By Emily C.
At the end of our second week of Bridge, the kids have shown so much improvement in both academic and social settings. Frankly, it has been awesome to see kids pushing themselves to do well in their classes as well as try new things during their free time.
In 8th grade Language Arts, students are still persevering through Othello, having just finished Act One. While Shakespeare is undoubtedly difficult, my students are becoming more comfortable with taking risks in their analyses, and it is so great to see the kids get excited when they have made their way through a tough passage. I have also heard from the 7th grade Language Arts TAs that the students in their class have begun to come out of their shells and speak up more in discussions, a big step up from Week One. In 8th grade Math, the kids are also doing well, grasping the concepts of functions fairly quickly using blocks to represent X and Y.
I have asked a lot of the students what their favorite part of the day is, and almost everyone has answered with their elective (a few kids enjoy Science class better, which is understandable). We introduced some of the students to claymation in Art, and it was a huge hit, so when it came time for the kids to start their final projects of interpretive self-portraits, three students decided to make claymation self-portraits. It was risky, but so far, those projects look really cool and incredibly creative.
Outside of the classroom, I was not prepared for the shifts in social structure that occurred this week. Throughout all of Week One, the kids stayed in well-defined friend groups for every snack and lunch period, divided strictly by grade level and gender. This week, however, the students showed me that they were more than willing to socialize with people that they did not know very well or have much in common with, revealing that the Bridge kids are becoming more comfortable with being outside of their comfort zones. Volleyball has emerged as the new co-ed, all-inclusive sport, and you are bound to see a large circle of all kinds of students playing it during every break. Even soccer, which used to be pretty segregated by gender, has shifted to be more inclusive as some of the 8th grade girls asked to join in this week. I am very proud of their courage to integrate themselves without any prompting from the TAs. I hope to see this kind of risk-taking continue in the rest of the program.