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Professional Development

NAA publishes fresh, new content every week covering a wide variety of topics related to the field of aftershool. In addition, NAA offers a variety of opportunities for virtual professional development (PD) through meaningful content, conversations and connections. Click here to see full descriptions of virtual PD offerings.

Just Listen

If you're reading this, chances are you're an educator who has a deep level of concern for our young people and how they're thriving or—more important—how they may NOT be thriving these days. The statistics* and our firsthand experiences tell a sad story about our teens today.

• 30% reported feeling sad or hopeless
• 20% reported being bullied on school property, with 15% online
• 18% seriously considered suicide
• 19% reported having carried a weapon onto campus

*Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, of ninth to 12th graders.

We also probably agree that students, teachers, families, programs and communities are concerned for students' mental health. We continue to seek "proactive" solutions that can sustain meaningful behavior and culture change, rather than having to rely on issues-based curriculum—or, worse yet, "reactive" interventions after the fact, when it may be too late.

How can we, as a society and members of the education community, get ahead of student depression, social pressures to perform, violence and bullying, alcohol and drug abuse, and our broader societal discourse?

Well, we think it needs to start not just with a conversation, but with each and every adult's and student's commitment to listen. Just listen. With our ears, sure—but also with our eyes, hearts and minds.

It's getting all of us to listen that's one of the greatest challenges to us all.

Listen LLP and Every Monday Matters have joined forces to bring an innovative approach and program designed to get our youth and adults to actually listen. Then, once having listened, to find ways to engage and take action to help students help themselves and each other, and influence others to do the same. Listen is a learning solution that engages educators, families and communities with new strategies and tools for creating deep-seeded and sustainable impact on our youth's mental health through the power of:

• Hollywood-style film and storytelling that explores students' real-world mental and emotional health challenges.
• Experiential learning that builds on the film's characters and stories, and provides students ways to apply practical strategies to help themselves and each other.

In Listen's first two implementations, educators shared that this program has potential to be a campus culture game-changer and provides an important opportunity to get everyone focused and on the same page to effectively address students' mental health needs.

Students shared:

"I have noticed that ever since I have started the listen program my classmates and I have had a better attitude towards others. Personally I have tried harder to help others now that I know what they actually go through."

"The Listen program helped me in my everyday life. I am now more aware about actually 'listening' to people and I think about how other people feel and how they can react based on my actions. It has helped me treat people better and has helped me improve as a person."

"The Listen program helped me and my group members to open up about problems which we were not aware about."

We are encouraged by the many stories educators and students have shared with us and believe we may be on to something big here. But let's bring this back full circle. Even if you're not able to use this new program, we all can do more to remember: It starts with us. Us just listening.

When we listen, we help. When we listen, we show students they're important and that listening is empowering. When we all listen, we can move mountains for that one student or the many in need, and in turn, for all of us.


We're listening. Please contact us with your stories or inquiries about our new Listen program: edu@everymondaymatters.org

Click here to view a trailer of Listen, the feature film.

Written by Cindy McCann, Executive Director, Every Monday Matters, Inc.