The “mid-fall slump” and what to expect
When serving with City Year—as with any experience—there are peaks and valleys. There are times when you may feel energized, motivated and full of ideas, like at the start of service. And there are other, more challenging times when you may feel uninspired and fatigued, which tends to happen about halfway through service. Many corps members start to feel this way around mid-fall, right before the holiday season and winter break.
Though, this part of the City Year experience may be particularly challenging, it’s also normal! And we want you to make space and feel prepared for it.
Here’s what you need to know about this unique part of the corps member experience:
The challenge of being “in the middle” of your service journey
As the school year moves into the fall and winter seasons, we have shorter daylight hours and colder weather. You’re starting to feel the physical, mental and emotional toll of the work—showing up day in and day out for your students. And it seems that just as you’ve hit your stride, you and your students are starting to lose steam. It’s a challenging time for everyone in the school community. Your partner teachers, and teammates are likely to experience a similar shift in motivation.
So, now is especially the time to get strategic about motivating students in their academic and social-emotional learning. Maybe this means finding new and exciting activities for afterschool or simply spending more time checking in with students during lunch or between classes.
However, you choose to approach re-engaging your students and know that they’ll appreciate the extra time and care you’re taking to support their needs.
“It can be a difficult time of year for corps members. But I remind myself that my students might be feeling the same emotions and struggles, which makes the work we do so much more important now. This is when things can get really challenging for everyone—both academically and emotionally—so the support I’m able to provide them really makes a difference.” –Sumana Shashidhan, City Year New Hampshire ‘20
Self-care and building community outside of service
While you’re continuing to show up for your students, don’t forget to show up for yourself! We know that AmeriCorps members work long hours, but it’s crucial—and healthy—to find joy and community outside of your work.
Do you like to treat yourself to the movies? Is there a particular gym you enjoy going to? Maybe there’s a dance class you’d like to attend?
Find how you can engage your passions outside of service, as they will help sustain you through the challenges. And if you’re personal self-care plan isn’t enough, don’t hesitate to reach out to your City Year community. There are several mental health and wellness resources that City Year offers to corps members.
“Just connecting with the passion I have for dance is something that’s helped me a lot through the ups and downs of service, not only physically but mentally. It has been a big form of care for me.” – Sumana Shashidhan, City Year, New Hampshire ‘20
Recentering, reflection and looking forward
Once students and teachers go on winter break and service has slowed down, take the time to recenter and reflect on your experience so far.
Find a piece of paper and write down all the things you’ve learned—all the ways you’ve grown and stretched. And do a similar exercise with your students in mind; what has made you proud of them? What personal or academic goals did they achieve?
Looking forward to the rest of service, think about what goals you want to set for yourself. Do you want to find new and innovative ways to engage your students? Do you want to plan and lead a school event? How will you take the lessons learned at the beginning of the school year and apply them to the rest of the service?
And when your students return from break—hopefully a bit more energized—be sure to ask your students similar questions!
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