Eight months have passed since you were first introduced to the school where you would be serving. At the time, your mind was probably racing with questions. Will my students like me? Will I be an effective tutor? How will I manage all my responsibilites? It is now late April and you have no doubt answered all those initial concerns. In fact, after spending all this time with your students, you likely know them better than most.
This year of service has been a privilege as we watched our students progress emotionally and academically, all while triumphing over obstacles. While our journeys as AmeriCorps members are unique, we have the same end date. At graduation, the bright stage will shake from applause and excitement as you walk across it. Nevertheless, the jubilance could be dampened if you leave your classroom without preparing yourself to close a chapter.
Do not delay in informing your students that you will eventually be leaving their classroom. Before it is too late, students need to step back and recognize their own growth academically and emotionally. Ask them what are some important life lessons they learned from you and will continue to use later in life. This transition is an opportunity for your students to practice healthy relationship skills. While some students might become upset about your departure it is important to not feel guilty and talk openly about it.
Share your own future goals.
Whether you are returning to school, work, or even City Year, explain to your students that next year will be different for both of you. You can even use your future plans as a learning experience. Share age-appropriate advice with them on what sort of factors are important to you in deciding your future goal. Ask them to discuss what they want to do in the future. Candidly offer any advice on how they could realize their aspirations or show them other resources to learn more.
Leave lasting encouragement.
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Maya Angelou's quote aligns perfectly with what our students will take with them from our experience. We worked hard to instill classroom confidence in our scholars. If a little token of encouragement, like a handwritten note, reminds them of that spirit of success then our students deserve it. Take the time to write words of encouragement that students can keep with them once you aren’t in their class every day.
Say "thank you."
As challenging as this job might have been for you, your commitment was only for a year. Teachers and school staff handle the challenges of this job for much longer. Share with them and any other mentors you met this year how much you appreciate what they do every year and how much you have learned from them.
Your service the past 8 months have been invaluable to the life of several students. Take the time to press pause while you are still serving in your school. What did you learn about yourself this year? Who left a lasting impression on you? What are you most proud of? What was the hardest? Understanding these questions will paint a clearer picture of your impact in the classroom. Reflection will allow you to recognize how you have grown and what lessons to carry forward in life with you.
The reason you signed up for your year of service is the same reason you should remain involved with City Year Philadelphia or another local site once your service year is complete. Sign up for Philadelphia’s local newsletter or follow @CityYearPhilly social media. This way you will know about upcoming events, fundraisers, service days and other ways you can continue to support education in Philadelphia. All AmeriCorps members should update their contact info in the alumni database to remain in-the-know. If you would like to take a step further in being an active alum, apply to be on the City Year Philadelphia Alumni Board.