As a member of the after school program team, I got to dive right in planning lessons for enrichment clubs at Jackson Elementary and lesson planning (and occasionally subbing) for Monday tutoring students. I'd tutored before, taught English, and even have some bilingual health education experience under my belt, but wrangling a group of kindergartners after school was a whole new ball game. How are you supposed to design literacy-based activities when they're still working on writing their names? Somehow we figured it out, and I developed a new appreciation for emergent literacy. Plus, getting to hang out with that always-stoked little bunch of muppets became a highlight of my week.
Perhaps the coolest part of my time here, looking back, was getting to be a part of the progress and development of tutoring students. Writing lesson plans that work on fluency and phonics is one thing, but seeing the impact of a good student-tutor relationship in action is quite another. I wholly enjoyed learning the mechanics behind getting someone up to speed in reading and writing, especially students coming to English as their second language. But what I will really take away from the tutoring program is the understanding that a student who feels respected and empowered is far more likely to learn in the long run, and that one positive relationship can be the tipping point for putting a struggling student on the path to success. With only a few more end of year assessments left to go, almost all our Monday students are up to grade level or beyond. However, what most excites me are the little sparks of inspiration I've seen between tutor pairs: like Fernando performing a poem he'd just learned, or Brayan learning sight words while playing Go Fish with his tutor every week.
Apart from tutoring and enrichment, I helped put on a series of events for TLC Family Lit families in partnership with Latino Outdoors. Part of the AmeriCorps internship requires a project that builds capacity for science literacy with a partner organization. Mostly the brainchild of Teton Science Schools graduate student Alfonso Orozco, I was excited to help make the connection between Latino Outdoors and Family Lit. With gear and logistical support from TSS, we took a stroll in Grand Teton National Park, learned about conifer and species ID at the Murie Museum, got some practice using bear spray, and raffled off some park passes for continued family fun. What a cool experience to see the families I know from TLC connect with the beautiful Jackson surroundings as I'm starting to explore them myself.
From here, I'll be teaching field education with Teton Science Schools this summer, and hoping to stick around as a volunteer tutor with TLC. I'm keeping my eyes peeled for more opportunities in education and feeling a conviction to stay in the classroom, especially with English Language Learners, in any capacity. I'm not sure that I could have asked for a better array of experiences, a work environment that's more supportive and conducive to growth, or a more enjoyable introduction to the Jackson community than I've gotten through this internship. Thanks, TLC, from the bottom of my heart, for having me these past several months! It's been a whim I'm sincerely glad I saw through.