By MARTHA RICH
Martha Rich recently retired after twenty years as Head of School at Thetford Academy in Vermont. Thetford Academy is public-private school and has been designated a National Service-Learning Leader School. Martha has served as a faculty member of Community Works Institute (CWI) and has also been deeply involved in the national movement around professional learning communities. In this article Martha responds to our request to share her school’s experiences working with CWI’s Best Practices for Service-Learning. More information on these practices can be found at www.communityworksinstitute.org
“You can’t mandate what matters.” This pronouncement heads the list of Michael Fullan’s lessons for reform in The New Meaning of School Change. I first read Fullan’s work years ago, when I was a fledgling administrator seeking advice on the change process: How does it happen? What should I do to move it along? Most important, how could positive changes be sustained? Fullan’s research offered a set of “lessons” for people like me, though most of his statements looked more like paradox than prescription. If you really “can’t mandate what matters,” how should a school leader proceed? Continue reading
Posted in Curriculum Development, Service-Learning, Uncategorized
Tagged community engagement, community works institute, curriculum, curriculum development, environmental education, professional development, project based learning, service learning, small schools, sustainability, teaching
By PAULA COHEN
Paula Cohen is a veteran 2nd grade teacher in Los Angeles Unified School District.
Most of my teaching career, I have defied the book. I’ve strived to put learning in context, connect students to issues in the community and make learning as relevant a process as I can. Meanwhile I work hard at helping students reach mastery and upholding the great standards. I signed a contract after all. It is always a great juggling act and way more work than following the “book” or program. The accomplishments do feel great, but there is always this sense that there wasn’t enough time or fluidity in the project. It could have been so much more if it didn’t have to have such a premature ending. Ever experienced that gnawing sensation?
Then I discovered that I can do a whole lot more on my own time outside of the classroom. It is the perfect storm for affecting change without all the restraints the classroom poses. Being a teacher offers access to youth, plenty of unmet needs, and an instant community to plug into. The only thing the contract greatly lacks is time. So limited and restrictive is the little time we have with our students. That’s when I discovered the benefit to offering my own surplus. Continue reading
Posted in Service-Learning, Teaching
Tagged community engagement, community works institute, curriculum, curriculum development, environmental education, mindfulness, place based education, professional development, project based learning, school gardens, service learning, sustainability, teaching
By CARRIE WILLIAMS HOWE
Carrie Williams Howe, MEd is the Interim Director of the Office of Community-University Partnerships and Service-Learning (CUPS) at the University of Vermont. She works primarily with faculty and students in academic service-learning and community-based research. A member of the National and Vermont Campus Compact Consultant Corps, Carrie also has experience leading international service-learning programs for students and teachers.
It has happened more times than I can count…I’m talking about the possibilities of service-learning with a faculty member; we’re discussing the value of hands-on experience, the possibilities for translating academic concepts to real-world application, the possible partners in our community and then…we come to reflection. Body language changes; instead of leaning in eager and excited, colleagues, or students in my class, lean back and squirm. We’ve hit uncharted territory; preconceptions that surround the word “reflection” are tainting the conversation.
Reflection activities “provide the bridge between community service activities and the educational content of a course…direct the students’ attention to new interpretations of events…and provide a means through which the community service can be studied and interpreted” (Bringle & Hatcher, 1999). It is perhaps one of the most examined and written about aspects of service-learning pedagogy. And yet, it is also one of the most misunderstood aspects of this learning approach.
In my work with faculty members and students over the last six years, I have noticed that the preconceptions that surround reflection cloud our discussions. Instead of waxing creatively about ways to elicit critical thinking (as I used to perhaps unfairly expect), their minds are whirling with pitfalls, assumptions, and pessimism. Eventually, I recognized that my words were wasted if I didn’t first attempt to dispel their doubts. So I have begun to tackle the concept of reflection by starting with the assumptions, “nipping them in the bud” before turning to the creation of activities. As a result, I find that the conversation that follows is more freely embraced. Continue reading
By CLAUDIA M. REDER, Ph.D.
California State University at Channel Islands
Claudia M. Reder , Ph.D. teaches at California State University at Channel Islands. She is the author of My Father & Miro and Other Poems. Her interests include storytelling, poetry, and encouraging creativity in the prospective educators she teaches. A poet in the schools for twenty years, she brings her experiences into her university classes.
Today I am excited
Because I meet new College people
Looking forward to Having fun
–child from The Poetry Project
The poetry service-learning project began with the question: What would happen if prospective teachers, who were mostly unfamiliar with poetry, created poems with children? Would these students accept the possibility that poetry can be a journey of discovery? Could the experience of helping children make poems enable students to become teachers who are not fearful of poetry, who enjoy incorporating poetry into their classrooms?
Students often need help with risk-taking. They want to know what is “right” and “what the teacher wants in order to do well.” In this poetry service-learning project, students were taught how to discover and use their own resources and creativity. They learned how to be flexible, to respond to children who were reluctant readers and writers, and to collaborate with each other in poetry writing. The aim was not to write a “correct” poem, but to ignite the creativity in themselves and the children. Poetry expresses the essence of an experience or feeling or idea and therefore is an excellent medium to help children articulate what is most important to them. Continue reading