From day one of COVID-19 shutting down daily activities, events, and socializing, we’ve been hard at work helping our community. Whether we have been packing and handing out groceries to families in need or tutoring students over video chat services, we have continued to serve Broward County. We want to share how this is happening through “A Day in the Life of an AmeriCorps Firewall Mentor”.
“I wake up pretty early so that I can have some breakfast before logging on to tutor my students. While I’m eating breakfast, I take a few minutes to look through all of our social media platforms to make sure that we are staying in close contact with our followers. Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, when I sit down to tutor on my computer I always make sure that I have a trusty stylus by my side so I am able to write on the screen. I think that being able to write on the screen gives more of a personal touch to tutoring. After I finish the tutoring session for that hour, I give that student advice and links to additional resources so they can continue practicing the topic we went over. Every hour, I log on to help any student that logs on for tutoring. Once in a while, I also text their parents to remind them of our tutoring sessions and the topics we are working on. With all of that work, my day usually finishes around 4 pm.”
Many of our mentors’ days look like this as they continue to build those relationships with the students that we serve. This is just a glimpse of how we are combating COVID-19.
COVID-19 has impacted us all. The world has been essentially shut down, but Firewall Centers wanted to create a sense of normalcy for the students that we no longer get to see in person. Our primary concern is for the health and well-being of the students and communities we serve, so we started virtual tutoring sessions. Even though the school buildings are closed, students still have work and need assistance.
Throughout the week, our mentors go online and help students in any way that they can. Our mentors are continuing to contact parents, check grades, and are there to listen to the students during this difficult time. Marcela, a mentor who serves at Plantation High School, has loved the opportunity to talk to the students and help them from afar. Marcela said, “I know the students are happy to see a familiar face. We chat for a bit, catch up on how they are doing, then jump into the homework.”
Even though we won’t be with our students as they finish up the school year, we are happy we have the opportunity to see them online and look forward to seeing many of them next year.
Transforming students into servant leaders is at the core of what we do here at Firewall Centers. A perfect way for the students to see how a servant leader should act is by looking to our AmeriCorps Firewall mentors. This year, we have seen several former Firewall students become part of our mentor teams. They are some of our best mentors, as they are able to connect with the students on a deeper level.
Sebastian Requena, a former Firewall student, is serving at our Flamingo Elementary center as a mentor to his own group of students. Sebastian was a part of our program starting when he was in sixth grade. He is currently a senior at Western High School and walks to his center daily after school.
We have watched Sebastian grow into a young man who truly exemplifies the characteristics and life lessons that we teach our students. He works hard in school and then works hard after school to invest in some of our elementary students.
Next year, Sebastian plans on going to school for Bio Medical Engineering to work with prosthetics. We are so happy that current Firewall students have someone like Sebastian to look up to.
We’ve all at one point or another had difficulty learning something. Whether it was Chemistry in high school, Algebra in Middle school, or even Art in kindergarten, we all needed to find a way that we learned best.
Many students today focus on the Procrastination-Cram method, where they wait until the last day or hour and try to “cram” as much information in their head as possible. Other students maybe use memorization or repetitive mnemonics to help them recall the information.
But, what teachers and professors are finding out is that there are small good things that can help with the big bad work they have to complete. Anthony D. Fredericks, Ed.D speaks of many “laws” about teaching/learning in his book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Success as a Teacher. I found a way to condense them into 3 easy techniques.
The first technique is Content. Relevance, association and interest play a big part in what you are teaching. Make sure you are using examples that your child can understand and relate with. But, not just things that are new.
The second technique is Interaction. Your student wants bright, colorful, moving parts. They want to be able to see and feel that they’re doing something that has impact. Just like when you work and you get paid, they seek that direct causal relationship between input and output. Which leads us to the last technique.
The third technique is Effect. Your child needs to see the effect when there are no moving parts. The reward and the challenge needs to exist. Overcoming a challenge can be a reward in itself. But, if the task becomes to cumbersome, a reward at each milestone can help them move forward.
Hopefully, these techniques can aid you in assisting your child or student in many ways!