What is it? True empowerment is the belief that people, and more specifically our youth, have the ability to implement positive change in their own lives and the lives of others, and contribute to something larger than themselves.

How do we foster empowerment? By creating a safe and supportive environment that facilitates students' being aware of consequences to make responsible decisions, enhance their skills and abilities, and widen their interests in order for them to act on their own behalf. The key to empowering students begins with the lens through which we view the students that we teach. If we see our students as unique, resourceful, intelligent, imaginative, and able, we become more willing to promote student-centered learning by providing opportunities to use their gifts, talents, and abilities, and develop their voices that will allow them to flourish today and in the future.

Top 10 Tips to Empower Youth:

1. Incorporate SEL into the curriculum in all subjects and levels of instruction.

2. It may seem too simple to be true, but ask them what they need! After the blank stares and the "I don't knows" subside, they begin to recognize that they do have a voice and that it is valued. It is also important to teach them how to appropriately express thoughts, opinions, and feelings in a manner that is respectful of themselves and others.

3. Focus on engaging and facilitating discussions and activities as opposed to directing and dictating them.

4. Provide opportunities to incorporate student choice into lessons, based on their interests, to promote discovery, critical thinking, and a true sense of being supported.

5. Give groups of three the responsibility and ownership of introducing new topics. Ask students to share what they know about a new topic before teaching it. Rotate the groups regularly.

6. Encourage and reward "being" in addition to "doing." Help youth focus on who they are on the inside.

7. Create projects that use varied gifts, talents, abilities, and perspectives to contribute to the whole.

8. Model an environment of respect (for others' thoughts, opinions, and values) and one that is fun and enthusiastic.

9. Get low. When a student is struggling with their work, physically position yourself at eye level as opposed to standing over them.

10. Don't be afraid to ask hard questions or admit that you don't know. Allow students' needs to outweigh our fears.

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"All kids need is a little help, a little hope, and someone who believes in them."
–Magic Johnson

The Shift from Engaging Students to Empowering Learners
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School-Wide Empowerment Ideas

60-Second Strategy: Participation Cards
Developing Agency With Student-Led Conferences

Important Dates This Month

Teacher Resources

Teaching Strategies that Create Empowered Learners

5 Ways to Empower Students

Giving Students a Voice in the Classroom

“Students see education as something that
they kind of have to get through.
What we need to do in education is show them
that their lives and their education are closer to
synonyms than antonyms.”
– Anne Krolicki, teacher

Teacher Appreciation Week 2019: Teacher Empowerment
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