Endorsing Student Voice Through Virtual/Hybrid Activism: Overview (Inspire Citizens, Out of the Blocks, SEL)

This is an overview of our August 1st Summit with Inspire Citizens (Donna Guerin, Steve Sostak, Kavita Tanna), Out of the Blocks (Aaron Henkin, Wendel Patrick), and Evan Whitehead!


4 min read
Endorsing Student Voice Through Virtual/Hybrid Activism: Overview (Inspire Citizens, Out of the Blocks, SEL)

This is an overview of our August 1st Summit with Inspire Citizens (Donna Guerin, Steve Sostak, Kavita Tanna), Out of the Blocks (Aaron Henkin, Wendel Patrick), and Evan Whitehead!

Watch the full Summit here, or listen on our podcast.

Inspire Citizens is an innovative organization focusing on active, informed civics through social justice, sustainable development, collective well-being, SEL, and ethical media literacy. Out of the Blocks is an NPR program focused on capturing the sounds on the street of Baltimore, formed on the idea of interviewing every single person on a given block. And Evan Whitehead is a school leader and educator of over 20 years with a focus on social-emotional well-being.

Check out this podcast between Inspire Citizens and Out of the Blocks on how this work can involve students.

Further, this Padlet has a huge collection of ideas shared today.

Our Summit focused on endorsing student voice through activism in a hybrid/virtual setting. How can we help students become involved in their community when it's difficult or impossible to actually walk around the community? How can we use technology (e.g. podcasts, photography, interviews) to help connect others? How can we promote social justice when it's difficult to build interpersonal connections?

Inspire Citizens

Global Youth Media is Inspire Citizens' initiative to incorporate media literacy, civics awareness, and interconnected social justice through their communities. They offer many labs to help educators accomplish this task:

  • Out of the Blocks: Interviewing, Podcast, and Storytelling
  • Photo!bomb Street Photography: Storytelling, Ethics, Meaning, Poetry, and Sustainable Development
  • Debate 4 Impact: From Adversaries to Allies: Civil Discourse, Active Listening, and Presenting
  • Sound Waves: Field Recording
  • Culture Shock: Unpack Assumptions, Values, and Understandings that Drive People's Worldview and Behavior
  • Tiny Classroom Concerts: Intimate Portraits of Music and Musicians, and Recording Music from Home/the Classroom
  • Word Splash: Spoken Word and Drama
  • Play by Play: Documentary Film Making

You can learn more about incorporating the Global Youth Media labs (either at a teacher or school level) by inquiring on Inspire Citizens' website.

Further, Donna Guerin and Steve Sostak shared a framework for understanding and implementing SEL: SEE

Out of the Blocks

"When you share power, you gain power."

Out of the Blocks outlined their protocols for interviewing, talking about the importance of connecting with others on a human level by simply talking to them. We spoke about how students can take advantage of this: setting students up with phones/cameras/audio recording equipment, based on what they have, and sending them out into the community to connect.

How does this work with social distancing? We can send emails to community members or family members to ask them to send us recordings (with their phone) and analyze them, maybe a writing prompt or historical discourse. Or, as suggested by Linda Amici, setting an interviewee up on a moderated Flipgrid and letting students ask questions asynchronously to receive a video response later!

It's more important than ever that we allow students to interact with each other and with their community. Otherwise...these remote days are going to drag on, being rapidly boring, and will lack a meaningful "human experience." In addition to connecting with students in small groups and engaging in one on one dialogue, we can formulate projects that let students speak out and learn from their community!

Promoting Social/Emotional Wellbeing

"When we're thinking about student voice, we want to promote educators and think about what it means to be "well", especially with activism."

What happens when we place the world on students' shoulders?

Evan Whitehead shared a fantastic message: we don't often look out for ourselves. We give a lot before we give back to ourselves. Burnout is real, especially right now. He calls this principle the "3 B's":

Balance: Time, energy, and efforts into people and projects that will be reciprocal. Balance changes where we're at in our lives and in our professions, but we want to do what we're comfortable with. It's good to be 100% present but we must be mindful of how we're using our time and energy.

Boundaries: Given social civil unrest and social justice, what is it that we're willing to hold on to given our social boundaries? As educators we often to be everything to everyone, which leaves us spread too thin.

Breaks: We need to pause and live in the moment. Meditation, mindfulness, and understanding that we don't often "pause" enough. We can accept what we've done and accomplished.

Kavita Tanna added that we need to advocate for ourselves so we can be true advocates for our students. By modeling this behavior by being transparent with students and practicing these ideas ourselves. For example, being explicit about acknowledging everyone in our (virtual or real) rooms, how much we appreciated them, and talking about the great work we're doing together. We can focus on building a better future while still acknowledging elements of our past.

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