Juntos, Learning and Teaching

Aug Escalera training 078_REV-2

By Felicia Medellin, NCLR Escalera Program Manager

On August 13–14 in Chicago, the NCLR Education team convened 22 Affiliates for training of the Escalera Program, a 15-month college- and career-readiness program for high school students.

The training focused on the program’s senior-year curriculum and began with asking the Affiliates to reflect on what they have learned thus far. One attendee said, “I appreciated having the opportunity to learn from my peers and hear about their struggles and successes with the program.” Attendees had fun selecting a song or movie title that reflected their experience with the program and sharing it with the group. They also had the chance to co-teach lessons with their peers, sharing teaching and developmental strategies to apply with their specific student populations. Another attendee said, “I most benefitted from the opportunity to develop lessons as a group and get immediate feedback.”

Research demonstrates that culturally-competent support services, such as those offered by NCLR Affiliates, can ensure that Latino students do well in their studies and are prepared for 21st century career success. NCLR will continue to support the Affiliates’ program implementation efforts through site visits, webinars, and other meetings. This initiative is a long-term commitment to ensure that Latino youth are prepared for academic and career success and have equal opportunities for economic advancement.

The senior-year curriculum tool kit consists of 41 lessons grouped in 13 module units. The lessons guide students through the process of applying for college, scholarships, and financial aid, while others focus on leadership skills, financial literacy, and practical job training. This skills development is a continuation from the junior/summer curriculum consisting of 52 lessons in 15 modules. Together, NCLR has created a robust curriculum to assist its Affiliate Network with changing the lives of more than 700 Latino high school seniors.

Preparing Our Students for 21st Century and College and Career Readiness Standards

By Janet Alvarez, Principal, Para Los Ninos Middle School
(Cross-posted from the National Institute for Latino School Leaders blog.)

GraduationI was recently asked what I think the most important aspect is to prepare our Latino students for the rigor of 21st Century Learning and College and Career Readiness Standards.  As I thought more, it isn’t the arts, literacy, science, technology, or math that we integrate into every content area. Rather, it is the inquiry and curiosity that we nurture, demonstrate and practice through our approach.

Our students are curious about the world around them, hungry for more information about why things work the way they do and how to make them work even better.  This curiosity is what ignites a thirst for learning in our students and energizes them to be innovative thinkers.

Typically, 21st Century and College and Career Readiness Skills, are referred to as; critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration. These skills are extremely important, and the structure and tools to practice them in school are crucial.

I would like to add two more “C’s” to that list: curiosity and confidence.

Curiosity is a student’s fundamental motivation for learning.  Without it, students would never wonder, never question, and never try again after failing.  Our students need to see curiosity in action through demonstration. They need the time, structure, and devices to guide their curiosity into inquiry, exploration and learning. They also need meaningful ways to reveal their innovations, challenges and thoughts along the way.

Building confidence in our students is one of the most powerful “C’s” of all.  Acknowledging student accomplishments privately, and in front of a group boosts their belief in their capabilities. Further, allowing students the opportunity to self-select their own activities will help them build their self-worth.

Encourage students, when they are performing a task or getting involved in an activity, to do better than they did before, NOT better than someone else!  And finally, express a positive attitude toward our students so they see that they are worth your time and attention.

How about you?  How are you encouraging 21st Century skills for our students?