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Last week, we had the pleasure to host a Webinar focused on the planning and optimizing of Service Learning programs ahead of the 2021/22 academic year. Focused on initiatives taken both in and outside of the classroom, we had 784 registrants in total and were able to bring together voices from around the world. 

This year has, of course, been quite different and challenging for everyone. While it would be easy to dwell on the negatives that have disrupted us all, we wish to focus on highlighting some of the remarkable ways that students and schools have adapted and innovated over the last year. Our webinar was about celebrating those successes and providing inspiration for the future. 

Flexibility and adaptability 

This academic year was always going to be about innovation, flexibility and discovery. We have been active in finding ways to fulfill our mission of serving international students and their schools and teachers. From our Waste Reduction Challenge to hosting multiple series of our Virtual CAS Conferences, we are constantly amazed at the contributions of participants and the innovative solutions they come up with. Looking toward the future, there does seem to be endless possibilities in terms of new directions Service Learning programs can take. Despite the uncertainty that remains, we feel incredibly optimistic and are excited to be bringing together pioneering thinkers dedicated to this cause. 

Service Learning going forward

To help us envision the future of Service Learning, we were joined by our partner for our CAS Induction Workshops and Service Learning expert, Cathryn Berger Kaye. A pioneering force in transforming how students and schools approach Service Learning, Cathryn has long been a leading voice in the field and was a primary contributor to the most recent IB CAS Guide.

She has sensed a significant shift over the last year and sees incredible potential for Service Learning integration going forward. As she explained in her presentation, “Now more than ever, youth awareness of what is going on in the world has been heightened. Children and teens of all ages are exhibiting a real intensity, a desire to be more informed and to be taken seriously. They want to be part of the solution when it comes to protecting the environment, engaging in social justice, and keeping their communities safe. 

They do not want to be observers — they wish to be creators, catalysts, contributors, collaborators, and changemakers.

Putting youth at the center of the action, Cathryn outlined three P’s we can look to as educators and facilitators: Pedagogy, Process, and Possibilities. 

From finding direct ways to integrate Service Learning into the curriculum to facilitating memorable learning experiences — Cathryn provided a host of strategies that educators can use to hit academic markers while taking advantage of the current moment and mobilizing the full extend of student engagement and enthusiasm.  

Cathryn also dove into how the procedural framework of the 5 Stages of Service Learning and CAS, how they can be applied across all aspects of education, and ultimately become a lifelong skill. She encourages educators to “look at the curriculum with a critical and curious eye — tweak projects and lesson plans and find a way to make an actual connection to the community.” 

Cathryn also dove into how the procedural framework of the 5 Stages of Service Learning and CAS, how they can be applied across all aspects of education, and ultimately become a lifelong skill. She encourages educators to “look at the curriculum with a critical and curious eye — tweak projects and lesson plans and find a way to make an actual connection to the community.” 

Credits: CBK

CAS Inspiration 

The second half of our webinar focused on highlighting various inspirational examples from students around the world. From Shanghai Community International School’s pioneering program to utilize ed tech to shift the focus of their Service Learning program to look inwards and build their own school community to students groups promoting digital literacy in Jakarta, Indonesia and shedding light on mental wellbeing in Geneva, Switzerland — these initiatives show that young people have plenty to contribute to solving some of the most challenging issues we are facing. 

Our webinar concluded with a broad offering of CAS resources, inducing volunteering opportunities, CAS project inspiration, CAS Trip resources, and more! 

As we continue navigating this ‘new normal’ together, we will continue providing resources to help guide, inspire, and support CAS programs worldwide. 

You can watch a recording or the webinar here or follow this link to learn more about our CAS Induction Workshops.

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