Collab Lab 19: Recap & Notes

Collab Lab 19Our April Collab Lab focused on the opportunities we can create for students by engaging partners in the neighborhoods which surround a school.  The goal was to explore how we might: engage students in real-world projects with organizations, businesses, and community members in the neighborhoods which surround a school; leverage then enthusiasm and energy of students working on problems they care about; foster relationships that allow for sustainable engagement over the long term.

We led attendees through a process that started by listing the kinds of things we hoped students would gain though community engagement.  We then pulled a couple of volunteers to sort through and categorize the ideas attendees had captured on Post-it notes.  That gave us the following broad areas:

Towards a Better World

  • A broader sense of what is possible
  • Exposure to something bigger than themselves
  • Passion for social justice
  • An appreciation for society’s complexity
  • Augmented horizon of how to imagine the future

Self Worth

  • A sense of pride of ownership
  • Confidence in themselves
  • A sense of belonging
  • Enable kids to feel like members of the community
  • Deeper self-awareness
  • Empathy
  • Empower kids to speak their voice

Skills

  • Access to people/institutions/jobs that need their skills
  • Exposure to job opportunities and skills
  • Practical skills
  • Transferable skills

Assets/Broadened Perspectives

  • Acceptance of people different from themselves
  • Broad understanding of neighborhood assets
  • Help break down racial divisions
  • Awareness of the ASSETS of their communities, not just the deficits
  • Awareness of what’s outside of their school/neighborhood
  • Broader perspectives of the world around them

Relationships

  • Role models
  • Connections to their city & community
  • Mentors
  • Help kids help others of all backgrounds
  • Seeing corporations and professionals who care
  • Recreation activity connections
  • Connections to mentors/role models
  • Comfort with community leaders, stakeholders
  • Students gain trust that agencies really have their bests interests at heart
  • A sense of community
  • Students can feel connected to their school/community
  • Finding a mentor outside the building
  • A sense of commitment to the community
  • Broader cultural awareness
  • Connect to local community-based resources for them & their family (financial education, home ownership, arts, food assistance, play)
  • Students gain confidence that adults across agencies want to work together, collaborate more than compete
  • Relationships with people who work in the community

Authentic Learning

  • Students can feel worthy of doing quality work
  • Quality tutoring
  • Time for activities they are passionate about
  • Authentic transfer of educational outcomes/real-world application of learning
  • Exposure to high interest books
  • Employment
  • Work Experience
  • Confidence to access civic processes
  • A new challenge that requires determination
  • Real world application of learning
  • Projects with a purpose beyond a grade
  • Access opportunity (jobs, resources, etc.)
  • Connections to local businesses & corporations (career modeling, job shadow, potential mentors, part-time jobs)
  • Creative problem solving skills

We identified three areas to dig into a bit deeper– Relationships, Authentic Learning, and Self Worth. Attendees split into groups to explore what a program that could provide these gains might look like.  Here’s what they came up with:

Relationships

North/South Travelling Classroom

The project envisions that school student councils at multiple schools would lead a march that takes students across both sides of I-94 ending in a barbecue/potluck in the Menomonee valley.

Goals:

  • Break down silos
  • Build relationships
  • inter-generational teaching

Timing:

  • Fall semester– study/understand the neighborhoods
  • January to June– (student led) planning for event

Potential partners:

  • Artists Working in Education
  • Adam Carr
  • Reggie Jackson
  • Story Corps
  • ExFabula

Authentic Learning

Student Led High Interest Fair

  • Open-ended, cross-curricular. student-driven assignment
  • All students
  • Goals:
    • Students will identify their own role/responsibility
    • Students network/indetify community participants
    • Students create their own content
    • Students share content w/audience
  • Takes place at school or community center in the evening
  • Partners:
    • Industry experts
    • Community members (invited by students)

Self Worth

  • Authentic learning experiential mentors
  • Re-orientation to community engaged learning
  • Two way experiences
    • Participation “youth experts”
    • Opportunities to (authentically) lead with adults
    • Students see results (even when it is long term)
    • Community based, e.g. park, garden, sport, youth council, school bank, server meals, seniors
    • Problem solving– “How would you…?”
  • Beyond Service Projects
    • Long-term engagement/commitment by adults
    • Demonstrate how their participation impacts projects
  • Reinforcement
    • Positive phone calls
    • 1st day high fives
    • Children’s saving accounts

Assumptions

  • Occurs through school (as a conduit) because school may be one of the more stable institutions in students’ lives (school can be the catalyst)
  • Any age– schools & organizations that are willing
  • Need vehicle to match project ideas with partners

Thanks again to DevCodeCamp for providing the space, and to our featured participants for the experience and insight they brought to the discussion:

Dr. Dan Bergen – Executive Director, Marquette Office of Community Engagement

Fr. Bill Johnson, SJ – Vice President of Strategic Growth, Cristo Rey Jesuit Milwaukee

Thomas Kiely – Director of Institute for Catholic Leadership, Marquette University

Katie Sparks – Director of Development, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee