Working with the WE organization has been such a rewarding and powerful experience. This organization impacts so many students and allows them to serve. Empowering these students to change their world is a huge motivator. It is service learning at its best!
As I think of WE, it reminds me of 21st Century Learning. One important tenant of 21st Century learning is real-world problem-solving. As teachers many times we miss this very important aspect to connect learners to the world around them. It provides the Why behind the learning. As a student, I recall asking this question so many times when working a difficult math problem. How am I going to use this in my future? We want teaching and learning that is relevant and valued by students for now and the future as well as see our students impacting change. This is where WE has so many relevant, real-world, service learning opportunities. Their curriculum is designed to help guide the students through the process of finding opportunities that they are passionate about. WE Schools provides resources for planning and getting involved that make it easy for the teacher (aka guide on the side) with a OneNote Notebook with everything you need to start.
Students gain so many benefits from planning the projects to the actual campaigns and service. Along with language, math, science, social studies students use 21st Century skills of communication and collaboration to accomplish their goals. Looking at recent studies with the Class of 2030, we know that socio-emotional learning improves student achievement and students are not feeling that their needs are being met in this area. Teachers have reported having difficulty with their commitments and standardized curricula to meet these needs. WE Schools curriculum provides many opportunities to connect and provide that support as they guide students in their campaigns for change.
2016–2017 Year in Review Report
- 84% of educators say they are better equipped to teach about social justice issues through service-based learning.
- 92% of students in WE Schools feel a greater sense of connection to their local community.
- 91% of students demonstrate increased leadership among their peers.
- 89% of students are more likely to stand up for others who are treated unfairly because of their race, religion, sexual orientation, etc.
WE empower teachers and students and then celebrates them so well. WE Day is a celebration of the students work getting to see and hear the positive messages from amazing, creative students in the area doing impactful projects as well as hearing from inspiring actors and singers. Gaten Matarazzo from Stranger Things talked about his condition of cleidocranial dysplasia and how he believes it got him the part on the Netflix series. Another star Millicent Simmonds talked about her role in the Quiet Place and how her disability has enabled her as an actor. It was an inspiring day and truly moves you to continue service learning.
Microsoft. (n.d.). The Class of 2030. Retrieved from The Class of 2030 and Life-Ready Learning: https://info.microsoft.com/ww-landing-McKinsey-Class-Of-2030-Whitepaper.html
WE.org. (n.d.). https://www.we.org/we-schools/. Retrieved from We.org/We Schools: https://www.we.org/we-schools/
Lisa Simmons is a professional learning specialist for NCCE.