No two corps member’s experiences are the same. Despite the uniformity and all around can-do attitude that our members possess, they are individuals from different walks of life.
It’s one of the beautiful things about serving; being able to connect with people whose backgrounds and ideas vary from your own, and growing as a result of sharing those differences.
We applied that method of learning more about our corps members to our school visits. What we eventually hope to do is provide our audience (current & future corps members, alumni, potential partners, etc.) with the corps member’s perspective of their experience.
What Good Will That Do?
One of the coolest things I’ve seen in my time with City Year occurred at a Learning Development Day (out-of-school training), where the entire Corps broke into groups to share experiences from their week with one another, namely the struggles they’d faced that week.
The idea was for a member to share an obstacle they're facing (resolving poor student behavior, struggle connecting on particular lesson, etc.) and gain feedback and possible solutions from the rest of the group.
Online, this is known as 'crowdsourcing', where the user poses their question or problem in a particular field to the masses, and they receive feedback from individuals who either have those answers or possess experience in a similar situation.
By sharing our corps member's experiences, we open a channel where members can share their conquered challenges with members in Chicago and in our sister sites, all while putting our idealism to work!
We’ve started calling it 'corps-sourcing,' and although it's still in the early stages of development, the benefit of creating an international dialogue and sharing our ideas is clear.
Corps members receive direct support from their Team Leader, Team Manager, and a series of trainings before and during the year to prepare them for difficult situations, but there is something beautiful about seeing members interact, connect, and build off of one another.
In our visits, one of the main questions we ask members concerns the development of their partnership with their partner-teacher(s) - a keystone relationship during the course of a service year.
As would be expected, partnerships between corps members and teachers generally develop quicker when the teacher has either worked with City Year members in the past, or works in a school that has a standing relationship with the program. Being able to connect those members - applying the things that construct their partnership while identifying potential pitfalls - strengthens the experience of all members involved.
So, while no two corps members’ experiences are the same and their approach to tasks may be different, their goal in City Year is the same; student development and improvement.
Providing members the opportunity to gain a different viewpoint, apply new methods, and communicate with one another on a different level ultimately benefits the kids who we've all joined to help.