Reading these quotations not only makes us laugh and remember fun moments with our students; it also provides consistent motivation when we feel stressed. No matter what challenges we may face in tutoring our students, there is always room for laughter.

3. Creative Data Display
In February, our team’s evaluation coordinator, Angela, created a Hawaiian-themed, 15 square foot data display to show the amount of tutoring time, each team member has spent with each of the students he or she supports academically. Each week, we color in on a bar graph the amount of minutes we need to be on-track with each student, and then use a different color on top to show the amount of minutes we have actually acquired with each student. The chart helps us visualize the goals we need to achieve and also helps us recognize when a team member needs some extra assistance figuring out how to best work with one of her students.

4. Goals and Priorities Board
Our team leaders, Taryne and Ryan, put together a “Goals and Priorities Board” on the back of our team space door. Titled “Hig-Lew Ristorante,” the board asks us “What’s on your plate?” and gives us a space to post what we hope to accomplish every week in attendance, behavior, coursework, and events initiatives, as well as our personal goals. Like the data display, the “GAP” board lets us see when a team member needs extra support, or when we can work together on similar initiatives.

5. The Whiteboard
With all of these structured areas, it’s helpful to have a space for team members to express what they need, in any way they like. On a small whiteboard to the left of our team computer, my team draws pictures, write poems, makes lists, and plays games with each other. Through this whiteboard, we display our frustrations, aspirations, and talents, and we relax around each other. We have a free space to express ourselves and appreciate each other.

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