City Year AmeriCorps Member, Luke Pasko, offers advice to his fellow corps members on how to approach spring cleaning of a different kind. 

It’s March, and if you’re like me then your desk is as disorganized as your mind. Between lesson plans and post-City Year plans, a lot can get disorganized this time of year, so it’s necessary to take a few steps backs and do a little spring cleaning on all levels to get organized.

Organizations of the Mind
When you work in a school, there’s always a lot going on: you’ve got to go over the 20 new vocabulary words with your literacy students, finish preparing that one math lesson you're really excited about, meet with your partner teachers, and track your students’ progress. Doing all this means that you’re never truly settled, and your brain is never really at rest. Add the standardized tests and state assessments that come with the spring, and everything can be a little hectic. When I get overwhelmed, I like to find a quiet place and gather my breath and thoughts. I think about what’s stressing me out, how I can deal with it, and then give myself a few minutes of relaxation. A school is by no means a quiet place, however, you can improvise with closets, the bathroom, outside--wherever you feel comfortable. Taking a moment to center yourself is a practice that can be helpful to do with students as well. Leading students through some breathing exercises to relax is a powerful tool that can benefit them when they’re overwhelmed, both in and out of school.

Organization of Possessions
I wouldn’t call myself a pack rat, but I do like to keep a lot of things just in case they might be useful in the future (okay, maybe that’s the exact definition but still). I have a lot of papers in my desk, bag, folders, and binders--all awaiting the day they come to light. Nonetheless, I know where everything is, and I have an organization method that works for me. I could tell you that all students’ work is in the third folder from the bottom in the left section of my desk and that my job prep materials are all together in the laptop pocket of my backpack, but that information is pretty specific to me. What’s important from this is the fact that I know what organization I like, and key to spring cleaning is getting everything together in whatever way you want. Some team members have planners with everything scheduled down to the minute while others have desks where you can find everything from a detailed calendar to some hot sauce packets. Every person is different, so why should we expect everyone to be organized in the same way? I tell my students the same things, so find what works for you and stick to it.

Organization of Your Future
As we get closer to the end of our service term, that means it’s time to do what many of us dread--get organized with what we’ll be doing post-City Year. Whether it’s going to college or finding a career path, there’s a lot of options to sift through. Luckily, serving as an AmeriCorps member helps you develop a huge range of skills like working on a diverse team, providing comprehensive instruction, and forming good professional relationships. Additionally, City Year does everything in its power to help us on our way. Managers, Directors, and Team Leaders are all eager to provide guidance, recommend programs, and help us network. Even though not everyone has their futures mapped out, we are by no means alone in our process, so if you haven’t started organizing your future, this time of year is a great time to get it going.

Written by City Year Philadelphia AmeriCorps Member, Luke Pasko serving at Warren G.Harding Middle School. The work of Luke and his team is made possible by Team Sponsor, Wawa.


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