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Emily: Slowing Down a Bit

By: AmeriCorps Promise Fellow Emily Anderson, Serving at St. Paul Murray Middle School

“Working as a Promise Fellow remotely has proven a worthy challenge! I have found the most effective attitude to have during this time has been persistence. Our students are just beginning week three of distance learning, but have been away from school for well over a month now. Early on in their absence I started sending “Monday Mornings with Ms. Emily” emails out to students every Monday morning just to check in, connect and give students any school related updates. During the first couple weeks I had few or no responses from students. But by last week I had a good chunk of students responding, and was able to set up office hours and Google meets to catch up with students and answer questions.

I’ve found that most of them are doing just fine with their classes, and are adjusting and adapting to the distance learning model well. They’re proving their responsibility and independence! But they desperately miss their friends. Last week I got to host office hours where a few students came to the Google meeting and just giggled and talked like middle schoolers for an hour. In another Google meeting one of my students did sort of a sort of “show and tell” for me. She showed me a couple artifacts and pieces of art that her family brought from the country they immigrated from. That conversation started because those pieces were sitting in her space and sparked a thought in her about family and culture. I love that distance learning has allowed us the opportunity to slow down a bit, to learn more deeply about and have fun with our students. The challenge moving forward is how to engage students who are still struggling to get plugged in, and how to create sustainable community and closure as we look towards the end of the school year. And I love that I get to be a part of it!”

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