Before I begin my lovefest for The 365give Challenge I would like to be upfront about my role both as a 365give member and volunteer. I am a teacher who has championed The 365give Challenge in her classroom, and I am a Board Member of 365give. I love The 365give Challenge so much that I took on the Board role as Director Of Education!
Why do I love this program so much? Watching happiness ripple through my classroom, school, and community and around the globe is what motivates me to continue the Challenge year after year. These are great benefits that resonate with me, my students and those who receive our daily gives. The transformation I see in students and their outlook on the world warms my heart.
But what I love most about the program is how it has helped shape the teacher I am today. The 365give Challenge has enabled me to take student learning outside the four walls of our classroom and provide authentic and meaningful experiences for the students as I meet my curriculum goals. That puts a skip in my teacher step!
We spent a lot of time designing the school program to ensure teachers could meet their requirements, implement the program seamlessly in their classroom, while also maintaining a fun learning environment for students. Not an easy task for sure, but I’m so proud that we have managed just that!
No #1 – Be Inspired – It’s Contagious!
Start with something you’re passionate about and your students will get excited too. It’s that simple! As teachers we often choose topics of personal interest in order to facilitate student learning in each subject area. The 365give Challenge is no different.
I absolutely love marine wildlife so when it comes time to discuss animal life cycles, I love to dive into the world of sea life with my students. Sadly, one cannot learn about ocean habitats without also learning about the grave state they are in. I use this situation to start healthy conversations around what we can do to help. Referencing great young students like Boyan Slat who developed a solution to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch (through one of his high school projects and the young age of 17) shows your students how young people can have a strong voice and can create real change in areas that even adults couldn’t agree upon!
No. #2 – Start Small and Watch Your Students’ Ideas Grow
Boyan Slat developed a big plan to clean up the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, but not all change needs a huge solution to be impactful. Starting with small gives is the key to the The 365give Challenge. As much as we would love to create projects that develop solutions in one sitting, that is overwhelming for both teachers and students. Small actions to help people, animals and the planet make a difference. Start with building awareness in your school community with posters in the hallways, going down to the local beach or park and doing a clean-up, or supporting charities that champion issues your students are connected to or feel inspired by.
No. #3 – Get Students Involved
Our students are the future change-makers we so desperately need in the world! As educators it is our job to help them develop the skills and attitudes necessary to create change in the world. Inspiration may come from the teacher, but action comes from your students. Encourage your students to jump right into The 365give Challenge!
One way I have encouraged all students to participate and share ideas is through a Classroom Giving Jar. I put a small notepad with pencils next to a large jar and encourage students to add their giving ideas as they think of them. Some days I use subject material to inspire specific giving ideas that relate to a theme, asking during the course of lesson for giving ideas (gives that help people, animals, and/or the environment). Other days I leave giving ideas wide open, amazed at what students come up with when they tap into their imagination. The beauty of The 365give Challenge is that it’s flexible and can be tailored to suit your needs. And students get into the habit of thinking up their daily gives in advance, so they can always draw from a pool of daily giving ideas.
Having a pool of daily gives makes it easy to complete one give every day. Setting the giving goals as a group is exciting, but the true fun begins when you act on those ideas each day. You can vote on the order your giving ideas are executed or you can randomly pull a give from the jar each day.
In my class we like to vote so all students are given a voice. Any ideas that aren’t chosen this time around are put back in the jar for another chance next time. Once the gives are decided upon, it’s time to work together to problem solve and come up with ways execute your daily give. This is my favourite part! Students are engaged and working collaboratively on a common goal. They are using and developing those all-important thinking, communication, and social skills without even realizing it! Since all students voted they are highly invested in these gives and are motivated to find ways to make them happen together. The students love getting out of the classroom into the school, the playground, the community, the parks and beaches, fire halls, police stations, and the community centres to make their giving goals a reality. The resulting pride and happiness we all feel when we have accomplished our give each day is what increases our personal and group happiness each and every day. It makes the next give even more exciting and inspiring.
Let’s face it, as teachers we have a lot on our plates. We don’t have time to do more or take more on, let alone change the world! Luckily we don’t have to. The 365give Challenge allows us to do it all and more, just in a different way. I know I am a better teacher for it and my students are more connected to their learning as we continue on our path to change ourselves, our classroom, our school and the world.
Are you up for the Challenge? Sign up for a free membership at 365give and get the tools you need to seamlessly integrate this program into your classroom.