This summer I will be interning at Youth Life Southwood, a nonprofit organization that focuses on working with at-risk kids on furthering their education and learning development. Youth life’s mission is to create long-lasting relationships with children from at-risk communities in the Richmond area. The goal is by starting at a young age (K-5) students will have a support system that not only academically challenges them, but builds character, raises expectations, and commits 100% to a child: hoping to create leaders of tomorrow. The vision is simple “is to nurture the child, strengthen the family, and rebuild the community”.
“Where you lead, I will follow, Anywhere that you tell me to” – Carol King
The lyrics above are from Carol King’s Song, “Where you lead I will follow”, and they perfectly describe the type of leader/follower relationship I have with the kids I teach at Southwood. I am in a leadership position as a teacher in the South wood learning Center for the Summer 2020 program (Recap above). This position requires me to lead by example, and to make sure that every action is one that I would be okay with the children seeing. “Most children hear what you say, some even do what you say, but all children do what you do” (exploringyourmind). The type of leader/ follower relationship that my kids and I have is strong because children are constantly searching for mentorship. In other words, kids even if they exclaim their independence both need and want a leader to show them the way. This is because a child’s basic way of learning is through what psychologists call observational learning, methods of learning that consists of observing and modeling another individual’s behavior, attitudes, or emotional expressions. They have to watch other people, in order to create a guide on how to act. Observational learning doesn’t always occur through imitation, often times it happens through observing and recording actions and reactions in certain social situations. For example, if my kids get into trouble and I was to yell at them, that would teach them \if someone makes a mistake then it is appropriate to yell (It is not). This is an example of how abusive behaviors at home or school can severely influence a child due to observational learning. All of our kids come from predominantly single parent households and trauma is something that is common in the learning center. It is our job to be trained as teachers in what is called as Trauma Informed Care. Trauma Informed Care is a program that creates readiness in teachers to respond to trauma not with anger but understanding. Usually trauma is displayed through sudden grief, sadness, acting out and anger. It is our job to Validate and Empathize. Listen to understand. The goal is to share and receive traumatic information with an understanding of the importance of the conversation. Listen to what the children have to say, and what they mean. Address concerns while communicating that what they feel is both real and valid. My leader and follower relationship is one of close following that is based on action