2018 Week 5: Education
This week was a week filled with teamwork, leadership, and learning! From Tuesday through Thursday, I attended the Community School Coordinator Summer Institute 2018 at Fort Worthington Elementary/Middle School. This 3-day conference gave me the wonderful opportunity to meet many community school coordinators across Baltimore City and learn the framework of equity, educational standards, and relationship between families and communities.
On Wednesday, I had the opportunity to learn how to construct an Action Plan. An Action Plan is an organized framework to developing goals that are effective and detailed to achieved. I found this skill to be extremely useful for long-term goals that can be reviewed after a year. By using an Action Plan, I would be able to identify the successes and challenges and modify or create new goals for the coming year of a project.
On Thursday, I learned methods of reducing chronic absenteeism within community schools. Even though I had a small background in the topic, I came into the discussion eager and present to learn more factors that cause chronic absenteeism and ways to reduce it. Among all the workshops, I found the opportunity to meet and connect with other community school coordinators to be worthwhile. Initially, I felt worried that my age and little experience in the field would have me ill-prepared for this conference. However, my enthusiasm and eagerness to learn equipped me best at times that required brainstorming and group discussion. By meeting new community school coordinators, I had the chance to exchange ideas on how to track attendance, maintain good attendance, and reduce instances of poor attendance among students.
Lastly, the most impressive workshop I attended was the “Understanding the Role of Equity in Education” from the Harp and Sword foundation. This workshop showed me how equity in education is dependent on cultural, structural, institutional, interpersonal, and individual interactions. Specifically, the assumptions/norms of a society (cultural) can hold institutions in place historically (structural) through institutional policies that impact interpersonal and individual interactions. Likewise, the individual and the higher tiers can impact and change cultural standards. I realized that as an individual I should not only focus on challenging the cultural, structural, and institutional standards, but I should also work within interpersonal communication to ensure fair opportunity in education.
As Week 6 comes around the corner, I am eager to come up with the next steps behind the chronic absenteeism data study!
This week went pretty slow because the preparation activities have all been done. The majority of my sections are centered either around canvassing or community meetings. Canvassing has been going well, and the young people are energized by their conversations with people in their school’s neighborhood. As for the community meetings, Baltimore Educational Equity as well as a leader in the Youth Climate Justice March came to speak to my students. BEE is looking to collaborate, and I am finding ways to ensure that the collaboration is successful and will continue without my involvement. This means asking some individual students to step up and take on leadership roles within the org, which I think is key to the youth led mission. The Climate speaker went to high school with me, and was instrumental to abolishing Styrofoam from the public schools. She walked us through her activism over the past year, and I think it was important for my students to see some of the other steps that precede of bypass canvassing during a campaign.
This past week was “Citizenship week,” which was the week in which they put me in charge of preparing and teaching lessons during the “counseling” section of the morning of camp. In the first two weeks of my internship, I created my lesson plans, activities, and accompanying activities for each class period. Starting on Monday, it was the first time that I had ever stood in front of a class and taught. Teaching has always been a huge passion of mine, and I feel so incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity to do it for the first time in a real classroom setting.
One of my fellow coworkers, who used to be a full-time teacher, described teaching as public speaking with a bunch of hecklers and people falling asleep. It was exactly that, and I loved the fact that you had to think on your feet and adapt throughout the class period in order for it to be successful and engaging. Since there are two middle school groups and a high school group, it was also very interesting to see how they each reacted and responded to each lesson and which parts they positively responded to or which parts they found boring. It was very challenging to shift a certain part of a lesson when it was deemed to be boring and grab the students’ attention again. I learned that making the lessons as interactive as possible was the best way to keep them interested. Also, when just lecturing to them, being sure that I presented the information in a way that made it seem like it was very valuable and important because the students were very good at picking up when something was just “filler information” and if they could not see the connection to a larger, important picture they would not pay attention.
There has recently been a small article published on WYPR titled “YouthWorks at Risk of Losing State Funding” ( http://www.wypr.org/post/youthworks-risk-losing-state-funding ). I am not exactly sure how exaggerated or true the article is, but the sheer notion that YouthWorks may lose their state funding due to the concerns listed in the article is absolutely unreasonable. The article states that a recent audit found there were 11 students who never participated in any YouthWorks worksites, yet were accidentally paid $1500 each. Additionally, the audit found that some youth falsified the hours they worked on their timesheets. For these reasons, YouthWorks may be at risk of losing state funding.
For reference, YouthWorks receives a portion of their $14 million budget from the state. But if we are looking at context, it is also important to note, that YouthWorks employs ~10,000 students during the summer. I understand that paying non-working youth or youth falsifying their hours sets a bad precedent, however; accidentally paying 11 students seems to be a relatively insignificant error when considering how many students are enrolled in the program (11 students make up approximately 0.01% of the total number of youth). I think that most logistical errors stem from the enormous magnitude of the program and the relatively small size of the staff. Instead of withdrawing resources as a punishment, I think that it is important to invest more into YouthWorks to help the employment program streamline some administrative tasks and programming.
One of my goals for the summer was to get to know more people who have grown up in Baltimore City. While I have the chance to interact with people from diverse backgrounds during the school year, these interactions are generally limited to students who moved to Baltimore to attend Hopkins (myself included). I was therefore really excited to meet the four YouthWorkers who just started working at our site this week.
Prior to their arrival, Mr. Manko warned me that the YouthWorks program can get a bit chaotic. In the past, Liberty Elementary took close to twenty YouthWorkers and had some issues with professionalism. For some of the participants of the program, this placement may be their first job experience. Mr. Manko therefore encouraged us to prepare an orientation in which we clearly outline expectations and schedules.
However, when the four high schoolers showed up on Monday, they were an absolute delight. When I led them through a few team-building activities, they were polite and a bit shy at first. After bringing them to their classrooms, they soon became an integral part of the learning environment. By Friday, they were calling out students by their names, giving out high-fives, and playing games with them in the cafeteria.
One of the Liberty teachers even sent me a nice note about one of the YouthWorkers:
“I wanted to let you know that Ms. T has been an asset to our classroom! She is wonderful with the kids — always patient and kind.
Best, Ms. F”
As their supervisor, it’s incredible for me to see the positive impact that these high school students have already made in their first week. I’m eager to see their relationship with the Liberty students and staff continue to strengthen over these next three weeks.Tags: 2018, Baltimore Squashwise, Child First Authority, CIIP, CIIP 2018, Code in the Schools, Liberty Elementary, Shepherd's Clinic, The Intersection, Week 5