By Epiphany Acevedo, AmeriCorps member serving at City Year Boston
What’s the first step in turning around a school? Winning over our students. As with any middle schoolers, it will take some hard work and dedication on our part to earn their trust and respect, but we are ready to give it our all!
I’d heard plenty of corps members serving at elementary schools talk about how much their students idolize them and how they let students wear their City Year gear as a reward for good behavior and academic achievement. I didn’t know if a similar approach with middle school students would be as effective. That is, until recently.
It all started when Patrick “Swayze,” one of my team members, let an 8th grade student who often struggles with his behavior wear his red bomber jacket for the day. After the first couple of class periods, it was already clear that thanks to Swayze and his student, City Year bomber jackets had become my middle school’s latest craze – every student I passed in the hall wanted to wear my jacket. Realizing this, my fellow corps members and I decided that students would be able to creatively earn the privilege of wearing our jackets.
“…every student I passed in the hall wanted to wear my jacket.”
Instead of requiring students to exhibit specific behaviors, we decided to tailor jacket requests to each individual student. In other words, Student A might need to turn in all of his homework for a week, while Student B might need to practice tuning out distractions during class. Most students are extremely motivated to work on whatever we ask of them in order to wear our jackets.
Now that we have reached a concord with our students, I am psyched to see how we can use the red jacket craze to help them grow personally and academically.