Youth Advocating for Club Choice

Name: Nadia K. Selby

Organization: Citizen Schools (Urban Assembly Unison School)

Date: September 6, 2018

SEL Competency: Self-Advocacy

Driver of Focus: Elevating Youth Voice, Explicit SEL Instruction

Cohort Demographics: 6th-8th Grade

OVERVIEW

Citizen Schools students apply to participate in various extracurricular activities throughout the year, and the rigorous selection process requires students to justify and advocate for their top choices. Applications improved over the year, as did students’ Self-Advocacy responses on the SSN SEL survey.

KEY DETAILS

LENGTH

  • Year-Long Process
  • 1-2 hours of disseminating selection forms
  • Designated time for of decision  making (staff)
  • Designated time for discussion with students

SETTING

  • Classroom/office
  • 120+ students (15 per club)

ACTIVITY

1-2 staff per club. 1-2 staff for selection process. 1 staff for sorting process.

  1. Staff poll students to identify club preferences
  2. Display all options to all students
  3. Ask students to identify top 4 club choices
  4. Give a lesson explicitly based on advocacy
  5. Hand out selection forms, listing top 4 choices and filling out back of form with reasons for top 2 choices, based on Self-advocacy lesson
  6. Collect forms, and place students in number 1 or 2 clubs, according to rubric.
  7. Have conversations with students, making sure they know why they are in club
  8. Give opportunity for students to discuss with staff if displeased with placement, referring to form

REASONING

Club selection process can be hectic, and middle school students may make decisions depending on what their peers do. These forms and lessons promote self-advocacy, and encourage decision making based on their own interest. Lessons detail specific sentence starters that students can use as tools, and the forms (and conversations that accompany them) provide a structure that students can understand and see as fair.

HOW DO YOU KNOW YOUR PRACTICE WORKED?

Based on Network-Wide SEL Survey Analysis, Citizen Schools at Urban Assembly Unison was identified by Research Alliance for NYC Schools as one of 18 Bright Spots; meaning they had a greater positive effect on youth SEL compared to sites that serve similar students across the Network. The chart shows the change in the percentage of youth responding positively to Survey questions related to Self-Advocacy.

NECESSARY TOOLS

  • Explicit Self-Advocacy Lesson Plan, with definitions for High, Medium and Low specifications
  • Club Selection Forms
  • Club descriptions for students

TIPS FOR IMPLEMENTATION

  • Design time sorting process
  • If students don’t get first choice, make sure they know to come in and talk about it with staff; if they meet, ensure that they get their first choice next application process.
  • Provide feedback on student selection forms if possible
  • Keep Selection forms for students to refer back to

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Find a printable version of this practice here. If you have questions or thoughts about this practice, comment below.

Related Posts:

Stefano Barros
stefano@ssn-nyc.org

Stefano believes that one of the best ways to develop young leaders is through community building in youth-centered spaces. This is the driving force behind his focus on strengthening SSN’s reservoir of resources through collaborative learning and research. Stefano joined the team after holding college access and youth leadership development roles in Boston and New York City.

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