How City Year AmeriCorps members and teachers can work together
Every young adult who becomes a City Year AmeriCorps member wants to thrive as a student success coach—and that starts with building positive relationships with both their partner teacher in the classroom as well as the students they serve.
When AmeriCorps members and partner teachers collaborate to create a positive working environment, together they can accelerate student learning in the classroom.
Hannah Platt served as a senior AmeriCorps member at City Year Denver for the 2021-2022 school year and partnered with Ms. Moseley to support a class of fifth graders at Johnson Elementary. As the school year was wrapping up in late May, Hannah and Ms. Moseley shared their tips on how they were able to create a trusting and productive relationship that worked for them and their students.
Teachers and student success coaches give intentional feedback
Hannah: At the beginning of the year, we got to know each other really well. In the first couple of days of working together, Ms. Moseley pointed out the things I was doing well that she likes, and I tried to be wherever she wasn’t and check in with students she wasn’t working with.
So just being able to name what worked well, we’ve kept doing them as the school year went on.
City Year: So how do you go about naming those things? Because sometimes feedback can be uncomfortable, especially among people you might not know at first.
Ms. Moseley: In the beginning of the school year, we did meet a little bit more regularly to chat about how the week was going. But I think a lot of it just comes from conversations that we’ll have right after class for a few minutes and just touch base on what was happening in that day and how it went.
Hannah: At the beginning of the school year, I would come in before class started, which was really helpful since I was new to fifth grade curriculum. But after becoming more familiar with the material, we’ve just been checking in pretty much every day after class and asking, “How do you think that went?”
Ms. Moseley: I’ll also give Hannah a heads up on major skills the class will be working on so that she knows what to look for. Right now, they’re working on writing narrative stories. So I’ll tell her something like, “This is the type of feedback you can be giving the students and focus on this instead of these other things.” And then she just does it. That’s amazing.
City Year AmeriCorps members can mirror teachers for greater impact
City Year: How do you two go about balancing the classroom dynamic, making sure that Ms. Moseley is the teacher and Ms. Hannah is the student success coach? Because I know sometimes students can really gravitate toward a single person.
Ms. Moseley: If I’m modeling something, I’ll try to sometimes ask, “Ms. Hannah, what would you say for this?” And try to give her a little bit of voice, but I’m still the one teaching. But I think that kids feel very comfortable getting help from both of us and there might be certain things the student might go more to me or Hannah more based off our relationship with the student.
Hannah: It’s nice that different teachers can give different AmeriCorps members various levels of autonomy. And so, I feel like in this classroom with Ms. Moseley, I do a little bit more like talking and participating. And then in my other classroom, I do my pullouts in small groups in there, but use less of my voice during the whole lesson. So, I think it’s nice that it can vary per teacher and what they’re comfortable with sharing too. Ms. Moseley gives me a lot of autonomy in the classroom, which I enjoy.
Ms. Moseley: I’ll overhear Hannah working with students and she’s asking the same kind of questions that I’m asking, such as “What evidence do you find in the text?” And this is great because they’re getting almost the same level of support from their corps member and their teacher and they’re getting the same feedback from two people.
City Year AmeriCorps members can take initiative in the classroom
City Year: What advice would you give incoming AmeriCorps members?
Ms. Moseley: In past years I’ve worked with corps members, they have been helpful but they didn’t always give specific feedback to kids. Hannah is great because she walks around the room after class instruction and supports students by asking the same kind of questions that I would. I think students really respect Hannah because they know that she’s going to help them, and that she knows exactly what’s going on.
Building authentic relationships with the students is also really helpful. And I think sometimes the students, in a good way, they see a difference between the teacher and the corps member, and they know they can trust the corps members to talk about certain things that they might feel a little uncomfortable talking to their teacher about. So, if something does come up that I need to know about, then corps members can report back to me, and we can take the necessary steps to address the issue.
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