Service Has Not Stopped. Service Just Looks Different.
Like so many districts across the country, schools in Los Angeles and Inglewood will continue with remote learning to start the 2020-21 academic year. Understanding the immense challenges and strain this will place on schools, City Year is preparing our corps in order to provide a continuum of support via online and virtual learning.
We know this year will be particularly challenging. A recent LAUSD report found that more than 50,000 Black and Latinx middle and high school students in Los Angeles did not regularly participate in virtual learning after schools closed in March. By now we all know the sobering reality about our city: students who are most likely to need additional support may be receiving the least resources, and continued school closures will likely widen existing equity gaps.
City Year Los Angeles is ready, as always, to serve our students. Expanding on the pivot we made in March from in-school service to nearly 3,000 students across 200 virtual classrooms on a variety of platforms, we have been preparing for this moment.
When classes resume, our AmeriCorps members will join teachers in virtual classrooms at 25 schools to help students reconnect with their school community, re-engage in their learning and recover from learning loss. To prepare, our corps will focus on practices that will best meet the needs of students, teachers, and partner schools as they move forward with remote learning. This month, during Basic Training Academy, an intensive training and orientation, AmeriCorps members will learn the fundamentals of virtual classroom support; chat-room small-group tutoring; school culture social media posts; pre-recorded lessons; after school programming; attendance promotion; remote social emotional development for students, and more.
Our local and national team of instructional coaches and program staff have spent the last several months designing online trainings, professional development and classroom content that promotes academic and social emotional recovery efforts through consistent presence in virtual classrooms, one-one-one interventions and tutoring using our partner school platforms.
For example, at Florence Joyner Elementary School, AmeriCorps members will partner with 3rd-5th grade teachers to implement both individual and small group interventions as part of their virtual service. To aid in the school’s literacy efforts, AmeriCorps will host small group readings virtually. Additionally, they will leverage online platforms such as Zern (for Math) and Amplify to help students build STEM skills both in the classroom and in after-school virtual programming. AmeriCorps members will also be devoting time to meet student’s social emotional development needs via Zoom breakouts, where they will help students set goals and host personalized social emotional check-ins. Finally, to add to the virtual service experience, they will implement power-greetings, both live and pre-recorded, as well as mindfulness workshops to keep the City Year LA energy alive in the virtual space. This is just a glimpse into the new normal of virtual service for our corps.
While service will vary from site to site, as each school, classroom, and student has different needs, we will continue to focus our overall efforts on English Language Arts, math, social emotional development, and attendance support because now more than ever, our students need a champion in their corner who believes in them.
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