A Life Altering Experience: Transformational Learning that Impacts the Whole Classroom

Working as a Youth Connection Charter School (YCCS) Civic Engagement (CE) campus leader for the past three years has made a significant impact on both my personal life and professional practice as a teacher. In my experience, being involved in civic engagement has forced me to challenge the way I view institutions, systems of government, misconceptions, stereotypes, discriminatory practices, and other societal ills. As a teacher, civic engagement has helped me to shape a learning environment for students that encourages a sense of community, trust, and openness. Providing a safe space for students to explore and discuss the issues they care most about has helped to build a level of connectedness among the students, and has influenced transformative learning experiences.

The growth that I have witnessed in students has been a combination of developing and the further development of knowledge, skills, values, and motivation to make a difference. In the most recent civic engagement challenge, students were able to demonstrate these skills by creating dialogue to change the narrative about the misconception of intra-communal violence being only an issue of “black on black crime”.

My students created a new narrative by shedding light on the root causes of “Black on Black” crime, and its direct correlation to poverty. They were able to research and explore poverty in depth and learned that it is systematically made up of politics, economics, and discrimination that is intergenerational.

Also, students were able to forge new relationships with organizations in the North Lawndale community that are directly working to combat the issue of poverty, and reduce violence.

Participating in the civic engagement initiative has ultimately lead to a shift in mindset and behavioral changes that were life altering for us all!

Audrey Haywood
CCA CE Campus Leader