Sunday, January 6, 2008

Teaching to Give Back

Jen and Mad are having a Just Posts baby shower. They're calling on people to do some good (grammar much?).

Here's a snippet from Under the Mad Hat (I just call her Mad, as in short for a beautiful name, more than Mad like crazy. I digress):

The Just Posts will continue and we'll continue to host all of the terrific writings for social justice in all shapes and sizes. But we are adding a baby and her name is Volunteerism. It's time to put all of our words into action. Collectively, separately. We are committing to writing and doing in whatever form that means for each of us.And this is where all of you come in. A baby deserves a baby shower, and your gifts are your writings about what it will mean to give of your time, what extra steps you will take to give back to your community and to our world, and what commitments we can all hold each other accountable to and how we can cheer each other on as we go.

Isn't that exciting?

I wrote about my own feelings about volunteering my time. There just aren't enough hours in the day. Then Aliki wrote a great comment on Giving More about how she oversees her students' community service projects. Hey! Students! I've got students! I was suddenly inspired (Thanks Aliki).

I teach students with mild to moderate cognitive disabilities and several other categories of disabilities that make it necessary to teach curriculum that is not aligned with our district's general education. It used to be called "self-contained" special ed, but it really isn't. My students take other classes for their electives. I teach reading, English, science, social studies, math, and Work Introduction Network. I teach students in grades 9-12, so get to have kids for four years. The great thing is that I get to teach a lot of life skills and functional skills to the kids. For our Work Introduction Network class (we call it WIN), I get to pick units based on a general guideline, but can create new units. What better thing to teach high school kids than community service? Than the value of giving back? I am going to pool some resources from different online sources to teach these kids the value of volunteerism. Then we will choose a project to do as a group, or split into a few small groups to do a few projects. I AM EXCITED! This topic will be fun, hands-on, and will be something that my students can take home with them and hopefully will multiply.

I've read a lot on how giving back, volunteering, community service, raises a person's self-esteem. It makes people feel better about themselves and gives them something to be proud of. It is something that is often missing in the life of a person with a disability. Many people with more severe disabilities spend their lives being cared for, being served, and aren't given the chance to pay it forward. By giving people the opportunity to serve others, you help their own psyche, as well as provide community service to a local agency.

I haven't decided yet what sort of projects we will do. My plan is to have a list and let kids sign up for what interests them. If anyone has ideas for simple community service projects, I'll take them! It mostly needs to be something we can do on-site at school, but we could possibly do a one day trip if we need to.

I can't wait to read what others have planned in terms of community service. In terms of volunteerism. The whole topic is one that gets me very excited, if you couldn't tell. Time to roll up my sleeves and get out there! I plan to do updates as we get into the unit. This will be a 9 week thing, or maybe even for the rest of the school year. I've got a lot of planning to do.


Jenifer said...

Oh for goodness sake my lovely comment was gobbled up!

The clever parts I can remember are that this is a win-win (could not resist) project. The kids and the community will benefit greatly.

Maybe there is a nearby playground or garden at an elementary school or even a nursing home the kids could volunteer at...I am not that awake this morning so if I come up with more I will be back.

I think this is a great idea for a unit at school and I think you will get as much out of it as them. It allows you to not only teach good citizenship, but to be a part of it too.

Looking forward to the updates.

Beck said...

This is a WONDERFUL idea! I think your class will get SO much out of it, and bring so much to your community. I love it.

Aliki2006 said...

I just can't wait for the semester to get started this year so I can get moving on inspiring on the community/global services I have lined up...

And I can't wait to read more about how your projects will take shape!

nikkis30by30 said...

Ok, I have to say that I am bursting with pride for you!!! This is all a WONDERFUL idea!!! I am so so SO proud of you, and.... Jacque is too!!!

Let me know if you will need any adult help along the way. Someone to come out and help you help the kids. Does that make sense?? LOL!! I am more than happy to help out if the schedule permits (the hub's schedule, that is!!).


Mama said...

IDEAS- (borrowed, not original) put bikes/wagons/toys,etc together for WalMart/Shopko/Target, assemble kits for Missions (our church donates crayons, pencils, paper and these items are put in school bags to be sent overseas), have the school donate items for the military and your class could collect and box up to be sent, make centerpieces for nursing home dining tables, match older folks to your students and visit once a week /month and play bingo or checkers, do shopping during the winter for shut-ins, clean tables for "Eduction Night" at Runza?McDonalds (our teachers work one night and get 10% of the sales for our school)- just some ideas! It's not as big a deal as you'd think is it? You can give easily.

Mad Hatter said...

This is such a fantastic idea. I will look forward to your progress reports.

NotSoSage said...

Beautiful. Really.

Teachers can give their students so much more than lessons in their particular topic. They can have a life-long impact on them. This kind of project will, I am certain of it. I look forward to reading about it.

thirtysomething said...

I will be following this closely, and also be thinking on what I may be able to do. Very inspiring. And your work sounds truly phenomenal. You make a big difference and have a huge impact. A special job for sure.

jen said...

OM! this is awesome. i am so glad you've found something that will work for you and I cannot wait to hear how it goes.

Mimi said...

What a fantastic idea! Well done! And you sound so excited about it I'm sure you'll really enjoy it.

Michelle said...

I can't wait to hear more about how the project goes with your students!