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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Paying it forward, with mentoring or mocha

By Joshua Kukowski

I had my first “pay it forward” experience at a coffee shop recently and I was confronted with a choice: should I continue the trend?   I had no scientific evidence that paying it forward to the next coffee drinker would be a good thing to do. I just knew.  I bought the next person a cup of coffee.

Mentoring is like that. There are now 15 years' worth of research proving that mentoring helps young people succeed.  But mentors do it because they just know.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Ask a beautiful question

By Anne Stevenson

“What’s the most powerful question you know?” Children ask hundreds of questions a day as soon as they can speak. But in grade school, questioning “drops off a cliff,” according to data from the 2009 U.S. Nations Report Card.

Why does this innate skill fall away as we move through school and into careers?

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What's the connection between social emotional learning and program quality?

By Margo Herman

The simplistic answer to the question is that a high-quality youth program provides an environment conducive to developing social and emotional skills.

Yet simplistic does not reflect the depth of the question. Researchers are immersed in defining the compatibility and the distinction in these two key areas of youth work practice. And practitioners naturally want to know more about how we will measure these outcomes and if measures for both SEL and program quality will be compatible.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Agriculture, science and real life

By Joshua Rice

“When am I ever going to use this in real life?” If you're an educator working with youth, you've probably heard this question, usually when they're faced with a complex equation, a problem-solving scenario, or are asked to read, remember, and recall information.

Agriculture educators have an advantage answering this question. They can simply reply, "Every day."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Are we doing enough for special needs youth?

By Darcy Cole

Schools work hard to serve special needs students, but can youth programs say that they do the same? In the public school system, formal individualized education plans (IEPs) outline the supports that will ensure the success of special students. But youth programs don’t have IEPs.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Ways of Being: A social and emotional learning model

kate-walker.jpgTo make sense of the emerging field of social and emotional learning (SEL), we developed a model we call Ways of Being. It paints a picture of the whole social and emotional learner, describing the attitudes, skills, and behaviors that exist within a person who is socially and emotionally competent.

The model describes dynamic, interactive ways of being that exist in three layers -- identity, awareness, and navigation and three dimensions -- ways of feeling, ways of relating to others, and ways of doing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Stories of refugee youth may be hiding in your program

Pamela-Nippolt.jpgIf you are working with youth, you are probably working youth whose families have sought refuge in the U.S. They may not tell you their stories, but you can learn more about the refugee experience -- and you should -- to create more effective learning spaces for them and for all young people in your program.

More than 50 million citizens across the globe were forcibly displaced from their homes in 2014, the highest number of refugees and internally displaced people since 1994. More than half of them were under the age of 18.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

How leaders develop trust

mark-haugen.jpgA leader needs to be trusted. Trust is an important element of the work I do with members of the community. But why should they trust me and the organization I represent?

I wish that everyone saw me as I see myself; someone who is worthy of their complete trust. Sadly, I'm not a perfect leader, and like all leaders, have been in situations where people don't trust me fully.

Not one of us is perfect. The truth is that in educational, non-profit and community settings there are people who don't know us or our programs, well enough for them to trust. As full time, part time, paid or volunteer leaders of programs we need to invest our time in developing and maintaining the trust of others.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Prominent misperceptions about social and emotional learning

Dale-Blyth.jpgA New York Times opinion piece published this week is titled, "Can we teach personality?" This is the wrong question in so many ways.

First, it's not about teaching personality but helping to equip youth with the skills they need in life - academic, social and emotional. These skills can be learned and should be -- not as a one size fits all or by forcing everyone into one mold. Rather, they should be taught as tools that can be used in navigating learning and life.

They also are, and need to be, taught by parents and expanded community learning opportunities. Like all skills important in life, we cannot and should not leave it to schools alone to help equip our young people.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The importance of readiness

Dale-Blyth.jpgWhat does it mean to be ready? According to the dictionary readiness means "the state of being fully prepared for something". As we approach each day or stage in our development are we in a state of readiness? Are we or the youth we work with ever "fully prepared" for what is going to happen? OK, maybe not fully prepared but at least prepared to take on the challenges ahead and make the most of the opportunities for learning in front of us. Prepared to try, fail, and try again.

We talk often these days about helping our children be ready for kindergarten or maybe ready for college. The Forum for Youth Investment talks about Ready by 21 - ready for work, college and life. But what does it really mean to be ready? And when we say ready do we mean ready in all the ways that matter - ready cognitively but also socially and emotionally?
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