Holiday break wrap-up

Well, we had our final Project MARCH meeting for the year Wednesday afternoon. Between the struggles of getting the local pizza place to deliver (they’re not so hot about driving through the projects) and so forth, the meeting lasted for over 2 hours. But, in the end, we got some stuff hammered out and got ourselves oriented for the second half of the year.

The main issues involved were dealing with transitions in the homework club and getting all the homework clubs on the same page, re: procedures, rules and schedules.

The former is a big issue because, at least in our club, the whole afternoon is one big transition rather than a set of distinct, individual transitions. The first graders are done with their homework often within a half-hour of their arrival. But we’ve got at least 2 and sometimes three waves of other kids coming in afterward at about 15-30 min intervals. So everyone’s getting done at different times and there’s rarely a time when everyone is done with their homework at once. This makes it hard to manage, because those who are done get bored and want to go outside to play, but we can’t do that and leave those who have just arrived and who aren’t done with their homework alone in the club. It doesn’t help that the late arrivals are the older kids who have more and harder homework – meaning that they often take the entire rest of the afternoon to finish, if they get done by closing at all. And it’s rare that everyone who’s done wants to go out – there’s always a few who want to stay in and play games, so we can’t just split up into two groups (which, with two of us on duty, would be doable).

And that’s not even taking into account the disruption of snack. Gah.

Anyway, our supervisor’s going to be working on it over the next few days. Hopefully, she’ll have some great ideas for us after the break.

The latter issue I’m a bit more skeptical about. The problem with aligning all the different homework clubs is that we each have unique issues, needs and concerns. Some clubs have a lot of kids, others have just a few. Some have lots of volunteers, others have almost none. Some have Hispanic families, others have African-American kids and there’s even a healthy population of Russians and Eastern European immigrants in one club – each with their own ethnic, cultural and situational differences. What works for the quiet, respectful Eastern European kids may go over like a lead balloon with the hip, urban African-American kids and be completely incomprehensible to the Hispanic kids. Plus, each of the Americorps teams has varying resources and responsibilities that make running each club a unique process.

I know why our supervisor wants to streamline these things – it’s hard to supervise several independent and autonomous programs bearing little or no correlation to each other – but I’m just not sure how far it can be taken and still be functional, given the individual needs each club has. I’m all for trying, mind. I’m just not sure how it’s going to work out.

Other than that, it was just a matter of synchronizing our calendars, airing any difficulties, getting some ideas from the other club staff and calling it a day.

Oh, we did, indeed, eventually get our pizza in the end. So all is right with the world. Happy Holidays, and see you next year!

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