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Not Your Same Old, Same Old Professional Development

Last night I launched an event I’m currently calling “Film & Video Screenings for Youth Development Professionals.” The goal of this event is to provide a unique professional development experience using films, videos and other media to spark discussions among youth workers, educators, community activists and others about topics that are of interest and/or related to our work.

The inaugural film was “We Could Be King.” It’s about two public schools in Philadelphia and how they over come a years-long rivalry to become one school and one football team in the midst of many school closings across Philadelphia two years ago.

The basic format for this PD offering is:

1. Frame the film/media in the context of Positive Youth Development. I provided this brief summary of Positive Youth Development: PYD is an age-appropriate, strengths-based strategy we use to help youth meet their basic moral, social, cognitive, emotional and physical developmental needs. To do this we use: Positive Relationships; Clear, Fair & High Expectations; and Opportunities for youth to Connect, Navigate & be Productive. These things are considered protective factors that help build resiliency and young people’s ability to bounce back when faced with adversity.

2. Encourage participants to seek out examples of PYD in the film/Medial. I encouraged people to look for evidence or examples of PYD while they watched the film, and I also provided 3-5 index cards at each table with some questions/prompts for them to consider while they watched (I will provide those for you below).

3. Show the film/media. I held the event at a local coffee shop, which provided a great vibe for the screening. People could grab a bite to eat and it felt less formal than in a traditional or typical professional development experience. Though the venue was informal, the evening was purposefully planned.

4. Discuss & Debrief. After the film, people were encouraged to turn to a partner or small group and talk about their reactions to the film and to discuss evidence of PYD. I also went around the room with additional index cards with more prompts to help spark conversation and make it easier for people to talk with a stranger. After 10 minutes of people chatting in groups, we opened the discussion up for about 10 minutes to the whole group for reactions, etc.

5. Networking & Announcements. The last part of the night was set aside for people to network and connect with new people. In the future I will experiment with various types of debrief/discussion strategies, depending on the type of media, the topic the film/media is addressing, size of group, etc.

Below, I am sharing with you the questions that I created to help spark conversation. They can be used with young people and/or adults.

Let me know your thoughts; I’d love to know if you show this film to your staff or if you show it to youth; or even a mixed group.

QUESTIONS that you can use with the film:

  • Discuss examples of how kids ‘bounce’ back in this film

  • How can your work/interactions with young people develop resiliency?

  • Describe examples of high expectations you saw in the film

  • What surprised you about the young people in this film?

  • What did you learn about Philly kids from this film?

  • Who was your “Coach Dunn” when you were a youth?

  • How can you use this film with your staff? With youth? With community members?

  • What do you think was going on with the adults behind the scenes?

  • How can sports build resiliency?

  • How can rituals & routines (‘humble & hungry”) support positive youth development?

  • How do events like home coming encourage positive relationships, high expectations and opportunities?

  • How can we help kids NOT be content with average?

  • Describe and example of adults sharing leadership with youth in the film

  • What impact do you think it has on youth when adults say “I won’t wear the colors”?

  • How can youth programs partner with schools?

  • What is possible when adults get out of kids way?

  • How do adults perpetuate stereotypes and what does that do to kids?

  • How many times did Coach Dunn say “I Love You” to his team? What impact do you think that had?

  • What do you predict for the next 25 years of these kids lives?

  • How can we help youth “feel good to make the enemy family”?

  • What helped Dante to ‘bounce back”?

  • How can we empower youth to be leaders?

  • Who are the kids that no body wants? How do they get that label?

  • How can you be a “Coach Dunn” in the life of a young person?

  • How can adults help kids when they resort to “failure behaviors”?

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