GROWTH that gives..........

 

Since the beginning, Green Revolution (GR) has been an environmental leadership platform focused on increasing environmental stewardship and building STEM skills. But under new leadership, GR utilizes the environment as the vehicle to travel towards the kind of whole-child development that aligns with the extensive Out of School Time research done by the Harvard Family Research Project and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. A whole child approach, which ensures that each student is healthy, safe, engaged, supported, and challenged, provides for long-term student success (http://www.wholechildeducation.org).

 

How? And can this paradigm shift be introduced at the onset of this new year?

 

University of North Texas Environmental doctoral student, science educator, and the first Green Revolution Fellow, Jared Williams thinks it can. He was the keynote speaker at the inaugural GROWTHfest celebration where GR introduced its lecture series called GROWTH Talks. In his speech, Williams spoke on the development of the whole student through the following GR values - Grit, Responsibility, Outdoors, Well-Being, Teamwork, Hope and contended that “these values will certainly make Agents of Change stronger individually and collectively, while also increasing the program participants’ ability to positively impact their respective communities.”

 

About 40 students from all over the metroplex attended the program, where Williams described GR’s long-term effort to engender, “GROWTH that gives,” by challenging Agents to “find learning in every experience, and GROWTH in every opportunity, then re-plant those seeds in the community.” For what is the power of a seed? Growing self to grow community.

 

Agents were inundated with opportunities to grapple with their own ideas of growth through best practiced literacy strategies. They wrote reflections about open-ended questions like, “What is GROWTH?” and “Why is GROWTH important?” One Agent wrote, that GROWTH means "grow[ing] in all aspects of life" and spoke to the importance of "keeping hold of the [new] GR values." Another Agent proposed that "GROWTH [is] not just a question for the day, but a question [for] the present and foreseeable future.” Themes of self-growth, the internalization of the GROWTH value system, and the importance of helping community pervaded in the Agents’ reflections as indicated from responses such as “growth is changing in a good way;” “GROWTH values are something to keep;” and “GR Values [can help] to make the world better and to teach others what we learn.”

 

They also participated in a backchannel, real-time online, conversation during the lectures where Agents text messaged salient soundbites of GROWTH for everyone to read on the screen; thinking and learning is evidenced by these Agent generated one liners: “a better tomorrow together;” “[GROWTH] is about giving back to the community;” “Not about getting prizes, but giving;” “GROWTH is knowledge, knowledge is power, we are power.” Agents remarked that GROWTH is “in our soul,” and “beyond.” What’s more, Agent responses indicate (1) high receptivity and excitement to the GROWTH culture and (2) that the GROWTH value system is both relevant and a step in a meaningful direction.

 

GROWTHfest is the first, in a long line of initiatives, aimed at developing the whole-child and building GROWTH mindsets. Rooted in the seminal work of Dr. Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford and Co-Founder of MindSet Works, Williams says “this measureable approach has been shown to improve student success in the classroom and beyond.”