During the last 6 weeks, most everything we took for granted about what educating young people looks like has changed. One of the biggest advantages of using ImBlaze is that it makes no preconceptions about what an 'internship' is. What we believe is that every student has a fundamental right to powerful learning experiences, life changing mentors, and the skills and agency to direct themselves in this.
With that said, here are some ways you can adapt ImBlaze to support students towards those ends during this time.
The New 'Mentors' are Families and Parents
While students are, for the most part, isolated from access to worksites and the mentors that work there, the prevalence of unemployment and working at home creates new opportunities for powerful learning and life changing mentors: families themselves.
Consider contacting students and their families (here's an email template) to explore the possibility of sharing mutual, interest-driven learning experiences. If you have young people in your life, think about the interests and expertise you have. Your hobbies, past jobs, current skills, and random deep knowledge banks. Think about how those young people might, especially now, be excited to explore those interests and expertise with you. Here are some ways ImBlaze can help here:
Provide a minimal structure for the family member and student to get started. Once the topic + opportunity have been established, and the student paired to it, use the ImBlaze check-in feature to start every session with the student describing their goals for the day. Then consider creating additional custom questions to further support and structure the experience for new mentors.
Capture the learning. Students and families are often worried how the work now can be translated to students progress towards graduation. Reassure them by showing how you can capture -- and engage in as a teacher -- their learning through students reflections with the ImBlaze check out questions
Increase family and school relationships in a cool way. Most families are used to the school talking to them about their student in the context of the school itself. But what happens when school is invested in the relationship and learning between students and their families? Using the mentor feedback functionality (or your own video/email communications), cultivate exciting meetings between student, family member, and teacher where the teacher is the invested outsider, not the parent.
Student-Suggested Learning Opportunities: Capturing, Recording, and Supporting
At this point it's pretty clear that we need to shift to a more (or even more) student-driven approach -- but there can be real questions and hesitations from students about how this might fit into their current credit and graduation schemes. You can use ImBlaze as a reliable and dynamic tracking tool to allow students to suggest their own experiences, projects, and opportunities and follow along (or support) their learning. Here are some examples:
Encourage a student to suggest an 'Opportunity' on ImBlaze they want to tackle on their own. This might be taking a nature walk by themselves, or taking an online class and learning to code. Once the student suggests it, and you approve it, pair the student with the new opportunity.
Talk to the student about how they might use the ImBlaze attendance function to track, and share, their progress with you. If it's a nature walk, ask them what you should be looking forward to hearing about -- maybe they tell you they're going to report in their 'accomplishments' all the different plants they want to go back and identify later, or how their emotional state changed throughout the walk.
List yourself as the mentor. You'll receive daily emails, and with it, spots to share feedback organically.
New Times call for New Friends and New Apps
For many folks, getting the whole class together online is proving either unrealistic or impractical. But students are telling us, over and over, that what they miss most about school is their friends. As a mission driven non-profit, our biggest goal is always the outcome not the business. With that, we want to highlight an (unaffiliated) app that seems aligned with both our mission - to activate the power of students, schools, and communities - and this emergent need: Unrulr.
The app allows your students (and staff) to post and share about their learning experiences, while reflecting and gaining feedback from their peers, in a closed community. Within the reflection and feedback is an evaluation tool that isn't linked to grades, but instead to customize-able real-world standards. (In their demo video, basic carpentry categories include (a) measuring and (b) cutting among others).
While we aren't officially connected to Unrulr in any way, we wanted to use this space and time to highlight some of their cool innovation. Give them a look, I think you'll be excited.
Until next time - we hope you're finding deeper moments of connection, inspiration, and love.