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City Year’s Virtual Game Room

The Importance of Developing Powerful Relationships

City Year AmeriCorps members develop powerful relationships with students and help create an environment where students can build on their strengths and feel connected to their school community. AmeriCorps members get to know students. Through the time they are able to spend connecting with students, AmeriCorps members learn about their interests and their lives in and out of school, from their favorite sport to their talents in music to what they like to do with friends.

With this understanding of the student experience, AmeriCorps members are able to build developmental relationships with students, a foundation necessary for students to acquire critical skills and engage more deeply with their learning. Students see their AmeriCorps member as someone they can trust and turn to for help.

City Year AmeriCorps members work with educators to help create a welcoming school environment where they feel like they belong and are excited to engage and learn.

Being virtual this year had it’s set of challenges. However, AmeriCorps members and teachers found creative ways to build connections with students through a screen. Learn more about how the City Year team at Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education designed a virtual game room to help connect with scholars.

City Year’s Virtual Gameroom

A warmup used in the City Year game room.

This school year, our team wanted to find a fun way to connect with our students. We decided to do this with a game room. Our game room was a virtual setup for the students to let loose and have fun while getting to know their City Year corps members and each other. The game room was held every Tuesday from 2:30-3:30 pm. To make the game room as fun as possible, we incorporated every student’s ideas. They helped pick what type of music to play, what games to play next, and what prizes should be included as an incentive. The way we tracked all of the information was with a survey that was given to the students mid-game room.

Our first game night brought excited students who made their opinions heard during “This or That” and made their own PitCrew avatars! Our second game night involves a memory Kahoot and a “Spot the Emoji” challenge. -Sierra Anderson, Impact Manager

Game room was originally created as a mental escape for students after a long day of hard work. We wanted a space for students to have fun and build relationships with them. All the while the students were having fun and not even realizing they were also building relationships with us. Gaining valuable relationship building and assertiveness skills are two skills they will use far after they graduate.

Another game room activity done by students and AmeriCorps members.

As an incentive for attending two, game room sessions in a row, students were entered into a raffle for a chance to win an awesome prize. One of the prizes students had a chance to win was a “family game night” box. The box was filled with two games to play with the family, some popcorn, some candy, and some snacks. We brought the game room to an end sadly, when the students transitioned from virtual to in-person learning. As a final bang, we had a conjoined game room for all of the students to come have one last laugh and end on good terms. As sad as we were we enjoyed every moment with our students and loved to watch their creativity flow.

Reflection written by Tamia McDowell, City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member 

Learn more: A new study by the Everyone Graduates Center (EGC) at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education provides strong evidence that City Year’s holistic approach to providing school-based interventions is successful in advancing student social, emotional, and academic outcomes.

About the Author:

Tamia McDowell proudly serves as a City Year Milwaukee AmeriCorps member at Barack Obama School of Career and Technical Education. When asked why she serves, Tamia said, “I chose to serve with City Year because I wanted to switch up my lifestyle and give back to my community. The goals of City Year really drew me in. It brings joy to my heart that I’m able to fulfill my desire to help students. I know now days education can have a huge impact on the lives of today’s youth, and I’m hoping my contribution has an impact even if it’s a tiny one.”

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