The Avodah Blog

Day In The Life: Avodah Service Corps Member Danny Brown

Danny demonstrates the spelling and grammar tool in Microsoft Word.

Every day, Avodah Service Corps Members work at antipoverty nonprofit organizations in cities across the United States, serving people in need, building skills for social change, and living together in a supportive community.

Danny Brown, a Colorado native, is spending his Avodah service year as a Digital Literacy Instructor for Byte Back, an adult education school in Washington, DC. Danny teaches computer courses on Microsoft Office – Excel, Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word, to help his students gain the skills needed for careers in administrative and secretarial positions.

Below is a minute-to-minute peek into a typical Monday workday in Danny’s life.

*Article reposted with permission from Byte Back.


By Danny Brown

Pre-Class #1: 12-1 p.m. 

Note: Although class starts at 1 p.m., I get there an hour early for review and to catch up students who were absent the day before.

11:40-11:48 a.m. – Set up in the room, begin reviewing lesson plan.

11:48 a.m.-12:11 p.m. – Have my check-in phone call with my supervisor (Ellen Bredt, training manager) and catch up on stuff from last week – she was on vacation. Most of our call has to do with figuring out logistics for next week. I will miss class on Monday, Nov. 27 for an Avodah program, and so we need to coordinate everything involving substitute teachers for both of my classes.

12 p.m. – Students begin arriving. For now, it’s just students who want to use the computers for personal business.

12:11-12:30 p.m. – Finish reviewing lesson plan, students keep filing in.

12:30-1 p.m. – Help students review and catch up. We learned formulas in Excel last class, one of the harder concepts. I re-explain a concept, or show them how to do something again. I give students instructions for which activity to work on before class gets going and check back to make sure they got it all down.

Class #1: 1-4 p.m. at Skyland Workforce Center

1-1:15 p.m. – Students do the Byte Back Typing Tutorial for the first 15 minutes of every class, as typing is a skill that can always be improved. This also gives students a chance to come in if they are running a few minutes late. While students file in, I mark their attendance on an Excel sheet I keep. Tomorrow I will go into our data tracking program and insert their attendance for Byte Back records.

1:05 p.m. – A person who was in the computer lab before class asks me what the class is about. I tell them what classes we offer and give them a business card.

1:15-2:25 p.m. – Class. The way that Office Track classes work is each student gets a Byte Back flash drive with files for in-class activities as well as independent practice. We are working on an in-class activity today, so the students have the same file open as me and follow along, repeating my steps as I do them. They can see my screen on the projector.

Today’s lesson is on charts in Excel. I begin by explaining what charts are and why we use them. I then show students how to insert various charts, and they follow along with me. Then we circle back, and I explain how charts are a visual representation of the data. I finish my instruction by showing some ways you can edit charts. Then I have students re-do the practice document for their own memory and understanding. I walk around to make sure everyone has the material down.

2:25-2:40 p.m. – Break. While at break, I give one student a few pages which he lost from the student workbook. I also give a different student her referral form to buy a refurbished computer at a discounted price. It’s from a computer recycling nonprofit that we partner with, Project Reboot.

2:40-2:50 p.m. – Announcements. I usually do them at the beginning of class, but I had to wait to hear back from my supervisor about the substitute instructor situation, so I waited this time. The announcements consist of: following up from last week’s class when a Career Services team member came in to talk about careers and resumes (more on that in a bit), as well as some notes to our class schedule they should be aware of, including the date of the Excel exam. I also fill in the students on my upcoming absence and the substitute instructor.

2:50-4 p.m. – I show one more function in Excel: number formatting. The rest of class is practice exercises. I tell the students which exercises to work on, and I walk around helping individuals as they need it, checking to make sure everyone got it all down.

Danny teaching Office Track from 6-9 p.m. class at Byte Back.

Travel to my next class: 4-5 p.m.

4-5 p.m. – Travel to the Byte Back office. Check out this awesome video of our new office building!

Pre-class #2: 5 -6 p.m.

Note: My second Office Track class started one week later, so other than the timing it’s the same class as before, just a different location with different students.

5:10 p.m. – Put my bags down in the classroom. Again, I let students come an hour early for review and make-up (I’m a bit late today). There are already two students here – they are study buddies and were studying before class and came early.

5:20 p.m. – One student who was absent the day before comes to catch up. I sit with him and help him through the lesson. He’s more advanced so he gets most of it on his own.

5:35 p.m. – Another student comes to take the Microsoft Word test that he recently missed.

5:35-6 p.m. – Walk back and forth between helping the student catch up, clarifying any questions from the Word test, and helping other students review. Students continue to file in.

Class #2: 6-9 p.m., Byte Back Headquarters

6-6:15 p.m. – Typing practice. I mark student attendance in my Excel sheet as they file in.

6:15-7:15 p.m. – It’s career day. Bock Szymkowicz, career development coordinator, comes in and gives a presentation on different ways to conceptualize career development, as well as different resources students can use. The last bit of his presentation is making sure everyone has a resume so he can provide feedback to help them improve. A few people don’t have resumes, and so they make one with an online form Bock provides.

7:15-7:30 p.m.- Break. I chat with students in the kitchen area.

7:30-8 p.m. – Today, we’re learning how to freeze panes in Excel. It’s day three of Excel. Students watch me and follow along on their computers. I go over once more to explain. I have students try on their own, walking around and making sure they all get it.

Class is a constant dialogue. When students need me to say a sentence over, they tell me. When they are completely lost, they tell me (that doesn’t happen too often). Questions are more than welcome in class!

8-9 p.m. – We review Excel cursors, as well as sorting and filtering. Those were our first two days of Excel, and I want to make sure everyone has those skills down pat.

9-9:05 p.m. – I chat with students as I pack up. I leave the office.

It’s a full day! The best part of it all is knowing that I advanced more than 20 students’ learning. And so I go home, and prepare to start again the next day.

Learn more about our partners at Byte Back.

Want to read more Day in the Life stories from our Avodah Service Corps Members? Click here.


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