For United for Youth to reach our shared vision, the staff and volunteers of our partnering schools and organizations, as well as parents and other members of the community, must continually deepen our knowledge and skills.
Shared Learning Strategy
- Up-to-date map of current learning needs and existing learning opportunities (in progress, fall 2019)
- Systems for expanding knowledge of and access to high-quality learning opportunities.
- Shared learning opportunities designed to fill identified gaps and move the work forward. This includes, but is not limited to, a particular learning focus area, identified approximately yearly as a network. (For 2019-20, this focus area is student and family voice and leadership.)
- Systems for evaluating and enhancing the quality of existing learning opportunities available to network members.
Principles of Shared Learning:
What does good learning look like in a network of people, schools, and organizations?
We've established these guiding principles of shared learning to inform ongoing efforts to improve the quality, depth, and availability of powerful learning opportunities for network members:
- Adults--like all people--can experience deep and significant learning. We hold adult learners to as high standards for their ongoing development as we hold youth learners (if not higher).
- Cross-sector participation strengthens learning. When possible, learning opportunities should be open to all United for Youth partners for whom the training would be relevant (including staff and volunteers of other schools and organizations, as well as families and students)--not just people from the school/organization hosting the training.
- “Reinventing the wheel” is wasteful of limited resources. There is already a substantial amount of high-quality learning taking place in our community. Network members partner to partake in similar learning experiences, as opposed to expending time, money, and energy to independently design and implement separate similar training. We identify great learning experiences and work together to increase access.
- Learning opportunities should be responsive to community priorities and the priorities of targeted participants. Our strategies are informed by Community Assets and Needs Assessments, school-based resource teams, and network-level workgroups. Learning opportunities are designed to enable the success of the strategies that emerge from this process.
- Sustained learning is more effective than “one-and-done” learning. Learning is deeper and more lasting when sustained over time (via ongoing sessions, follow-up coaching, peer collaboration, etc.). Unless there is a clear and valid reason not to, learning experiences should be designed to last beyond a single day.
- Active learning is more effective than passive learning.“Sit and get” time should be minimized and never be the full extent of a learning experience.
- Reflection is essential. Having opportunities to think about and discuss the connections between the content and one’s own experiences and ideas is essential to effective learning. This can take many forms including personal journaling or writing; group conversation; feedback or coaching from peers and mentors; etc.
- Learning is most effective when learners opt-in. Having the opportunity to choose what knowledge and skills to focus on enhances learning. People are trusted to know what learning is most relevant and what ways of learning are most suited to their needs.
- Most of what we need to learn can and should be learned locally. When possible, learning opportunities are designed and implemented locally, with and for people from our community.
- Our culture of shared learning is continuously co-constructed. We are a network of learners and learning guides. Our success depends on ongoing personal and organizational learning. This is the responsibility of all United for Youth members and should be happening all the time in all kinds of different ways (formal courses, informal conversations, shared learning resources, virtual/in-person, etc.)
Shared Professional Learning Workgroup