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.
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.
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