the first week of the Service Learning project, conduct an in class
"debriefing" session to establish analyzing and processing
experience as a regular practice. The first Service Learning discussion
session will almost always be different from their expectations so
do a discussion session on this.
them write in their journal about what they expected and what occurred
and how the difference between these things could relate to what they
have studied in class. For
example, they may realized they’ve made faulty assumptions about what
the people they are serving would be like based solely on their own
experience. They may see differences that stem from class, race or
gender that they hadn’t expected or they may find that the goal they
want to achieve takes more skill and planning then they had initially
is perhaps the most exciting part of a Service Learning program for
here students can learn, in a very real direct way that is meaningful
to them that:
have solutions ,
have the skills to solve problems they encounter in the "real
the materials they study in class can help them to understand the
sources and possible solutions of these problems as well.
do a fairly complete session on this and to return to the discussion
and problem solving format every other week or so. There will also
be wonderful success stories as well. It
is useful to have students recount "one positive thing that happened
and one challenge I’d like to explore."
your group is ready for it, move them from solving problems to seeking
out and creating opportunities. If
they are not, just remind them that there is another step beyond problem
solving and "putting out fires" and that one day, they can
take that step as well.
you can, try to visit a few sites and see your students in action.
You will see your students in a totally new light. It
is not only the achievers and honors students who do well in this
program; one of the best things about it is how it calls forth unseen
strengths in seemingly average students. Students
who are very quiet in their college classrooms can captivate a whole
room of lively thirteen year olds. Creative,
imaginative and resourceful activities can come from the most literal
minded students. When students actively experience an alternative
to learned passivity, they can become more confident and empowered.