By Suzie Nahach, Baton Rouge AmeriCorps member proudly serving at Baton Rouge Bridge Academy.
As the school year comes to a close, I decided to use this blog as a time to reflect on the school year and what I have learned during my City Year. Coming into City Year, I was a recent college graduate who didn’t know what she wanted to do. All I knew is that I wanted to serve in a place where I could have an impact. I couldn’t have anticipated all the ways in which my year of service would impact me. Joining City Year was one of the best choices I have ever made and I’m glad I did. Below are three important things I learned throughout my service year:
- Schedules are made to be broken.
As somebody that likes knowing what their day is going to look like ahead of time, one of the biggest things I learned this year was that it is okay to change your day as it happens. Working in a school environment, extreme adaptability was more necessary than I could have ever imagined. Especially in an elementary school, you never know how the kids are going to behave or how well the material will sink in. Because of this, I have had to make quick adjustments and figure things out as I act, a skill I was honored to refine this past year.
- You won’t improve if you don’t act.
Feedback is the biggest helper during your year of service with City Year. As somebody who has always considered themselves somewhat independent, knowing when to ask for help and feedback is one of the biggest things I learned during my time at Bridge Academy. Being thrusted into a new environment and doing new tasks can be intimidating and I was apprehensive about some of the material at first. I quickly learned the importance of asking for help, materials, and feedback from my partner teachers and from the instructional coach at Bridge Academy. Being clear and constructive with my communication helped me and the students get what they needed.
- Just because something works doesn’t mean it can’t work better.
Especially with my small groups at first, I tended to do similar things every time. As the year progressed and I got more comfortable asking for feedback and extra materials I was able to change things to make the groups more effective. During my City Year, I learned not to settle for what worked, but keep looking for creative ways to convey concepts to students in more effective ways. Learning how to better convey information to help students was one of my favorite skills I explored this year and a skill I am excited to take onto life after City Year.
Looking back on my City Year experience, I leave with a bittersweet taste in my mouth. I know that throughout the year I learned as much or more than the Bridge Academy scholars did. I am forever glad to have received this opportunity and am glad I took it. Even though I will not be going into education, the skills that I have learned through my City Year experience will travel with me wherever I decide to go.