by Zachary Davidson, AmeriCorps member serving with the Condon K-6 School team

“Watch me squeeze, squeeze. Watch me lemonade.”

Allowing room for students’ creativity is a great way to make any lesson more engaging. The lesson plan for one Tuesday of our extended day program centered around teaching students about business fundamentals using lemonade stands as models and one of the topics we covered was creative marketing, hence the remix to “Watch Me.” I was one of the lead AmeriCorps members for that day along with my teammate, Erin.

A reflection tool we are introduced to at City Year is the leadership compass. Each direction illustrates a different style of leadership or planning and it is most commonly used to analyze a team’s dynamics and make sure that there is a balance between each aspect. For example, North represents leaders who are action-oriented and would prefer trial-and-error approaches to long-drawn-out planning periods. Leaders who point South are very in tune to the emotional state of their team, able to anticipate how best to meet everyone’s needs, and build strong relationships. Erin and I stand at opposing cardinal directions, West and East, respectively. West is the domain of the detail-oriented, methodical, and thorough. East is the land of vision, big-picture thinking, and top-down processing.

As we approached planning this hour of time for our students, instead of finding ourselves at odds with how to proceed, we were able to operate with a smooth give and take. Together we generated engaging, intentional activities and fit them into the framework of the program. This is illustrative of a larger pattern I have found while serving with City Year: instead of seeking those similar to us, who we are comfortable teaming up with, we are encouraged to throw ourselves into the diversity of our teams and find those whose skills complement our own.

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