What Community Service Is…and is Not
- Service-Learning IS
- Service-Learning MUST
- Service-Learning IS NOT
- Components of High-Quality Service-Learning
- Developing a Plan for Systemic Integration and Expansion of SL in a School or District
Developing a Plan for the Systemic Integration and Expansion of SL in a School or District
The following are some strategies that have worked well in schools and systems where SL is thriving:
Have clear goals and action steps for systemic integration and expansion of SL throughout the school or district over time:
- Ensure that your teachers understand what SL is and how to implement curriculum-based projects. Set a goal for offering professional development to accomplish this;
- Set a goal for the number of teachers each year who will develop and implement curriculum-based SL projects;
- Each year, target different grade levels for SL integration, adding more grade levels each year until students have opportunities to participate in SL at each grade level K-12;
- Include SL in your School and District Improvement Plans.
Use SL to implement other reform or restructuring goals:
- SL can be used to implement more hands-on science and math at the middle school and high school;
- SL can be used to encourage middle grade teacher teams to implement interdisciplinary or integrated projects;
- SL can be linked with the School-to-Work initiative to expose young people to careers, adult responsibilities and skills needed in the work world;
- SL can be used to assist district in its implementation of the Curriculum Frameworks, identifying learning standards and creating SL projects to achieve them at different grade levels and within and across disciplines;
- SL can be integrated into alternative education programs, special education programs and English Language Learner programs;
- SL is an ideal method for use in extended blocks of learning time.
Offer ample professional development for teachers to understand how to develop and create curriculum-based SL:
- In-service workshops;
- After-school courses;
- Study groups;
- Action research;
- Combining SL training with other school or district-wide professional development opportunities (using SL as a process for developing student portfolios).
Offer incentives for teachers to develop and implement projects:
- Mini-grants for teachers to purchase supplies and materials for project-based, hands-on SL;
- Stipends or release time for teacher teams to develop new SL curricula after or during school hours;
- PDPs for training and curriculum development;
- Encourage teachers to take risks in the classroom;
Research the effectiveness of SL as an educational improvement strategy before and/or during the actual implementation or curricular projects:
- Send teacher teams to visit schools where SL is being implemented regularly, and to state-level conferences an workshops;
- Convene teacher study groups to examine the role SL can play in implementing the Curriculum Frameworks;
- Stipend teachers to implement SL with an Action Research component to study the impact of SL on student learning;
- Survey faculty within or across schools to find out who is already doing SL, or who is studying social/environmental issues already through the curriculum, or who wants to bring more applied, hands-on learning experiences into classroom. Target these teachers for initial implementation;
- Share findings from the research with administrators, faculty, parent groups and students;
- Create a library of resources for teachers on SL or the issues they may wish to study through SL.
Establish SL Leadership Teams at participating schools and/or a system-wide SL Advisory Team:
- Stipend team members to coordinate the SL initiative at the school or throughout the system and to manage the mini-grants process;
- Involve key-stakeholders (students, agency partners, teachers, and parents) in central decision-making roles.
Secure administrative support:
- Engage administrators in study groups;
- Point to the usefulness of SL as an Educational Reform strategy;
- Bring them to conferences or on site-visits;
- Highlight SL as an excellent public relations tool for a school.
Leverage other resources available in your communities to support SL:
- Perhaps the SPED director has a van you could use to transport students;
- Councils on Aging tend to have vans and may offer in-king transportation support for students;
- Parents are experts on so may things and could serve as valuable teacher resources;
- Local newspapers and cable access are always looking for stories.
Bring in community agency representatives to sit down with teachers and develop SL projects together:
- Ask agencies not only how students can help them, but also how they can strengthen student learning and address academic goals.
Document, disseminate and display SL projects and student learning:
- Have teachers briefly write up their projects as part of receiving a mini-grant. Create a project listing and disseminate it system wide;
- Host a year-end, school- or system-wide SL Showcase Day, where students and teachers present their projects and demonstrate what they are learning. Invite all faculty and community members to attend;
- Extend student learning beyond the school walls as much as possible. Let the community and faculties see the rigor and relevance of learning through SL.
Evaluate progress towards achieving your goals on the regular basis. Devote time at the SL Implementation Team or Advisory Team meetings to evaluate and reflect on progress.
Celebrate and reward accomplishments, impacts and the renewed sense of community:
- Create superintendent awards for exemplary service as part of graduation or awards ceremonies.