Learning is a comfortable environment

In this week’s blog, Equity Intern, Richard¬† Dzreke ’25 reflects on his summer combatting learning loss with young students in the YMCA of San Francisco’s Power Scholar Academy, helping him understand how to be an effective educator. Read more about how Richard learned the importance of comfort in an effective learning environment.

When I first heard about the Equity Interns program from the Senior Director of the McCarthy Center, I was excited to apply. Getting an internship during my first year of college, especially a paid one, was an enticing chance. When I learned the internship involved working with kids in a summer program, I was even more confident in my ability to contribute as an intern since I spent most of the school year working as an Engage Literacy Tutor for the Prince Hall Computer Learning Center in the nearby The Fillmore / Western Addition neighborhood. I viewed the internship as an extension of my work during the school year, but in retrospect, I learned there were deep differences.

While working with Prince Hall Computer Learning Center, I was very much used to a small number of students and often had the opportunity to work one-on-one with the kids. I enjoyed working there and building a relationship with the kids. It was easier to build a relationship with the kids than I expected since most of the kids in the program were related to each other either as cousins or as siblings. Prince Hall as a site, has existed for a long time and many of the previous generations of students who attended, sent their own kids to the same program. I could get the kids to build trust with me through non-academic activities like playing basketball and card games. This allowed them to get comfortable with me, and it eventually transitioned into our one-on-one tutoring sessions.

The site I was assigned to was Monroe Elementary School in the Excelsior District neighborhood. It was a bit hectic at first because the site didn’t really know for sure that they would have Equity Interns helping out until a week before we started working there. I had the opportunity to work with the educators in all the grade levels, from kindergarten to fifth grade. I choose to work with the fourth and fifth graders. I have always preferred working with older kids, much like when I worked at Prince Hall. For me, it’s easier to work with the older ones because it allows me to be more upfront, and I don’t have to worry as much about trying to keep younger kids focused during the lesson. I prefer a student having a hard time with a topic instead of one with a hard time focusing on an issue at hand.

I immensely enjoyed my time working with both the fourth and fifth graders on academics for the whole day alongside one teacher, Chad. Chad was a very skilled instructor, and he and I worked well together. While he taught the lesson plans, I made sure that the kids understood what they had just been taught on a one-on-one basis. It was a bit hectic at times and hard to help all the kids, but we tried our best and could at least help each kid at least once during the class work. I really enjoyed working with the kids and appreciated their willingness to learn. It was really fulfilling. The only thing I would improve about the experience is being able to go on field trips with the kids on Friday. I think that change in the future will help interns connect more effortlessly with the kids so that they trust the interns more in the academic setting. I believe it’s essential to show the children you have similarities with them even if you are an adult. To garner that trust, I played with the kids during recess through soccer and basketball.

My experience working with kids in a year-long program like Prince Hall Computer Learning Center and Monroe Elementary over the summer has helped me understand more intricate parts of being an effective educator. I loved the summer program, but I believe it should be expanded to cover the whole year or if that’s not possible, the entire summer. A summer-long program would also allow them to get used to each other, unlike the kids at Prince Hall who saw each other often, so they got along well and were comfortable in their environment. I believe comfort is vital to an effective learning environment.

Meet all of the 2022 Equity Interns here!

Achievement GapEquity InternSan Francisco Unified Schol Districtstudent teachersSummer Academy ProgramSummer Learning LossYMCA

arwilliamsonraun • August 24, 2022


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