Written by Mariyam Sumareh
Today marks the first day of Summer Bridge for the students at The Laboratory School of Finance & Technology! It is exciting to see many young faces gathered after the year we have experienced. Throughout today, students across the grades engaged in academic and enrichment activities.
We had over 100 students attend summer programming, and we are excited to keep the momentum going. One thing for sure is that today has been a success. It's exciting to know that this is some students' first time being in the building while doing their whole sixth grade experience virtually and were able to engage with their classmates and instructors.
Through all of the first day challenges, we were able to get it done thanks to the students’ flexibility and the drive of all of the amazing staff. Students were able to sample the enrichment activities, exploring and getting a taste of each club so that by the end of tomorrow they can choose where they would like to be for the remainder of the summer.
Take a look at what our students had to say about their first day:
“Today was awesome. I got to meet new teachers and classmates. I got to learn more stuff about the school. So now I’m prepared for the school year.” - Juelz Perdomo, 6th Grade
“My day went good because I got to make new friends and I got to see new faces. It was good to get to know the teachers” - Juliet Flores, 7th Grade
“My first day here today was fine as we did a lot of fun things like play a game for our birthdays and engaged in Ice breakers” - Anonymous student, 8th Grade
Videocasting is a great way to add a personal touch to our digital communications. After options like emojis, bitmojis, gifs, or images, recorded video is one of the best ways to “be” with our students and colleagues. This video highlights some of the best practices for welcoming students back to classes and reminding them of the important information they may need to remember to jump back in. The video also gives them a nice way to ease back into school. It is overly demanding on their cognitive skills but conveys useful information. By adding text to highlight key points and visuals that add some spunk or humor, we engage students' senses in connecting with someone they know, their teacher.
Some key things to remember for best results:
Our goal in everything we do is to make students want to come to class. Youth is a time of intense change and making sense of the world around you. Students will do the things they choose to and find the most ingenious ways to make it happen. Throughout this time, I am often brought back to a singular question: When students have every opportunity and avenue to choose to not be in class and not engage, how can I get them to look forward to, want to, and choose to be in class?
The Arete Internship Program recruits outstanding middle and high school students, as well as, alumni from the Lab School who are interested in pursuing careers in the field of education. As interns, they develop job readiness skills and experiences that enhance their college applications and job resumes. Interns are specifically trained to provide up to 5 hours per week of tutoring and mentoring services to middle schoolers who are struggling with remote learning assignments. The free virtual Tutor Program takes place during after school time (Monday - Friday, between 4 and 7 PM) in secure grade-level zoom supervised by Arete staff members.
Each student who participates in the virtual Tutor Program is recommended by their teachers and approved by their guardians. Intern-tutors are provided with access to Google Classrooms and communicate with the teachers on a weekly basis in order to better prepare for their tutoring sessions. In order to keep teachers and families informed, tutors email weekly reports of their students’ progress.
Interns learn about various education issues, are trained on specific teaching skills and engage in ongoing reflection to improve. Interns receive professional development in the areas of community outreach, social-emotional learning, lesson planning and overall job readiness. They participate in weekly meetings to track progress toward goals and collaboratively discuss ways to improve. In addition, each intern undergoes 3 observations per term as part of their job readiness evaluation. Their evaluation consists of data from observations, student progress reports, family and teacher surveys, as well as, their own self-assessments.
Interns who successfully complete the program, walk away with an understanding and appreciation for what it takes to support students and families in their community. They exit their internship with specific job readiness skills that can be applied in many different types of work and professional settings.
Below is a sample of an intern-tutor’s weekly schedule (interns can work up to 8 hours per week)
Watch Senior Intern Kailyn Espinosa share what she has learned about planning mini-lessons in this video where she presents a lesson she will use to train new peer-tutors.
“The most rewarding part about my tutor experience has been being able to showcase my abilities in helping people in hopes that they will gain from me, the same way I gained from my teachers.”
-Joselyn, 9th Grade Intern
This 16-week internship program initially began this spring with 8 high school interns preparing to gain job-embedded skills to enter the education field through an innovative internship program at the Laboratory School of Finance and Technology led by teacher leader and Areté Education Director of Professional Learning, Edward Martinez. Since the ramifications of a global pandemic have radically altered the context for the internship, these high school students (now swelling to a group of 20!) are now serving as the lifeline for middle school students during the final weeks of remote learning for the 2020 school year.
“The best part of it all is learning and teaching at the same time.”
