Student Service Learning versus Community Service
Student Service Learning (SSL) is a teaching method that combines meaningful service to the community with curriculum-based learning. SSL includes phases of preparation, action, and reflection. Two of the best practices in service learning recognized in the state of Maryland are that the student achieves curricular objectives and the student reflects throughout the experience. With volunteerism or community service there are no established academic guidelines, the planning and preparation phase may not be as complex, and school documentation is not required.
Research suggests that youth who engage in volunteering and other positive activities are more likely to be successful at school and to avoid risky behaviors, such as drug and alcohol use, crime, and promiscuity. Youth are most likely to volunteer because they are asked–and when they are asked. Meaningful civic engagement helps students develop workforce ethics and leadership skills. The Teen Toolbox recognizes the potential of all youth to make meaningful contributions in their communities.
Global Youth Service Day
If you’ve ever met me in person, read my blog, or follow me on social media you know that I am a HUGE proponent of volunteerism. I believe whole heartedly that civic engagement builds character, leadership, and confidence in youth. The right service opportunity can help youth develop compassion, responsibility, and critical thinking skills. I know firsthand that meaningful community service can also assist in career exploration as youth develop marketable skills.
Although we’re only in the second month of the New Year, there have been three opportunities to engage youth in volunteering and community service that I find significant. The first was the Youth Service America Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 16, 2012. We were encouraged serve our community and use the national holiday as a “day on not a day off”. I wrote a blog about it at http://theteentoolbox.com/how-will-your-youth-serve/) Second is the GOOD 30-Day Challenge: Become A GOOD Citizen which began on February 1, 2012. GOOD celebrates the diverse ways, both large and small, that we can give back to our community. Each day we are invited to perform a different task that will help us along the road of becoming a good citizen all year long. (You can read more at http://www.good.is/post/the-good-30-day-challenge-become-a-good-citizen/ ) February 13-19, 2012 was celebrated as Random Acts of Kindness Week. There is no mistaking the purpose of this week – show unexpected kindness to others. (You can read more at http://www.randomactsofkindness.org/RAK-Week/ ) I love and see the value in each of them!
In our work world, evidence-based practice and evidence-based research are King. Objectives, outcomes, and goals are commonplace. In my supervisory role I stress that we have to have proof that we are doing really works. I am a huge proponent of civic engagement and so as I was thinking about the upcoming Dr. Martin Luther King Day and the Youth Service America kick off a semester of service I decided to go a bit further and hit the internet to provide you with documentation that supports what I’ve seen in my experience and know in my heart is an effective aspect of youth development.