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What is Your Self Series (YSS)?

Your Self Series is a complete self development curriculum, consisting of three books (theSeries”)  and this website.  A solid sense of self is the critical component necessary for sound decision-making, a sense of purpose and life-long happiness. YSS is the only series that provides this focus.

Today, young teens are asked to navigate complex social pressures, emotional turbulence, expectations and hormonal changes while creating their academic foundation, yet we hardly supply them with the navigational tools to do so. YSS changes that.  YSS gives teens the confidence and skills to negotiate the many challenges they face while providing you, the teacher, with a complete curriculum for Advisory, Health or After School, that will help you to reach each student in your classroom.  Self education allows prosocial behavior to flourish and academic achievement to thrive, making your job in all of your subjects much easier.  YSS elevates the teaching in your classroom because it elevates the social skills, resilience, focus, emotional management  and motivation of all your students through a process of self-reflection and discovery.
Whether you choose the books alone, or weave website material into the curriculum, the YSS program meets both your students’ developmental needs and your needs for PBL, service learning, state mandates and CCSS.  Furthermore, YSS reaches and exceeds many personal and academic expectations, providing your students with courage and confidence to aim high, both in school and in life.

 “How?” you ask? 

Let us walk you through the process…

What topics are covered?

YSS consists of three books that explore the different influences and factors that create a sense of self:

Book One: Discover Your Self covers how various INTERNAL influences interact to form one’s sense of self.  Chapters include: Your Brain, Your Emotions, Your Psyche, Your Morals, Your Body and Your Mind/Body Connection. Book Two: Manage Your Self examines the EXTERNAL influences on a teen’s life. Chapters include: Your Social World, Your Family, Your Friends, Your Media World, Your Cu.R.E.S. (culture, race, ethnicity and spirituality), and Your Past Experiences. Book Three: Express Your Self explores how teens express their unique sense of self to the world and the impact that expression will have  on themselves & the world.  Chapters include: Your Personality; Your Communication; Your Love, Friendships & Relationships; Your Work: Paid and Volunteer; Your Other Outlets of Expression and Your Decisions.

Your Self Series is a comprehensive education about the self  that supports CCSS, 21st century skills and many state mandates.  It provides almost everything you need to help your students be the best they can be.  How can it do so much?  Through the unique student-led, teacher-facilitated process and through the website, which supports the chapter topics with more in-depth and comprehensive material on a wide range of complementary subjects.  For instance, “bullying” is discussed in Book Two: Manage Yourself, but it is also covered on the website with a broader range of activities, related topics (resilience, gossip, cyber bullying etc) and links that support a fuller exploration. Please take some time to browse the topics on the teen side of this website: you will find a wide range of content to suit your needs (such as nutrition, body image, dreams, drugs & alcohol, basic hygiene, stress reduction… yes, the list is extensive and we keep adding material, so let’s just move on….).

What makes YSS extraordinary in content?

Besides its exclusive focus on the development of the self, the foundation upon which the curriculum was built sets it apart…

First, we collaborated with teens to write the Series. We listened to their needs, wants and concerns for 3 years to construct almost every aspect of the Series.  Second, we encourage them to own their learning: from the very first page, students are asked to write in the books to make them their own – the unique front cover is made to flip back so that students can design their own cover. Students will also write their personal answers to the 100’s of different self-reflective questions right in the books. Third, teens lament about the “boring” set up of other textbooks so we printed the books in full color with the text broken down into small manageable sections so that nothing appears visually overwhelming or too content-heavy, while the tone of the material is conversational (no lectures! no preaching! no psycho babble!).

Furthermore, we interspersed interesting “Did you know?” facts throughout the material to keep teens engaged.  That engagement is furthered by our mini “soap opera” that runs throughout the Series featuring our four characters.  The characters not only provide “drama” for the reader but they provide a vicarious learning experience for more difficult or emotionally charged material to be appropriately digested. Most important, the content taps into their natural narcissistic stage of identity development by asking them to reflect on how the topic at hand resonates with who they are. For example, throughout the chapters, “Pit Stops” ask self-reflective questions prompting students to engage with the material on a personal level; encouraging them to imagine,  What are my opinions and feelings on this? How will it impact my life? What would I do in this scenario?   Please check out the sample chapters on this site to view both the visual and conversational style of the Series.

