Engaging young people can sometimes feel like pulling teeth. Trust between adults and students doesn’t just happen, it takes intention, openness, and patience. Like most of us, students respond to kindness, repeated interest, empathy and compassion. Finding students’ sparks, their passions that they find deeply motivating, and building a relationship with them based on those sparks, has been proven to be effective.
Sparks are what get a young person to look up from their hand-held devices, jump out of bed in the morning, and feel connected to and inspired by the world around them. When students know and act upon their sparks, and have adults that support them, they often do better in school, develop important life skills, and feel more positive about the future.
Here are some downloadable activities to make your student’s sparks fly:
Creating an open, student-centered environment in a classroom or program takes time and often structured activities, but the payoffs can be life-changing. Below are some useful tools and strategies to support student engagement.
The relational culture of an organization plays an essential role in ensuring that all young people, regardless of background or circumstances, have the nurturing, support, and guidance they need to learn, grow, and thrive.
A relationship-rich space, in school or after-school programs, is one that invests in support structures and teacher training to create an intentional and inclusive relational climate. It is the baseline, overarching environment that helps students find their sparks. With this type of learning environment, students will be more open to engaging in developmental relationship-building, sparks-finding, and sparks-developing activities — and will be more likely to succeed academically and into the future.