I encourage my students' civic voice by empowering them to speak.

I empower my students to speak through teaching them active listening, professionalism, and self-advocacy. #CivicVoices

Photo of Hanna Sweatt
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As a school counselor in a Title I school, I have to be creative with how I educate my students about life and learning. One of my main goals is for my students to leave middle school with a packed toolkit full of useful resources and techniques they can use for a lifetime. One of these tools includes how to be a productive citizen, contributing hard work, passion, ideas, and sincerity in whatever situation they find themselves. 

When I look at the community surrounding my school, I am struck by how badly these people crave stability and security. Some of my students already know they probably can't attend college because they are the main providers for their family. It's my class's turn to break that mold. 

This year I began using the Naviance web system full-time with my students. Naviance provides college and career exploration tools to facilitate conversation and provide students with resources they need for their college and career plans. I looked at the information offered and decided that the best way to help my students grow into productive members of society who are confident in their voice and the power they hold would be to help them narrow down a career field of interest, engage in job shadowing, volunteering, and career planning, create a 6-part resume, and create academic, career, and personal/social SMART goals.

I teach classroom lessons on these topics and facilitate conversation about how they can use the tools in Naviance to help them achieve their goals and make a difference in their community. My favorite activity is helping them create resumes. We collaborate to find extracurricular activities in which they can engage, volunteer opportunities, professional organizations to shadow, etc. In addition, the class collaborates as a team to provide support when they share  with each other their career aspirations and how they plan to achieve those goals. Hopefully they recognize through my activities that their opinion matters, that their experiences matter, and that their ideas matter. For many of my students, they would be the first members of their families to apply for/attend college. Together we can work together to break the stereotype of our community. By using the skills and information attained via Naviance, my students learn what it would be like to speak up for what they want, need, and believe, and are empowered to raise their voices to ignite change.

I encourage my students' civic voice by empowering them to speak. #CivicVoiceshttps://t.co/F9iVlLMp4z

— Hanna Sweatt (@hannalee2163) September 8, 2016

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[Optional] Synthesize a little! What's one take away or insight to leave people with?

Never underestimate how confidence motivates students to act. If they feel empowered and encouraged, they will work harder to achieve their goals.

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Photo of Donna Teuber

Hi Hanna, I'm so glad that students have counselors like you to help them find their way in the world! Resources like Naviance are a great way to start discussions with students. Our Ideate phase starts soon so please jump in and add all your amazing ideas!