by Matt Robinson
A shout to the Maine Commission for Community Service for the beautiful event it hosted April 17th to recognize this year’s recipients of the Governor’s Awards for Service and Volunteerism.
A good many THANK YOUs are in order to the recipients of as well as all associated with the Governor’s Service Awards. If I started to identify some, certainly I would mistakenly leave someone out. Better I refer you here, where you can visit several tabs to learn more.Two of the awards, one to a school district and one to an individual, were given to recognize accomplishments that are creating conditions that support service-learning in communities.
In my posts to this space I frequently focus on an aspect of service-learning practice. Today I’ll put a half-twist on that, and focus briefly on elements that create conditions that support service-learning in communities.
Disclaimer: A great deal has been written on this topic as well as topics closely related to supporting cultural change. As you probably guessed, this blog post is not going to go that deep. This is bona fide surface scratching. For more on this topic with examples see this post, from Michigan’s Learn and Serve Resource Blog.
At KIDS Consortium, we identify four elements that contribute to sustaining service-learning. Just a couple of notes: these elements work together; frequently, single strategies and actions support more than one element. Also, they work together differently in every community. Lastly, they constantly need to be tended because personnel changes, initiatives shift, external requirements change, etc.Professional Development: All staff and community members have ongoing opportunities to participate in a variety of quality professional development experiences about service-learning. Opportunities exist to understand service-learning, develop tools and strategies to implement service-learning projects, and reflect with others on the challenges and successes of implementing service-learning.
Strategy example: Establish a professional learning community of teachers implementing service-learning projects to support experienced practitioners as they hone their skills.
Curriculum, Instruction, Assessment: All students have multiple opportunities to implement high quality service-learning projects that develop strong civic, social and academic knowledge, skills and attitudes. Projects are embedded in, but not limited to, designated grade span curriculum, instruction and assessment requirements.
Strategy example: Bring appropriate stakeholders together to be part of a process to integrate service-learning within curriculum and instructional practice.
School< >Community Partnerships: Service-learning is used as a tool by both schools and communities to strengthen K-12 education and impact community needs. School< >Community partnerships are nurtured and sustained over time.
Strategy example: Ask students involved in service-learning to help provide training for community partners to help them to understand how and why students should be actively involved impacting authentic problems.
Leadership: A multi-faceted leadership effort exists to continually advocate for, support and evaluate service-learning practice to ensure its vibrancy and prosperity. Service-learning is embedded in strategic plans and initiatives. Explicit policies and practices encourage and support service-learning.
Strategy example: Include service-learning in hiring and/or performance evaluations for teachers, program leaders, and administrators.
So the surface is scratched! I’ve tried to be concise (really, I have) but I know that there is so much more to add to this topic. So I’ll ask you to add to it: What is your community doing to sustain service-learning? Add your examples to the comment box.