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New year, new real-world learning program - two resolutions to consider

In school we love asking students to make goals - FAST goals, HARD goals, and every acronym in-between - and at ImBlaze, we're no different. But what about the goals for our program as a whole? As the sound of the New Year's bell fades, what are you aiming your sights on for the rest of this school year? Or perhaps a better question... have you set your eyes at all?

This year we’ve started running every program new to ImBlaze through a change management meeting. During the meeting we ask a series of questions about how their Real-World Learning program works at this exact moment - how are they currently tracking their partnerships, how do they currently monitor student experience? The hope is, by getting clear about what a program does right now, we'll be able to better suggest trainings, activities, and ways to implement ImBlaze smoothly. It's been a fun and fascinating process but one that has revealed an early pattern:

Almost no one has a plan for programmatic review.

Now, that doesn't mean the people at these programs aren't thinking about quality or growth at all. Everyone we talk to says they think about those topics. But thinking, without systems for programmatic review, might suggest the following: those of us doing this Real-World Learning work have an intrinsic belief that it is important - life changing even - but... we don’t know what to build towards.

Can you name any Real-World Learning goals for your students this semester? What about for your program? Going even deeper...What about for your local community? If you're searching, we urge you to consider adopting the following two resolutions, drawing closely from our Big Picture Learning roots:

Grow your network

Make a goal to increase your school's social capital network (the number of connections and opportunities you put in ImBlaze) by 20% in the next 6 months. If you have 100 opportunities in there now, shoot for finding 20 new ones. Sound laughable? Try this activity. Run it a few times and you'll find that... one new place per kid? It's easy.

Improve student experience

Work towards having students evaluate the relationships, relevance, and/or 'real-ness' (also known as rigor) of their school-supported Real World Learning Experiences at a 4 out of 5 (at least)!

As a reminder - this is how ImBlaze describes those categories

  • Real - how similar is the work I'm doing to the work that a person in this field does?

  • Relevance - to what degree does my experience feel connected to things I'm interested in and things I find important?

  • Relationships - how is my mentor impacting my life?

Unsure where to start to improve these measures? Use this linked activity to not only stimulate your student's brains, but get ideas for how ImBlaze can help you get there.

Imagine being able to say, 'we're hoping that by the end of the year, our students have experienced ___ and our program has grown to ___.' with real confidence and hope. Imagine being able to say to your friends, 'we're hoping that by virtue of our work, our community will experience..."

There is great value in work without goals, but there is also something powerful, grounding, and gravitational about them. They pull at our thoughts, even when we're not directly addressing them.

We know this work can be powerful, life-changing work.

Make a goal and let yourself be pulled towards making it so.


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