Friday, March 13th 2020, at 5:28am, the Promise Corps college and career coaches received word that they would not be going into service that day. At the time, we thought it was temporary, an early spring break if you will. But as the 2-week post mark approached it quickly became more and more real that we might not be returning to school. We left that Thursday prior not realizing that that would be the last time we saw some of our students in person. I know personally, I felt nervous and unsure as to how the rest of the year would play out service wise and if I’d ever get to interact with the student I had such a bond with.
Flash forward to the day I’m writing this on April 29th. I have been exposed to numerous professional development resources, been able to collaborate with my team on presentations, write blog posts, and most excitedly interact with my students (and I hope to continue to interact with them more and more).
The start of our virtual service was definitely a little rocky for everyone. No one quite knew what it was going to look like or how things would go. But we all learned to adjust together. For the first 2 weeks of virtual service it involved a lot of great articles, webinars, Ted Talks, and Documentaries on a variety of topics. Some of these topics included, The Neglected Race Gap, talking about the Corona-virus, classroom management, building confidence, and mentorship. These resources allowed us to hear, see or read about a topic from experts or from other’s personal experiences and then use guided questions to help us really reflect on the information we were engaging in.
That being said, the topics weren’t solely about our interactions with our students. The Promise Corps administrative team was sure to add plenty of resources to help us with our own professional development. One of my favorite professional development activities we participated in, talked about how we as Americorps members can use our experience and frame it in a way that shines to potential employers. When I first considered Americorps, that was one of my biggest fears. I was scared that adding this year of service to my resume wouldn’t be as impressive to future employers. And I was more scared that I wouldn’t feel equipped to explain my service to future employers, but after going through that resource I feel more confident!
Our virtual service then transitioned into beginning outreach to students, most coaches’ favorite activity. We utilized google voice to reach out to our students by phone and email. These calls involved checking in on students mentally, academically, and physically and seeing how we can help and if we can point them in the direction of resources they may need.
Currently, we as a team are working to find ways to incorporate ourselves into our students google classrooms in order to both be a help to teachers and to encourage our students to stay engaged in school. Different schools have been joining school staff on meetings to stay up to date on school and school district protocol. Some schools have also already begun hoping to google meetings with classes and grade levels for town hall meetings. These opportunities are great ways to let students and teachers we are still there to support.
Overall, I think I can speak for the whole Promise Corps team in saying this is not how any of us saw this year going. But we are working diligently to take these changes gracefully and be able to support our students as much as physically possible through this difficult and unclear time.
Abbey Piro – College and Career Coach at School of the Future