Making headway, seeing results

Sorry no post yesterday, but last night was another of my precious few flights of entertainment fancy (the Asylum Street Spankers were in town and I couldn’t say no), and so got in way to late to be doing stuff like blogging or, really, anything requiring complex thought and abstract expression. Like brushing my teeth*.

Yesterday morning, though, both my morning Supervisor and I were too caught up in election results to get much done, although she did ask me to create and send out holiday appreciation letters to all the volunteers – in the last half hour of the morning! Er…well, I got them created, anyway, and did the mail merge for the labels by the end of the day, and finished it up today.

That afternoon, our program Supervisor came in for our newly instituted monthly lunch hour meeting with the admin at the housing development, where we brainstormed some ideas for getting volunteers, and then she spent the rest of the afternoon at the homework club giving us a hand, which was cool. And it gives us the ultimate “out” for the rules and behavioral tweaking we’re working on (we’ve let them get away with a lot, out of pure ignorance and overwhelm, that we are now starting to eliminate) – we can just say the boss saw such and such behavior and told us to shape it up.

Ahhh, nothing spells relief like the sweet escape of the inarguable and immovable ‘blame-the-absent-boss’ routine.

It was also nice to have someone else around in a position of authority, so that the kids could see that the behavior we are expecting of them is not just coming from us being dictatorial butt-heads, but is the norm expectation from everyone involved.

And the tweaking and tightening of rules, plus this normalizing exposure to corroborative, supportive outside authority seems to be having a real affect. We’ve had some face-offs in the last few days which we’ve handled far better (and with more decisiveness) than we have been in the past, and the kids actually seem to be settling into a higher level of behavior. We’ve had to send a few home to straighten up their act, but instead of surly push-back, it seems to be resulting in a grudging acceptance that such is the logical, if unhappy, result for a bad choice of behavior. It helps that we’ve made it clear that being sent home isn’t a punishment, per se, but merely a way of allowing us to remove a disruptive and resource-hogging issue from the homework club situation so we can get on with helping everyone else.

Yesterday, we also got rocking and rolling on our service project activities by holding a forum discussion on the connection between poverty and nutrition. Today, we followed that up by having a visitor in to check the kids’ height and weight so that we could figure their body mass index and explain to them what it means, which (for the most part) went pretty well. School’s out tomorrow, which means no homework today, and that generally bodes well for the tenor and tone of the day and this was played out today. Aside from one home-sending episode (which in turn provoked a very positive change in the trend of behavior from the child involved – yay!), we got through the day with mostly smiles, progress and plenty of toy prizes handed out.

Tomorrow, we’re going to the Health Adventure to learn more about nutrition. Should be fun!

(Yes I did actually brush my teeth. But it took way more concentration than it should have done.)

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