Deepening Connections in Schools
What do students have to say about their experiences with The Source School?
“Before, I probably wasn’t very hopeful, I didn’t see any way that I could make be part of a change or be part of an impact in our school community. There wasn’t really anybody I felt I could talk to you that would like, listen to me, or would respect my ideas, I guess. So it’s very kind of like, well, this is the way it is, you just have to kind of get through it. And I feel like with this program being in place with me joining, I felt a lot more hopeful about the future of our school, and knowing how I can make a change and in what ways I can impact people. And then I have a voice in the school community has been great.”
Southern Maine High School student participant in Listen to ME.
Youth + Adult Collaborative Circles
This is our newest offering, created for those schools or groups who want to dip their toe into deeper, more satisfying relationships between youth and adults. Collaborative circles are designed to nurture deeper relationships between adults and youth in schools of all types. School staff, teachers, administrators, and volunteers can make the difference in a student’s life, the difference between a youth feeling they matter and feeling invisible. But how do you do that? How do adults cultivate the space for relationships to grow when the school day is so hectic? Collaborative circles bring a group of six to eight together for 60 to 90 minutes to get to know each other better through specially designed conversations and activities. Our trained facilitators provide the structure and content for participants to relax and enjoy the process of developing deeper connections that leave adults and youth alike feeling renewed. This is a great experience for student leadership teams, clubs, students in need of warmer holding, or even whole grades. Circles can be held during class time, after school, or in a retreat format.
Creating Cultures of Connection in Your Middle School Classroom
Youth mental health has been on a precipitous decline over the past few years, but there are ways for us to address the core issues of disconnection from within any classroom — from algebra to English to chemistry. Middle schoolers are at just that moment of beginning to make social habits that will last years to come. How they see themselves as social agents and how much they feel they matter to their community have deep impact on their health and wellbeing. And, if they can find joy and purpose in your classroom, this experience can be a protective factor against the adverse childhood events (ACEs) so many young people experience. We come to your classroom for three to twelve weeks to support your class’s deepened connection to themselves, each other, you, and the content you bring. Our model is to provide the structure and processes to respond to the needs of your particular class and to support your ongoing learning so this experience can be carried forward and new cultures maintained and deepened sustainably.
Listen to ME: Youth Leading Change in Schools
Students who feel seen, heard, and understood are more likely to stay in school. Youth who contribute meaningfully to their school community feel they matter. Schools that work collaboratively with high school youth set their students on a path to productive civic engagement. Communities that value each member’s perspectives and wellbeing are places where youth want to stay and invest themselves.
Listen to ME provides the support schools, districts, and communities need to grow together. High school student leaders engage in participatory action research to learn through leading small focus group conversations what their peers are experiencing at school and what matters most to them, lasting a month, a semester, or a school year. We collaborate with school leaders to ensure solid preparation for project success — from inception to analysis to action steps for adult-youth collaborative response to the learnings. Local Voices Network provides artificial intelligence (AI) analysis of conversation data and project support, connecting high school students with research scientists at the Center for Constructive Communication at MIT.
Strategic Listening + Planning
We work with school boards and district leaders to create deeper community connections to — and investments in — their schools. Creating a strategic plan that prioritizes those connections begins with listening. We offer comprehensive focus group research that leads to an inclusive, equitable, and informed strategic planning process, and when desired, we lead teams through the planning process itself. Educators, parents, community members, employers, and youth are included in small recorded, in-person or virtual focus groups lasting 75 to 90 minutes. We have found that Zoom can be the perfect focus group setting. Participants can join from their own homes or offices, where they feel most comfortable and able to share openly, and no one needs to give up extra time in their busy schedules, meaning more of your community members will participate. We can also come to your community and gather participants in person. Our conversation protocol and trained facilitators offer participants the opportunity to connect with each other in new ways, share their stories, and consider the future of your community and the role school has in creating that future — with no need for them to give up a day or you to organize a large group full day weekend event. We analyze the conversations with the help of the greater community using artificial intelligence-aided technology created at MIT’s Center for Constructive Communication. And high school youth can play an integral role, working with us to define research questions, facilitate focus groups, guide analysis, and present findings. The outcome is more than a plan; it is a shared understanding of history and context, needs and dreams and how your schools can evolve to create the future your community envisions.
We have multiple school partners in currently process, but are looking for new partners to begin in Spring 2024.
Educator and School Leader Coaching
Making deeper connections between our intentions for ourselves and our professional work can lead to greater satisfaction in our work lives as well as more impactful classrooms. Building relationships through content and pedagogy can lead to more engaged students who feel a true human connection to their teachers; and for administrators, creating clear, socially hygenic, and supportive relationships with staff creates an atmosphere where all can thrive and best meet the emerging needs of students. With these in place, classrooms and schools can become transformative for adults and students alike. We support educators throughout Maine in both classroom and administrative roles, serving children and adults from infants through higher education.
We also offer coaching to building and teacher leaders who want to create leadership opportunities for youth in their schools. From initial thought partnership to planning and implementation phases, we can support you in your own transformation to an open and inclusive leader.