By Marilyn Mora, AmeriCorps member serving at the Sarah Greenwood K-8 School
For someone who has the memory of a goldfish, getting a handle on all of the Morning Greeting chants we sing and dance as we welcome the students to school has been a personal challenge. When my team members give me a shout out during a chant, passing the lyrics to me, I freeze and my mind goes blank. With the spotlight on me, I can’t remember the words I was just chanting with the group.
Turns out, I wasn’t the only one struggling to learn the words.
Andre* is an 8th-grade student in our extended day program with whom I was struggling to get to know—I hadn’t been able to make much of a personal connection. My skills and methods for working with students were tailored toward a younger age group, so it took me a bit to refine and redefine them for older students.
While working with Andre I couldn’t help but notice that he kept humming a consistent beat under his breath so I casually asked, “Whatchya singing, there?”
He didn’t answer at first. There was another beat of silence before he said, “Actually I don’t know the words. What was that song you were singing this morning? Something red?”
Despite the many mornings where words failed to come to my mind, I was immediately able to recall the song. They came spilling out of my mouth, “City Year is what? Red Hot. City Year is what? Red Hot. City year is r-e-d with a h-o-t. Red hot, red hot, red hot!”
Andre beamed, “Yeah that’s it! Its been stuck in my head all day!”
We chatted back and forth about my lack of pitch and soon I found myself able to transition the conversation to the math problems at hand. Our relationship began to take root. Whereas before he never invited me to help him with his homework, he now welcomes my support.
I look forward to seeing Andre continue to grow academically—and to being able to welcome him (words and all!) to school each day!
How else are our AmeriCorps members building relationships with Boston's students? By...
- Finding a shared interest in athletics and sports;
- Being patient and building trust;
- Asking questions and taking an interest in the student's hobbies.