I just left a writing workshop with 18 Edwin Markham Middle School girls. We all left in tears, sharing hugs and words of encouragement after revealing some of our deepest struggles through original poetry. It was that kind of workshop.
I am at Camp Ubuntu, a 3-day and 2-night experience for 100 of our students hosted by the Harold Robinson Foundation. It’s happened for multiple years and when I was invited to attend this year I jumped on the opportunity. Not only do I love being in the outdoors and at camp, I have seen the powerful impact outdoors and overnight activities have on our students and our school communities. Being out of the city with students always allows us to form deeper connections and relationships with one another. Whether we’re cheering each other on as we cross a tightrope, 50 feet in the air, hiking, taking a hip hop dance class or sharing a meal, we build bonds that will last a lifetime and positively impact our school culture and community. I’ve only had these experiences as a teacher and wondered what it would be like as a literacy coach who does not directly teach students. I am happy to share that it’s been just as beautiful and impactful.
I’ve been traveling with a group of girls who named themselves “The Soul Sisters.” They are 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students and I’ve seen most of them on campus in their English Language Arts classes but I didn’t know any of them well. Our last few days together have allowed me to learn their names, meet some of their parents, laugh, dance, and eat with them, and get to know them as individuals. All that I learn and the bonds that we build will positively impact my work as a literacy coach. The more I know my community and the children we serve, the better equipped I am to support our teachers in being the best facilitators of literacy learning for our students.
While we all may not have the opportunity to come to the awesome Camp Ubuntu, we all have the opportunity to say yes when we’re invited to an event that will allow us to build bonds and deepen our connection with our school community. We can all build relationships with staff members to learn more about their work and how it impacts or connects to the literacy work we’re doing. We can all attend events where families and community partners are present to learn, make connections and build bridges. We can all say yes to deepening our knowledge of the children we serve in an effort to better meet their needs.