In the classroom, the program is student-driven, teacher-facilitated. At first, students experience ice-breakers and then set classroom rules and consequences – taking ownership of their learning. Likewise , they also decide who covers individual chapter content for the “group discussion” days. On group discussion days, students lead a conversation about a topic of their choosing related to the chapter content. The group discussions prompt self-reflection and communication skills, as well as teamwork, empathy and self-confidence. During discussions, the room will typically be set up in a circle format so that students can make eye contact with each other and feel included (no more hiding in the back row). Student opinion is never demanded. It is always optional. But respect for fellow students is required at all times to build trust, compassion and collaboration.
On “teacher clarification” days, teachers review chapter content and answer any questions while validating all that was accomplished during the previous group discussion. On other days, teachers may choose to utilize the website or work on group projects related to the material. YSS is structured so that teachers can be flexible and students can help drive their learning experience.
Most often, the books are taught one book per year over the course of three consecutive years although some settings teach all three books in a year. “Research has consistently shown that programs that emphasize a one-time presentation focused on raising awareness rarely produce behavioral change.” (www.mentoring.org) This is why YSS continually reinforces self awareness, emotional management, confidence and self-skills over a more prolonged period (a year to three years). Long lasting change is not achieved in a one time lecture so often found in schools to meet a state mandate. It is only achieved through consistent supportive and reliable information with which a teen engages.
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