We’re excited to celebrate the 800,000 people who have served through AmeriCorps since 1994 and to highlight the service of our current AmeriCorps coaches.
Teaching cooperation in DC is a daunting task. In a city that is infamous for its division, Playworks DC’s seven AmeriCorps coaches take on that challenge every day with a smile and countless high-fives. Each coach commits to 1,700 hours of service in schools, implementing programming to teach valuable social and emotional skills through play.
“I’m hopeful that they will continue to be successful as they apply this skill of cooperation again and again both in their classrooms and outside at recess,” said Coach Em, an AmeriCorps coach at J.O. Wilson Elementary. After a month of hard work, her students have accomplished what seemed impossible at the beginning— taking a small ball from behind their coach and working together to hide it when she turns around. The game is called “One Fish, Two Fish,” and the class’ first attempts were not as pretty.
“They spent the time I gave them to strategize dancing in a circle, chanting,” she explained.“We played multiple rounds of the game and each round the group was collectively unsuccessful.”
While it’s funny to picture, this is a relevant issue for adults as well as kids. Collaboration is difficult—it requires compromise and strategy. Coach Em and the other DC AmeriCorps coaches know that if we develop this skill in students, we’re working our way towards a more cooperative country.
As more and more employers are looking for “soft skills” such as teamwork and communication when hiring, it’s important to focus on how we set our children up for future success. Each Playworks coach develops lesson plans specific to the classes they work with, carefully evaluating what skills they need to work on, and teaching these skills through age-appropriate games and challenges. It’s truly a labor of love as coaches like Em often spend ten hours a day at school planning and carrying out this individualized programming. It’s a lot of work to get the concept to “click” for a group, but the reward is worth it.
“This time, instead of dancing and chanting, the students picked a strategy that worked incredibly well. They formed a line from one side of the room to the other, making it very difficult to differentiate one student’s role from another. As I looked at that line, I was greeted with the smiles of students who were confident that this time they would be successful,” said Coach Em, beaming with pride.
This week, we’d like to honor our Playworks AmeriCorps members for their hard work to build a future of confident, cooperative, and playful individuals. Thank you for your commitment to service, our community, and our country.
Interested in becoming a Playworks AmeriCorps member? Learn more!