As you may know, City Year AmeriCorps members serve in many functions and are given the opportunity to wear multiple hats. An average day of service for each AmeriCorps member looks a bit different, even within a given site. This blog will provide a better understanding on how you can make an impact in the communities you will serve and the multiple hats you’ll wear along the way.
It's not always easy to be excited about waking-up early and getting to school by 7:30AM, especially if you're 13 years old. As City Year corps members, we have the unique opportunity and challenge of getting students excited about school. This process may look different across schools and grade-levels, but you can always depend on a City Year team to rouse excitement to start in the morning. We start out with a powerful session of power greeting, helping students get excited when they step into the school. As the day continues, AmeriCorps members follow-up with chronically absent students and create action plans to get them to school every day and on-time. Within the classroom, City Year corps members also need to think of new and creative ways to motivate students and encourage them to invest their academic work.
Master of Data
It's a data-driven world, people. Businesses, organizations, and communities alike are tapping into large datasets to evaluate and improve the efficacy and effectiveness of their efforts. City Year is no different. With the advent of new technologies and advancements, measuring the impact of a City Year team in a school has become something of a science. As student advocates we are uniquely positioned to record, utilize, and understand our student's progress. As a corps member, you will have the opportunity to learn how schools track student progress and growth; furthermore, you will have the responsibility to decide how to best use this data in your tutoring and interventions. From lesson plans to school-wide events, you will constantly have opportunities to refocus and refine your service. Whether you are a novice or you have mastered aspects of the data-sphere, I can almost definitively say you will walk away from your City Year experience with a better understanding of how to be intentional when creating data-driven solutions.
Friend, mentor and coach. As a City Year AmeriCorps member, you will go into schools across the country and work with students who are at-risk for dropping-out of high school. In order to succeed, many students may just need a friend to get them back on track. They need a safe person to share their feelings and thoughts with - an objective listener with an open heart and an open mind. Some students will need more support and consistent tutoring. For example, I serve in a bilingual 5th grade classroom and many students I work with started their academic year reading several grade-levels below average. Using both pre-existing data and data you will collect, you will coach students to both "catch up" to their potential and "keep up" with their work. Finally, as you develop relationships with students you will find that certain kids will need and want more from you. With these students you may find yourself taking the role of a mentor –teaching them how to handle life's curveballs and modelling what a responsible adult does and can accomplish.
Yes, ladies and gentlemen, while this is not literal, it is quite serious. As agents of change, we focus on improving the schools we serve, and all of our students. While serving, you may find yourself running from one student to another. Coaching each one through de-escalation techniques, helping them resolve conflicts, and working through their challenges. You may even find yourself supporting the staff throughout the day. When you wear your red City Year bomber, people instantly recognize that you are a safe, caring adult. It is an honor, undoubtedly, but wearing the red bomber is also a responsibility, like a fire fighter.. Wear it, and communities will want your help.
A lot can change in one year. City Year will give you the space and time to challenge yourself, grow as a person, and advocate for students who can thrive with your support. While you may find yourself serving in all of the roles stated above (and many more!), you will always be a leader in the classroom, in the community, and beyond. Service requires hard work, long hours, relentless effort, and a lot of patience. These experiences will help you hone your skills as a dedicated leader – step up to the plate and swing. Remember, failure is part of the process. You might swing your bat 10 times and only hit the ball 4 times. Does that mean you have failed? No, that means you still have an MLB Hall of Fame-worthy batting average. Don’t be afraid to fail and don’t be afraid to lead, City Year will help you improve at both!