Reflecting on my Service Year
As I look back on this unique year of service, I feel grateful. My City Year experience has been incredible. It has been full of laughter, joy, and growth.
My service has looked a little different than expected. An average service week for me entails working hybrid and in person. Whether at home or in a physical classroom, I am helping to support students. I’ve strived to challenge myself daily to do a little better for the communities I serve.
As I approach my last few months with City Year, I want to reflect on the many wonderful memories I created with my students and partner teacher in the classroom. Some of those include acting out Romeo & Juliet with my students, celebrating my partner teacher’s accomplishment of completing graduate school, and seeing a student’s face for the first time when they turned on their camera for the first time! But, I also want to acknowledge some of the challenges and rewards that have come with serving in a pandemic.
One of the biggest challenges at the start of the year was the reality of what serving virtually meant. I had never met the students face to face and I felt a bit intimidated about how I would introduce myself to the class. At first it was difficult to connect with the students or even get them to engage with other students on Zoom. It took a bit of time to connect, but funnily enough, it was my youthful appearance that allowed me to connect with the students. Many of my students thought I was in their grade. I took it as a compliment (because, why not) and used it as an ice breaker to connect virtually.
Although I was able to break the ice with my students, they did not fully accept me overnight. It took an entire semester of service, including small group activities, morning greetings, and taking the time to learn about each student’s individual interests to create meaningful relationships. Creating this important bond required patience, compassion, and persistency on my part. I also had to remind myself why I serve as a City Year AmeriCorps member. Reminding myself that I serve to strengthen bonds within local communities and help children to understand the joy and power of learning so that they can have a brighter tomorrow helped me carry on through challenges.
Reminding myself why I serve gave me the opportunity to share this with my students and over the course of this year, they have taken this message to heart. In small ways, my students have provided their unique thoughts and opinions regarding our lesson plans and overall made teaching more enjoyable. In our class, my partner teacher and I have provided space for our students to share interesting information and facts they have learned over the year with their peers. The school year is not quite over and there is still much more work left to be done, but I am looking forward to seeing what is next for my 8th graders. They are currently preparing to enter high school this upcoming Fall and I know in my heart that they have the skills necessary for this next chapter in large part due to their City Year AmeriCorps members.
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