Schools and YDS

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WHY do we have a motivation gap …

Many adolescent students do not feel motivated or engaged by learning. The reasons for these challenges are widely debated. However, practitioners, scholars, and policymakers all agree that if students are motivated to achieve and are adequately engaged in classroom learning, their chances of academic success are greatly enhanced

What would happen if we provided students supports and opportunities to take a greater leadership role in school climate activities? How might schools be more effective if students partnered with adults as co-contributors to classroom and school-wide goals ? What other skills could we foster in students through a new approach to youth engagement?

The Youth-Driven Spaces (YDS) coaching/training model supports school-based programs by providing structures and strategies for increased student voice. YDS has been implemented in schools through the creation of Student Advisory Councils, groups whose charge it is to help support positive school climate initiatives and activities. Through this process, schools support development of youth 21st Century skills (or “soft skills”) by providing opportunities for students to have a meaningful role within the school organization.

In a school-based YDS project from 2012-2015, students demonstrated statistically significant gains across several categories and items.  In each of the three annual cohorts statistically significant gains were reported in items including: students feeling connected to their student advisory group; feeling connected to adults in their advisory; and feeling that it was important to be involved in the advisory.

Integrating YDS into Teacher Education

In 2017 Neutral Zone launched a collaborative project with Eastern Michigan University (EMU) to transform teacher and youth work education. The goal is being achieved through dissemination of Neutral Zone’s Youth Driven space model and integrating it with EMU’s Place-Based Education (PBE) approach.  The project centers around a Fellows Program made up of EMU teacher preparation students. See an overview of the pilot year below: