Out-of-School time offers and interesting conundrum that I had not expected. I should have expected it, but I didn't.
With school, people are compelled to send their children by law. However, out-of-school time is an option and requires intense relationship building and trust building to make it successful.
For the past year, the UNCC Writing Project and Discovery Place Inc. have been offering monthly out-of-school time community events at Renaissance West. I've talked about that some here.
However, the trick has been getting parents and children to actually attend the events. This is a brand new community and the residents don't know each other. They don't know us. And it's hard to separate us from all the people watching over them from the Charlotte Housing Authority. The first step is to build a relationship of trust. It is to let folks know that we are there to learn as much as we are to teach and the last thing we are there to do is to tell them how to be in the world.
Writing all of this has made me wonder what we ARE there to do. We have definite views about literacy and learning and the intersections between science and literacy. We are offering informal learning spaces. But we are also really working hard to keep what the residents of the community already know if front of us and use that to connect up the world of school with their lives. And that's the really hard part because we have to first earn trust before we can learn about these things.
In May, after 8 months of coming to the community, this little girl came flying through the door with her grandmother and said "I'm SO happy to see you here."
YES! A step in the right direction.