GOOD

A City Education: Let Students Create an Environment That Fosters Learning

Time spent with students in small groups provides an excellent opportunity for our corps members to activate each student's leadership potential.

Through A City Education, City Year corps members share their experiences working as tutors and mentors in schools in hopes of closing the opportunity gap and ending the dropout crisis.


As we close out October, and our third month of serving with City Year, National Bullying Prevention Awareness month also comes to an end. Here at the Dulles School of Excellence, however, staff and City Year continue to work hard, encouraging our students to develop appropriate social and emotional skills than can not only help them handle cases of bullying throughout the year, but handle stressful situation as they arise.

With the influx of new faces this year, there have been some severe instances of students being bullied by those who've already been attending Dulles. One such student on our eighth grade focus list, DJ, said that when she came to Dulles this year, she felt excluded from her peers. She also felt as though she was being treated poorly and being punished because she was new. DJ's corps member, Ms. Watts, has been able to help DJ better understand why other students act the way they do and how she can shift her mindset in order to resist acting out or retaliating against other students. Ms. Watts is also working with DJ to encourage her not to take things personally. Since starting City Year's behavior initiative, DJ has had no write-ups or referrals for behavior from school staff.

As part of City Year's Whole School, Whole Child service model, corps members have lunch with their students twice a week. As they eat, they address student behavior by focusing on social emotional learning skills through our curriculum, 50 Acts of Leadership. In this program, students set goals for how they can grow as leaders in their school, family and community and log various good deeds they perform for others. This time spent with students in small groups provides an excellent opportunity for our corps members to serve as role models, forge deeper connections to their students' emotional well being, and activate each student's leadership potential. We are also able to help students identify the best way to deal with difficult situations in school and with others in a setting they feel comfortable in.

While 50 Acts of Leadership is a huge part of our social emotional learning initiative, I also encourage my corps members to always celebrate the small personal victories they achieve with individual students as well.


One corps member, Mr. Gitta, had a fifth grader named Mary who struggled voicing her frustrations and concentrating on her work when she became agitated. She is generally soft spoken, but she often shows frustration when others ignore or dismiss her opinions. As a result, she often distracted others students in class. Mr. G, as Mary like to call him, began building a relationship with her and they were able to work together to create a plan to help her manage stress within the classroom.

"I said, 'How can we create an environment that works for you?' " Mr. Gitta said. "Mary said she needed a separate place to refocus. Now she just gives me a look when she needs to sit alone at another table for a while."

If a student is being bullied and doesn't know how to handle the situation, she may not be able to focus on what is being taught in class, and in return her schoolwork suffers. In the New York Times article, "Can Emotional Intelligence Be Taught?," Marc Bracket, from Yale University, states that "emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn… If you're very anxious about something, or agitated, how well can you focus on what's being taught?"

In Mary's case, Mr. Gitta was all smiles when he reflected on her higher grades since they worked out a plan to find a table where she could sit quietly and refocus. "She took charge of her own improvement," he said.

At City Year, our priority is to improve overall student success. Many people think that this can be achieved through tutoring alone, but we know that only through developing individual connections with students and building strong social and emotional skills can we help them succeed academically.

Ending bullying begins with you so click here to commit to learning more about how to prevent it.

Photo courtesy of City Year Chicago

Articles
Julian Meehan

Young leaders from around the world are gathering at the United Nations Headquarters in New York Saturday to address arguably the most urgent issue of our time. The Youth Climate Summit comes on the heels of an international strike spearheaded by Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old climate activist from Sweden, who arrived in New York via emissions-free sailboat earlier this month.

Translated from Swedish, "berg" means "mountain," so it may feel fated that a young woman with Viking blood in her veins and summit in her name would be at the helm. But let's go out on a limb and presume Thunberg, in keeping with most activists, would chafe at the notion of pre-ordained "destiny," and rightly so. Destiny is passive — it happens to you. It's also egomaniacal. Change, on the other hand, is active; you have to fight. And it is humble. "We need to get angry and understand what is at stake," Thunberg declared. "And then we need to transform that anger into action."

This new generation of activists' most pernicious enemy is denial. The people in charge — complacent politicians and corporation heads who grossly benefit from maintaining the status quo — are buffered from real-life consequences of climate change. But millions of people don't share that privilege. For them, climate change isn't an abstract concept, but a daily state of emergency, whether it comes in the form of "prolonged drought in sub-Saharan Africa…devastating tropical storms sweeping across Southeast Asia, the Caribbean and the Pacific…[or] heatwaves and wildfires," as Amnesty International reportsare all too real problems people are facing on a regular basis.

RELATED: Greta Thunberg urges people to turn to nature to combat climate change

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

Millions of people in over 150 countries across the globe marched for lawmakers and corporations to take action to help stop climate change on Friday, September 20.

The Climate Strikes were organized by children around the world as an extension of the of the "Fridays for Future" campaign. Students have been walking out of classrooms on Fridays to speak out about political inaction surrounding the climate crisis.

"We need to act right now to stop burning fossil fuels and ensure a rapid energy revolution with equity, reparations and climate justice at its heart," organizers say.

There's no doubt the visual images from the marches send a powerful message to those on the ground but especially those watching from around the world. GOOD's own Gabriel Reilich was on the scene for the largest of the Climate Strikes. Here are 18 of the best signs from the Climate Strike march in New York City.

Keep Reading Show less

September 20th marks the beginning of a pivotal push for the future of our planet. The Global Climate Strike will set the stage for the United Nations Climate Action Summit, where more than 60 nations are expected to build upon their commitment to 2015's Paris Agreement for combating climate change.

Millions of people are expected to take part in an estimated 4,000 events across 130 countries.

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet
via Apple

When the iPhone 11 debuted on September 10, it was met with less enthusiasm than the usual iPhone release. A lot of techies are holding off purchasing the latest gadget until Apple releases a phone with 5G technology.

Major US phone carriers have yet to build out the infrastructure necessary to provide a consistent 5G experience, so Apple didn't feel it necessary to integrate the technology into its latest iPhone.

A dramatic new feature on the iPhone 11 Pro is its three camera lenses. The three lenses give users the the original wide, plus ultrawide and telephoto options.

Keep Reading Show less
Health
via I love butter / Flickr

We often dismiss our dreams as nonsensical dispatches from the mind while we're deep asleep. But recent research proves that our dreams can definitely affect our waking lives.

People often dream about their significant others and studies show it actually affects how we behave towads them the next day.

"A lot of people don't pay attention to their dreams and are unaware of the impact they have on their state of mind," said Dylan Selterman, psychology lecturer at the University of Maryland, says according to The Huffington Post. "Now we have evidence that there is this association."

Keep Reading Show less
Health