-Jose, 10th Grade Intern
The goal of the 16-week Internship Program at Arete Education is to prepare students at HS 223 for job opportunities in the education field. Interns are provided with professional development centered on leadership skills, curriculum development, and social-emotional learning. The weekly work schedule allows for each intern to provide 6 hours of small group tutoring services to middle schoolers who need extra help in ELA or Math. The interns also receive up to 4 hours of professional development per week to support their growth. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, all professional development is now being delivered through remote learning via Google Classroom and Meet.
“What I find most useful about the Intern-Tutor experience is learning how to manage classrooms, create lessons, and work with students.”
-Natalie, 10th Grade Intern
The Internship uses a community service-learning approach where the interns study education issues and receive specialized training in order to address the academic and social-emotional needs of MS 223 students. Interns who successfully complete the internship program, walk away with updated resumes, portfolios of the work they completed and recommendation letters they can use for future employment. The interns will also have an opportunity to be employed in the summer and fall programs that are operated by Arete Education and its partners.
“My intern experience has allowed me to gain many useful skills such as the ability to manage classroom behavior. This skill is very important when dealing with children and this internship has given me the necessary tools I need...”
-Chanel, 12th Grade Intern
The Interns are currently in the process of preparing enrichment club lesson plans that align with the workshop model. They partnered up to design fun and interactive lessons for the after-school setting. Last week (April 16th), the interns had the opportunity to receive guidance from MS/HS 223’s Principal, Dr. Gonzalez, who participated in a Google Meet session. The students engaged in a discussion to critique each other with feedback. Much of the suggestions that were provided were rooted in consistency with having clear and measurable objectives, simplicity, and alignment. The lessons ranged in genres from analyzing song lyrics, drawing 3-dimensional objects to creating a space for team-building. Dr. Gonzalez was impressed with the high level work that the interns were doing. Before the session was over he let the interns know that “It takes years for teachers to learn these concepts, but you are all showing your learned them after a couple of sessions... Pretty impressive!”
“One thing that I have found useful about my Internship experience is understanding that there are different ways to help students... that being an intern is not only about helping a student, but also about building a relationship in which they feel comfortable asking for help.”
-Evelyn, 12th Grade Intern
“I definitely feel more confident to lead a group of middle schoolers because of how I have been taught to deal with different scenarios that I may face. I just overall feel more prepared. I am capable of creating a lesson for kids that is engaging...”
Franklin, 9th Grade Intern
Many people use the phrase "Practice makes perfect" to depict the process of learning. Ulrich Bose pointed out that this is a remarkably ill-defined expression. Does practice mean endless repetition? Does practice involve feedback and reflection? Should practice be hard or fun?
Learning is a complex process. A growing body of research has shown that practice alone is not enough. We also need learning strategies. We need to be smarter with the practices by designing and utilizing strategies. Many research studies have consistently suggested that learners are not born but made. We are ALL able to be good at something through the dedicated practices and constantly refined strategies.
Research is making it clear that when it comes to become expertise, learning strategies can be more critical than raw smarts. Marcel Veenman found that people who closely track thinking and continuously reflect learning will outperform those with high IQ levels in terms of learning new things. His research also revealed that focusing on how we understand is 15 percent more important than innate intelligence when it comes to develop mastery. Learners are made, not born. IQ is not the only answer, EQ has to be concerned and actively be engaged in the learning process.
Areté has been strategically employing emotional intelligence in our after-school programs. Emotional Intelligence simply denotes being smarter with feelings. We provide students ample opportunities to understand emotions, to develop self-awareness and to reflect about their learning. By being smarter with feelings, students are able to identify their thinking, feeling and action patterns in learning, design and refine learning strategies and adjust the practices accordingly. Through this iteration process, they gradually get better at learning.
We do not simply urge students to practice and practice all the time because we believe practice is not enough for making perfect. We help them to learn smartly by employing strategies. We believe it is not enough to give them fish, but more importantly, teach them how to fish.
Recently, I went to see the film, Harriet. When I was younger I learned about Harriet Tubman but I learned a lot more after watching her film. One thing I learned that I didn't know before was how (in detail) she would free slaves. She was a slave herself before anything else. And the fact was that she was so resilient regardless of what the consequences would be. She fought for her family and fellow slaves but most importantly, she fought for herself. She did what she thought was right despite what others around her thought. Overall, the experience was every encouraging and the realness of the scenes made me very emotional. I was able to feel all of the emotions and it was nice to finally get out of class and watch a film. Also ,the snacks were amazing.
Reflections from Blackity Media Studies HS 223 Students