Social & Emotional Learning (SEL)

Emotional Engagement in Education, Part Three: Take It to the Streets

February 1, 2008

This is the third post in a three-part entry. Read part one and part two.

How can you involve your students in community efforts to address a societal, medical, or environmental issue? All it takes is a phone call or an email message.

3. Connect your kids with your community: A young person who contributes to his or her community is less likely to behave in a way that hurts that community -- and apathy is a hurtful behavior.

Right now, municipal committee members in many of your communities are sitting in meetings and wondering, "How can we get the word out to folks about the West Nile virus and how important it is to empty standing water and trim back shrubs and tall grass?" What if you were to call them up and say, "My students and I were hoping we could help you work on an effort to educate the community about how to combat the spread of the West Nile virus. Would you be willing to come in and talk with us about how we might partner with you?"

Those planners would jump at the chance, and you'll have real, live community members asking your kids to help, telling them they have the power to save lives and expressing how much they are looking forward to working with them on the effort. Now you can say, "That persuasive-writing piece has to be done, because Ms. Jackson is coming in to see us next week, and she wants to read it before we send it to the Council of Churches," rather than stating, "It has to be done, because that is just when it is due."

So, there you have one idea about how to base a classroom project on an authentic concern. I know there are so many more. Please let us know what you are thinking and doing: Care enough to share what works for you in terms of increasing student engagement in learning. Thanks in advance -- your contribution will help us all.

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