Professional Development

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Tips For Youth Engagement

Wednesday, 27 November 2013 00:00

Keeping kids engaged in this day and age is almost next to impossible when their minds are focused on the technology in front of them. For any teacher, it's always a battle to fight for kids' attention and keeping them involved and participating with the activity the rest of the class is doing. Here, we provide you with ten ways that you can keep kids in your program engaged and focused on whatever task is at-hand. 

  1. Keep the ME in Mind - Our young people live in a consumer driven world and when it comes down to youth programming, they are the consumers (and they’ll remind you of this often as they vote with their feet). Be specific about what they will gain for participation–is it a unique experience, credit, food, or other? 
  2. The axis of ACCESS - It’s a diverse and metropolitan world. How physically AND culturally accessible is your program? Go “Beyond The Heroes and Holidays” to make sure that your program looks, feels, and operates with an unprecedented level of inclusiveness from race and gender to faith, orientation, and ability! 
  3. Program with the ONE CLICK Result - Ever been on a website that won’t load up? How quick will you “click and move on”? It’s the same dynamic for youth engagement. If you want them to stick around, you’ve got to keep the program fast paced, rapidly kinetic, and using a roller coaster method of activity and content, going up and down to create a great ride of an experience that they’ll participate in. 
  4. Build out the SOCIAL BRAND - Trending. That’s the question. What is your organization “trending”. What’s the perceived experience that youth will get out of your program? Is your social brand one of archaic “same way every year” programming, or do you trend as active, exciting, hands-on, and totally innovative? 
  5. Message with MEDIA - Their earbuds are embedded into their skulls. Why? Because often the soundtrack of their lives can be found in today’s music. It’s the #1 cultural identifying tool of the Millennials–more than technology, fashion, etc. Listen and use the lyrics in your programming. Download movie clips from sources like wingclips.com to amplify your message. And by all means, remember–a dead room = dead audience. Always have music playing at the beginning! 
  6. FOLLOWUP Strategy - In the words of Karen Pittman, “Young people don’t grow up in programs, they grow up in communities." How do you stay connected to them when they are not onsite with you? Figure out how to use quick SMS tools like TXTSignal and make sure that you are constantly in touch before and after your meetings. 
  7. Raising The GAME - If you compared your youth programming to video gaming hierarchy, would you be Minecraft or Pong? Think of the completion stages of each video game, and the bonus prizes awarded at certain points. Build the program with stages of success in mind and celebrate each accomplishment. 
  8. BEYOND These Walls - Millennials are the most altruistic generation we have ever witnessed. From required service learning to an unbridled belief that they can change any and everything (as long as the WIFI is working). This is a generation that has given more hours of service at this age than any others before them. Build in service and community change that gets them out of your office and into their world. 
  9. Get MESSY - Youth work is not “neat”. It’s not “cute”. And it’s certainly not “easy”. Rather, it’s a dynamic wrangling of cats between you, the facilitator, and thirty plus rockstarz amped on digital caffeine. Play. Mess up. Roll your sleeves up and dive in. Use the epic fails as a teachable tool, and by all means, be real. 
  10. Engage the EXPERTS - No other demographic KNOWS young people, RELATES to young people, and can think like young people–other than youth themselves. Make sure that the program and work is designed and owned by them. We adults are partners in this process and have just as much to learn from these experts!

By: Leading to Change - Customized training, consulting, and facilitation services.

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