Youth Ambassadors (YA) offers a one-year, problem-based learning experience for high school juniors and seniors, introducing them to the profession of teaching while they serve as mentors to ninth-and tenth-grade students who are struggling with issues of absenteeism and tardiness that negatively affect learning.
The goal of the class is to develop knowledgeable, compassionate, and skilled mentors whose work will significantly improve student attendance and punctuality at Cleveland High School and increase the likelihood that students will consider a career in education.
Curriculum: Putting knowledge and compassion into action
Content (Knowledge/Civic Education): What reading and writing will we require?
Common Core Standards Motivational Framework RCW
Attendance policies and practices
Justice System (the courts)
Kohlberg’s Stages of Moral Development and Just Community Schools
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Attendance remedies (several differing approaches and their impact on attendance)
Ethics of the mentoring role and importance of confidentiality
Civil Rights Movement (a study in community organizing and action)
Attitudes/Beliefs: What attitudes/beliefs do we want to instill? How will we assess attitudinal change/learning?
Open and honest disposition
Willingness to learn and engage
Positive, optimistic attitude
Empathetic, compassionate attitude
Belief in the importance of collaboration (“None of us is as smart as all of us.”)
Belief in the interconnectedness of humankind (“No man is an island entire of itself . . . .”) Belief in self-efficacy (Confidence that we can be part of the solution; internal locus of control)
Behavior/Skills (Action and Engagement through Mentoring, Work Teams, Truancy Boards, etc.): What baseline assessment of skills do we want?
Open and honest behavior
Close Reading Skills: Use texts for knowledge acquisition and analytic skill-building Research Skills: Investigation design, data collection and analysis, and thesis creation
Collaborative Participation Skills: Creating agendas, conducting meetings
Small Group Discussion Skills: (e.g., elaborating and clarifying, supporting ideas with evidence, building on and/or challenging ideas, paraphrasing, and synthesizing.
Cultural Competency Skills (Appropriate behavior with diverse others)
Advocacy Skills (Effective written and oral presentations)
Recounting, Recording, and Reflecting Skills: Three R’s of Action Research
Natural Helpers, Compassionate Schools, CAST (UW School of Social Work), ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences), Link, WEB, RSVP, Karen Armstrong’s 12 Steps to Compassion, Fine’s Framing Dropouts; Karol Kinney’s Picture/Portrait of Sudents: Why I Stay in School?Compassionate Action Network.
Pedagogy: Learning as Inquiry
In what ways is attendance important to school success? Why are students really absent?
What happens in a mentoring relationship?
What should be done to improve attendance at Cleveland?
Theory of Action
Students will engage in participatory action research to analyze attendance and truancy issues and the broader teaching and learning context at Cleveland High School. Using the Youth Ambassadors approach to mentoring, students will engage with individual students who have high absenteeism. Using the Cleveland High School Motivational Framework (Relationship, Relevance, Rigor, Results) as an organizing lens, students will propose actions to significantly improve school attendance and enact those approved by the greater Cleveland community.
Inquiry #1: How can I best mentor student X?
Project: Mentoring Journal
Due Date: Submitted weekly to Class Steering Committee with copies available to CHS Principal and CHS Academic Dean; journals also used as the basis for periodic reports requested by CHS, Seattle School District, and other local, regional, or state organizations seeking information on efforts to reduce high school truancy.
Inquiry #2: What kinds of teaching help students engage? What should be done to reduce truancies and tardiness at Cleveland High School?
Project: Report to Cleveland Faculty
Due Date: End of First Quarter
Inquiry #3: How can we in the Youth Ambassadors class teach effective attendance lessons in advisory?
Project: Advisory Lesson Plans
Due Date: End of First Semester
Inquiry #4: How can Youth Ambassadors improve its practice?
Project: Report to Cleveland Administrative and Building Leadership Teams
Due Date: End of Third Quarter
Inquiry #5: How can Youth Ambassadors share its story beyond Cleveland High School?
Project: Book and Training Manual
Due Date: End of Second Semester