By: Mette Schwartz, Regional Impact Coach, Northeast Region
What does it mean to be a life-long learner?
Life-long learners are aware and curious, and have the ability to reflect on what they have learned. Life-long learners are not afraid to fail and face their fear of failure.
Our AmeriCorps members embody this by dedicating a year of their lives, bringing with them the belief that learning is always possible. and they model this belief for our students.
Our AmeriCorps members model this belief for our students in order to help them grow love of learning.
People like what they’re good at. The most effective way to encourage a love of learning in our students is to provide them with the skills, tools, and strategies to become competent learners. For students to identify themselves as learners, they must experience some degree of success with learning. Many of our students have struggled with learning and experienced only limited success.
AmeriCorps members build experiences of learning success for students by consistently maintaining high expectations. These high expectations are captured in three statements:
This is Important
You Can Do This
I Won’t Give Up on You
Although it may seem obvious, the primacy of the learning content is paramount. AmeriCorps members bring their passion for literacy, math and social-emotional learning to the classroom, and that passion is contagious. Students see a near-peer AmeriCorps member, with whom they have connected with place tremendous value on their learning, and this communicates the message that This is Important.
By building relationships of trust and confidence with students, AmeriCorps members assure students they won’t be asked to do something beyond their capabilities. That being said, AmeriCorps members actively and intentionally teach students to solve problems in multiple contexts, including situations in which they must challenge themselves. Instilling confidence in each student starts by meeting each student where they are. AmeriCorps members build on student strengths, not deficits, in order to set each student up for success, communicating You Can Do This.
Too often our students give up on themselves. We can’t and don’t let that happen. AmeriCorps members hold students accountable for their learning, and practice a “no opt out” strategy. Because they are working one on one or in small groups with students, AmeriCorps members can ensure that no student slips through the cracks. Through multiple checks for understanding, AmeriCorps members monitor students’ current learning, follow their growing understanding and ensure students have no chance to quit. Students get the message I Won’t Give Up on You.
As students begin to internalize these messages of high expectations, they learn their own effective effort is the key to their success in learning. Students begin to identify as learners and develop the confidence that allows them to take risks. They develop awareness and curiosity, and are not afraid to ask questions they may not be able to answer – yet!