A Lesson in Flexibility

By Katie Doyle — Education is a field that requires a great deal of flexibility.  Lesson plans are always being readjusted, student needs change from day to day, and the field is constantly changing.

I have always been a pretty flexible person, but City Year has taught me a whole new level of flexibility.  Corps members need to be able to adapt to the shifting needs of the schools in which they serve.  My school is a new partnership for City Year, so we are still navigating together what the best needs are for us to fulfill – and we need to be flexible. Some days we don’t have a space to tutor students, so we need to tutor outside if we can’t be in the back of the classroom.  The students enjoy being outside, but it’s not always an ideal academic setting.

City Year is huge on collaboration.  We always talk about “Students First, Collaboration Always.”  We are collaborating with the 6th grade teachers on lessons for our after school program to better align the curriculum.  Because we are extending the learning day for 6th grade students, it is important that what we are doing during the after school program mirrors what is being taught during the school day.

Collaboration between City Year corps members and teachers is a wonderful thing that really benefits the students, but it requires a lot of flexibility on both ends.  If something doesn’t go as planned during the school day, or lessons during ELT can change with little notice, we must be prepared to adjust.

City Year is teaching me about being flexible and doing whatever it takes to help the students.  My corps year will leave me with a plethora of skills to use beyond my experience with City Year, but above all else, I believe I am learning a very valuable lesson in flexibility.  The needs of students and schools are ever changing, so what I do needs to change with them.

Flexibility is important in all goal-oriented fields.  Seeing the end result is important, but sometimes the end result needs to change and adapt to fit student needs.  It’s important not to get too bogged down on following a specific plan.  If things need to change, we need to be flexible enough to change what we are doing in order to meet the needs of the students and staff at school.

My advice? Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket.  Have a back up plan (or two) and know that there are multiple solutions to a problem.  Keep the big picture in mind, but remember that there is more than one path and you may need to come up with a different way to reach your goal.

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