We have designed a rigorous application process for service-learning abroad to ensure that chosen students are vested in the entire Global to Local program, including travel in the summer, as well as project leadership during the school year. In making our selections, we will seek students who are civic-minded, team-oriented, and motivated. The application will include opportunities for students to discuss previous volunteer work and the impact those experiences have had on them as learners and community members. Through narrative responses, students will showcase their leadership skills, such as dedication, empathy, confidence, and adaptability, as well as their professional skills, including accountability and communication. Qualifying students will be reviewed by a selection board comprised of Excelsior and IBM staff and members representing our community partners. This rigorous application process will help us ensure the success of both the volunteer experience abroad and the Impact Projects the following year.
Student Documentation and Reflection
Whenever possible, student data in various forms will be used to inform decisions and measure progress. Throughout both the global volunteer experience and the Community Impact Projects, students will be required to reflect on their growth and learning through a variety of modes.
Students will be required to maintain a blog beginning when they are selected for the international service-learning trip. This will house their written reflections, photos, videos and other documentation. The blogs will allow other Excelsior students to follow their future project leaders throughout this journey. Once project leaders arrive home, the purpose of the site will shift, and it will become a resource as they utilize their newly acquired leadership skills. Members of each Excelsior Impact project will also chronicle all stages of their work online. While projects are in the planning stages, the websites will act as a recruitment tool for other students in the cohort, as they decide where their interests are. Once students have selected their projects, the websites will become a forum for all team members to reflect on their learning. This process will embed several professional skills, such as backwards planning, goal setting and evaluation, and regular progress monitoring.
Teachers will collect data from students using in-depth surveys. These surveys will be purposeful and offer an anonymous forum for students to celebrate successes, reflect on community impact, acknowledge areas of concern and think deeply about insights gained during all stages of the project. These surveys will be a small component of the continual and structured dialogue between mentors, students, teachers and community partners.
Students’ written reflections on blogs, completion of surveys, and continual dialogue with mentors, teachers, and community partners will be crucial sources for determining students’ growth and learning.