January is our month of reflection and planning for our next semester of programs. In this time it is important to look at the work that was accomplished and the work that still needs to happen in order to offer effective programs for the community.
Here are some reflections from our Organizational Team Leaders:
This past year I learned about the importance of communication. This semester I was on top of replying to emails from OT’s and fielding questions effectively and efficiently. I found that this very much helped the program run smooth and help volunteers feel supported.
This semester I was able to successfully organize and run brief but effective team meetings. As my program offers in class support it can be difficult to find a time to meet as a team with all of the volunteers that works for us all. Finding a time for group meetings has been difficult previously so I was super happy to be able to successfully implement that this semester and have a dedicated team that made it possible.
Practical Impacts on Learners
Volunteering in the classroom myself I definitely see the impact that my time and role has on the students in the classroom. I can infer that this impact is the same for the other volunteers and the other classrooms that they support. Having extra support allowed for someone the children felt comfortable asking questions to and could get help from during seat work. It also helped children who needed the extra focus to get assistance which in turn helped the whole class during work. Especially at the school I am working at, the children appreciated developing relationships with a caring adult.
I learned and developed many leadership qualities, such as building relationships with volunteers and learners, the importance of introducing oneself to parents during pickup and forming relationships with them. As well, I learned how to be aware of and help 9 learners at once.
The Frontier College volunteer experience has impacted my year positively. I look forward to program every week and it is usually my highlight. This experience has helped me further grow my leadership skills and confidence working with children.
One of my biggest challenges was ensuring that each learner got individual attention and finding new and creative ways to help each learner in a way that suited their learning style.
I faced a few challenges in my adjustment from volunteer to team lead. One instance was a result of my role changing from always working directly with a learner, to some weeks working directly with learners and others overseeing the volunteers work with them. In my new position as team lead I had to maneuver the need to have short discussions and provide each learner with my attention at some point in each session whilst being sensitive to timing, so as not to interrupt the progress being made between the learner and volunteer groupings.
As an OT I learned more about myself and others regarding responsibility, team work, trust, and the value of being over prepared. My confidence increased as a result of my increased responsibility to Frontier College, the learners, the volunteers I was working with, and the community centre. I learned skills in relation to taking initiative, trying new strategies even if they may not prove beneficial, and distinguishing between when situations were or could be in my control and when to put my trust into the volunteers under my management.
My experience as a team lead through Frontier College has impacted me greatly. As a team lead I get to work with children, which I love doing, as well as, improving my professionalism and management skills in my work with volunteers. As well, I have met wonderful new individuals both young and adult. The experience allowed me to feel that my role is valued and to be on a constant lookout for areas and ways that I can improve or intervene for myself, for the volunteers and for the learners. Also, my outlook on community work and non-profit organizations has been broadened. In addition to this, I have found a new appreciation for unexpected events and things beyond my control arising because with them they bring a multitude of lessons.
My Frontier College volunteer experience has taught me communication skills while dealing with many ranges of ages. I am grateful for the opportunity to face my fears of speaking to a group in such a caring and accepting setting.
The students at our reading circle showed improvements in reading and writing, but also in communication with their peers and tutors. It is very rewarding to see them come to program with excitement and new stories to tell.
There have been some difficulties motivating certain individuals, but our volunteers are so wonderful and motivating. They always found a way to adapt to the situation and make it more exciting for their learner.
Looking at our goal to create safe and effective spaces for children and youth to learn, these reflections show that we are on the right track and have great things in store as we continue to build on these strengths and weaknesses. We are all eagerly anticipating the start of this new term!