We talked to this group of coaches in the first week about being taken out of their comfort zone if they joined PC. The reading sessions are prime examples of this factor being put into action. Not only do our coaches have to read aloud and present the stories using different engaging strategies, but many of these ELL students have to do this in their second language. We thought for sure the coaches would shy away, at least for the first few weeks, from stepping into the spotlight.
Luckily, we were wrong. These motivated teens had seen their co-coaches enjoying themselves and having success the first time around, now it was their turn and they did anything but shy away from the opportunity. Entering the gym to a group of surprisingly quiet, visibly excited elementary students, the coaches proceeded to their designated areas to begin their literacy lessons. On this particular reading day we were set to cover the story titled Teammates, highlighted by the courageous relationship between Jackie Robinson and his teammate Pee-Wee Reese.
Right away I knew it was going to be a good session. The coaches jumped right into the books, making sure all coaches had a role in the reading and each elementary student was engaged in the presentation. Using multiple books and printouts, coaches displayed the pictures as they read aloud and asked open ended questions to test the students involvement. Some of our English Language Learning coaches who had shown signs of shyness and reluctance in the first few weeks were confidently reading aloud to their groups, stopping and reflecting on each page as they did, allowing their co-coaches to ask engaging questions and provide visuals for their narrative. This was one of the rare times our staff felt proud to have a quiet gym.
This was a truly great moment to witness; young teens stepping out of their comfort zone, using the pull they have in their own community to get kids excited about learning and reading. Having one of these young students step up and take on the reading himself is exactly why our program exists. The more young adults we get to take on positive leadership roles and become serious about changing their community, the more children will follow their lead and will know what it's like to have that positive non parental adult influence during their developmental years.
With only two weeks remaining in this intensive, five-week program, our focus will be to continually improve each day. The coaches are working extremely hard during training and prep days in order to be ready for the elementary students during both gym and reading sessions. This week the Project Coach staff has prepped these young ELL leaders to run their own literacy lessons and mini basketball practices while addressing issues of emotional regulation and conflict resolution. We are so proud of these coaches as they have taken huge steps each week, focusing and dedicating themselves more and more every day.