What Makes YSS Extraordinary in Practice?

Through the YSS™ approach, students own their learning.

 YSS™ is a student-led, teacher-facilitated process that inspires students to become active participants in their learning. Research has consistently shown that students retain far more knowledge, enjoy themselves more and find more meaning in their work when they are engaged in the process.

Before the YSS™ course content begins, students create group rules and use icebreakers to create a safe learning environment. They then sign up to lead chapter discussions. (For example, Andre and Margo may lead the class in a discussion on the chapter, Your Morals, by asking the class to debate a moral dilemma or, perhaps, discuss a challenging moral issue one of them is facing.) Each student in the group is encouraged to add to the discussion. Through these discussions, important life skills such as social skills, empathy, impulse control, communication and collaboration, to name a few, are enhanced.

In addition, YSS™ has a myriad of projects and activities for each book chapter in order for students to experience the material: students are asked to take the course information and both do something and become someone with it (What does this information mean to me?  Who am I in relation to this material?). Furthermore, each topic on the Teen Side of the website has corresponding Lesson Plans on the Educator’s Side of the site, offering seven different avenues of learning including PBL, service learning and visual learning opportunities.

 YSS™ is an experiential student-driven process enhanced by self-reflective activities and project-based learning.

How will YSS help my teens?

YSS strives to help your students/teens thrive academically, emotionally, socially and cognitively. We believe that academics is just one important part of student success: they must also have emotional skills, decision-making skills, social skills, resilience, passion, and so forth, to be successful in life.  At the heart of our philosophy is that we must reach and support students in all of these areas.

What is academic success if our students are too stressed to “deal”?
What are great SAT scores if our teens feel they are unworthy?
What good does an AP class do if a student is so depressed that she takes drugs to block out her feelings?

Life is not just about good grades and great test scores.  It is about enjoyment, finding connections and making solid decisions that help you to reach your desires. YSS allows students to build self skills so that they are successful in all areas of their lives.  They will learn how to manage their emotions, monitor their thought processes, develop their morals, understand their culture, analyze the media, handle peer pressure, communicate effectively, listen intently and, most important, make sound decisions that reflect to the world who they choose to be.

No matter whether you choose to use YSS or not, we ask that you take a moment to reflect on what your goals are for your students. Is it solely academic success or is it life success?  If it is the latter,  please read how we can help you help your students…

How will YSS help me as an educator?

Teens these days have a lot on their plates and that means so do you.  Not only do you have academic material that you need to teach to meet guidelines and standards, you have to teach that material to teens who can be distracted, unmotivated, disruptive and even spaced out.  We know.  The research confirms what teachers tell us: teens are struggling (and so are teachers) under the many pressures of today’s academic (social, media, home) environment(s). With mounting social issues, schools today are charged with providing more than academic instruction. To that end, YSS helps you by:
1. Developing healthy self-concepts within your students so they feel more courageous, confident and open to making connections with other people (a key indicator of graduation rates and one solution to that spacing out issue).
2. Reaching your teens on issues that matter to them – not only are the book topics driven by student input, the website material provides in depth coverage of important and timely topics in a manner that resonates with modern youth culture (helping with that motivation issue).
3. Supporting emotional awareness and management in your students – key (key!!) components to cognitive success.
4. Building social skills so that students can work collaboratively and creatively.  The less inhibited they are by social concerns, the more likely they are to engage in material, offer new ideas and stay focused (solving that distraction issue).
5. Providing free online professional development, articles of interest, troubleshooting tips, newsletters, and our conference itinerary (so we may have the pleasure of meeting you).
We could list many more ways in which YSS supports you as an educator, but since we’re about to list a few more in the next section, we’ll let you ponder these few for now….