Neighborhood Opportunity Network

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We’re losing control…and it feels great! (Part 1)

Posted by sebastianbrown on December 10, 2009

Last night, the Nob Hill/Quebec Terrace support group met for the fourth straight Wednesday (taking a break only for Thanksgiving). After taking an official ESOL placement exam last week, the residents were clearly ready to get our very own ESOL class up and running as soon as possible. But, still, many practical obstacles stood in our way: we had yet to find a volunteer teacher, we needed ESOL work books, we still hadn’t secured a weekly meeting spot…etc.

As much as Ray and I wanted to use this as a capacity building moment and really start passing off some responsibilities to the group members, we also just wanted something concrete to finally happen…So we met with the ESOL program head at SS Intl. Middle School, Mary-Anne Hess. First, she surprised us by generously donating a dozen in-class and homework study books for each of the group members. Then, with the aid of a teacher’s manual (which she also let us keep) I went ahead with forming a tentative lesson plan. And at the last minute, Lillian Maysonet of Linkages to Learning at New Hampshire Estates Elem. School agreed to once again be kind enough to host our group in her private conference. Just like that we had the makings of our very own English class!!!

But wait. Something was missing. Of course it was great that since our last meeting Ray and I had made real strides in overcoming some of the basic obstacles to starting the class, but if along the way we aren’t intentionally creating opportunities for the members to take the lead on some key planning components, can we be sure that members truly feel ownership over the group and will be committed to it in the long run?

And so in the final minutes right before kicking off the meeting Ray and I decided to focus the meeting not on providing a preliminary English lesson. Instead, our main objective would be to better gauge exactly what the members wanted to get out of the group, where they saw it going, how they saw themselves being involved…etc.


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