Building Positive Learning CulturesThrough Adventure
Project Adventure Partners with Lawrence Family Education Development Fund to Create Strong Community at SISU Education Center LAWRENCE, Mass., January 30, 2018 Since 1971, Project Adventure (PA) has been providing quality curriculum and professional development that yields tremendous results for student and faculty learning. We do this by embedding the core competencies of social and emotional learning into each of our activities. As we move forward, we are afforded more opportunities to share that learning with school-wide programs, like the work we continue to do with Lawrence Family Development, Inc. The Lawrence Family Education Development Fund (LFDEF) offers a variety of alternative youth programs for Lawrence area young people ages 16-24 all housed under their new SISU Education Center. At SISU, they are offered a positive youth development approach creating a welcoming and supportive environment for young people most of whom struggle with a mentality of feeling and being told they are “not good enough.” The programs are developed and delivered in collaboration with YouthBuild, the City of Lawrence, and area funding organizations. Two years ago, the LFDEF staff believed that their teachers and counselors could be equipped with more effective group facilitation pedagogy and skills that would more deeply engage and motivate their audiences in learning. They also wanted to build a strong culture and shared mission and understanding, so they engaged in a partnership with PA. Some of their goals were to introduce all staff to PA methods with a primary emphasis on community building, to advance their mindsets from being just a teacher to having a role in advancing the broader alternative youth program vision, and to build community and agree upon norms. The work done by Larry Childs and Laura MacDonald was guided by these goals and questions like, “How do our current norms merge to create a truly safe place where all youth can feel safe, inspired, and know they belong?” With their goals in mind, the staff celebrated ways of working together through adventure activities, and as all teams do, they came up against some behaviors that created obstacles to their vision of SISU. Experiencing these obstacles made their learning tangible and allowed them the space to work through the areas where they struggled. They used everyday objects to represent their work such as safety glasses to symbolize the value of having a vision as an organization and as individuals. The SISU staff continues to practice using adventure methodology, guiding reflective learning and exploring ways to develop social and emotional skills like self-management, responsible decision-making, conflict resolution, and positive risk-taking in the context of Challenge by Choice. Adventure levels the playing field for everyone and creates a necessary space to evaluate the way things were, the way things are, and the way things could be. Contact us to see how implementing school-wide programs can transform the culture of your learning community.