Partnering with Youth in Community Schools Nancy Erbstein and Renee Newton
How can you better engage students in learning? Here is the answer from students: Start by including us in your planning conversations, knowing that we care just as much as you do about creating high schools that bring out the best in students and teachers. Invite our ideas and perspectives. Let us explore together where we agree and differ, what’s doable and what’s not. Make us part of the solution, not the problem. n n High School Students (Students as Allies Project) From What Kids Can Do/Met Life Foundation
How are people talking about youth-adult partnerships? § § § § Service learning Youth leadership Youth civic engagement Youth involvement and leadership in research, evaluation and planning Student voice Youth involvement in school improvement Youth organizing Youth empowerment
How are youth and adults working together? 1) Youth participate in governance § § § youth sit on school-linked services collaborative adults use language that youth can understand youth are introduced to materials and the agenda ahead of time adults who are running the meeting make sure youth have opportunities to speak youth run part of each meeting
How are youth and adults working together? 2) Youth lead and participate in research projects that determine areas of improvement and meet needs § § § Kennedy Middle School projects Students in Chicago, Houston, Oakland, Philadelphia, and St. Louis conducted research on their schools In each case, students are now working with school and district staff to act on their findings
How are youth and adults working together? 3) Youth participate and lead design for programs and delivery of services § Youth at an after school program in the northern Sierra surveyed their peers to figure out what kinds of activities to offer, presented their findings to the program coordinator, and worked with her to plan them.
How are youth and adults working together? 4) Youth lead and participate in program evaluations § Students from Everett Middle School designed and created a project to figure out why students weren’t using an after-school tutoring program. After the program implemented the team’s recommendations, student participation increased dramatically!
How are youth and adults working together? 5) Youth develop projects (in and out of class) that strengthen the community within and beyond the school n n n A diverse team of youth at Davis High School researched their peers’ perceptions of adult expectations of student academic performance and behavior Middle school students at South Tahoe Middle School worked in partnership with the U. S. Forest Service to conduct an in-depth study of a nearby watershed as part of their science curriculum Youth Together, a community-based non-profit, convened multi-racial cadres of student organizers that worked with their school-based adult allies to address underlying conditions that result in racial tensions and poor student outcomes
Some Key Ingredients of Effective Youth. Adult Partnerships The Right Adults n Great adult allies believe in young people, advocate for them, learn from them, and develop respectful and real relationships with them n Adults who know the local neighborhood and share young people's experience based on their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, language, and/or immigrant experience bring key insights to these partnerships Power Sharing n If youth have no decision making authority, it isn’t a partnership
Some Key Ingredients of Effective Youth. Adult Partnerships Time to develop real relationships n Real relationships (between youth and adults) take getting to know each other and building trust, and that takes time Activities focused on issues that really matter to youth n Youth want to pursue interests, see the connections between what they are learning and the real world, and make a difference Training and support n Young people rise to to challenge, but they don’t want to be set up to fail. Offer training in key skills
Some Key Ingredients of Effective Youth. Adult Partnerships Attention to the realities of young people § Meet in accessible places § Consider providing transportation, vouchers, or immediate reimbursement for costs § Schedule meetings that do not conflict with school and work § Make sure youth have the supplies and equipment they need, as well as space to meet, work, and store materials § Create a safe, youth-friendly space § Consider compensating youth - with pay or by other means - for their work; this can be the key to involving young people who need employment § Offer food -- it’s hard to focus when you’re hungry, and it can be a great draw!
The Ten Commandments for Having the Best Youth Program in the Universe 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. Thou must have a high and plentiful supply of great snacks Thou must have flexible hours All who choose to work at the program must have a great attitude and treat everyone with respect Thou shalt hire staff that reflect thy communities and experiences of youth thou serve Thy computers must connect to the internet Thou must provide enough supplies for thy participants Thou shalt reach out into the community to know thy neighbors Thou must have a clean and spacious environment, free of all rodents All thy participants must enjoy thy program and spread laughter throughout thy CBO Thou shalt involve thy youth in the evaluation of thy programs 2001 Youth IMPACT Team San Francisco, CA
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