The Boston PIC program with Boston International High School is a summer remediation program that works with high school students by providing employment and academic opportunities.
It is important to form relationships with all of the students in the program.
Students need to believe in themselves in order to succeed.
Staff need to remain positive and supportive for students, in spite of setbacks.
Having the program located at a local college helps students start thinking about college readiness.
Developing students’ public speaking skills allows students to become more confident in themselves.
Working in groups and being a part of a smaller cohort helps create a sense of community.
Q: Is it an intentional practice to have staff members build relationships with students? If so, how was this practice communicated to staff?
A: Yes, it definitely is intentional. For me, coming from the PIC as the career specialist, one of my practices is intentionally trying to know each one of the students. The school has about 400 students, maybe a little bit bigger. It is not too big that you can’t talk to all of the students and try to form some type of relationship, even if it is small talk. Between all of the staff, we will all know the students. I might know a third really well and another staff member knows another third really well, and that is how we are able to intentionally engage all of the students.
Q: What are the most important characteristics for staff members to have to build positive relationships with students?
A: For staff, the thing that I see in all of us is a passion for youth development and the continual pursuit of youth, in spite of the way that they react to us or setbacks that happen. It is one thing if the issue is that a student just does not understand a math problem; the challenge is when a student says, “I don’t get the math problem and I don’t believe that I have the ability within myself to do the math problem.” This is a whole other kind of issue. The students need to be championing themselves. We create an experience that allows students to believe they are capable. The staff need to remember that, as hard as it gets, they could be the person that says that one thing that changes the course of that student’s life.
Q: What are some ways that program design aided in relationship building between staff and students? For example, were classes small to foster communication?
A: Small class sizes and getting students at a local small college within the city. The location allows them to start seeing things they don’t normally see on the day to day. College is the dream, it’s not a reality yet. The first part is getting the students there, and that’s where our location is key. The other part is the smaller class size. Small class sizes really help develop the mentality of “this is my group, this is my cohort, this is where I can grow into a community.”
Additionally, on Fridays we have check-ins and career exploration. This is a way for them to practice public speaking and to help them feel confident in who they are. I’ve found check-ins to be where the group gets super solidified. It is a unique share-time, where we are not doing academic work. This is also where we mix the whole cohort, so that they are interacting with people who they might not have classes with. Having good work sites where the students are working in small groups is also important. I’ve found that whenever two individuals can do something together it is a growing experience. Working in groups helps students grow and become a community together.
The Boston PIC program with Boston International High School is a summer remediation program designed to serve students at this specific school, where all students are newcomers in some way to the country. Part of the program is the academic and professional side, but it also aims to help students learn and adjust to U.S. culture and society, specifically to that here in Boston. The purpose of the program is to reengage students and to help them academically and culturally. When the program ends, the goal is for the students to be more of a cohesive cohort and be champions of one another.