The coolest part about tomorrow: partnerships showing strength and growing @DNTHS

This entry is part 6 of 7 in the series Gangs and Violence Awareness project

After school today, students from both of my double-block periods came together to put together a plan to run the interview with Cobe Williams tomorrow.  Just like last year, they are in charge of facilitating.  Despite coming from different project groups and periods, we had a very productive discussion on the expectations, logistics and discussion prompts for our Skype session.  After I collected potential interview questions from all of my students, my interview team sifted through the Google Form/Spreadsheet to come up with the following for our distinguished guest:

  • Is this what you thought you were going to do [being a Violence Interrupter] when you were 15 or 16?
  • Do you feel like you’ve tried your hardest in helping others?
  • How does it make you feel knowing that you are changing a person’s life and you are a role model to young adults our age?
  • How can we, as students, be interrupters ourselves, without putting our lives on the line?
  • Is it hard to work around people that are in gangs or be around violence daily?
  • How long have you been doing this [interrupting cycles of violence] now?
  • As an agent of change, what challenges have you had to overcome to be the person you are today?
  • What have you accomplished in the communities that you’ve worked with?
  • How did you find out about the Violence Interrupters?
  • What other places have the Violence Interrupters been to?  Was Danville one of them?
  • What is the hardest thing about being a Violence Interrupter?
  • What exactly made you turn your life around?
  • What advice would you give to kids our age?
  • What kind of training is needed to interrupt violence?
Through collaboration, my students came up with many levels of questions as well as questions that suggest they, themselves, are interested in being advocates.  So, the partnership may continue and fueled by a continued interest in the topic.

Over the weekend, I got an email from one of my contacts at Kartemquin Films, the documentary company behind The Interrupters, who wanted to put me in touch with other teacher-advocates who would like to build similar projects.  As our trusting partnership with Kartemquin blooms, I am finding that some Chicago Public Schools are interested in partnering with my students.  Similar to Project Citizen in our class last year, the one teacher who stood out is thinking of putting on a TedX event where students conduct field research and present on local issues.  (How cool?!  I think this would be a great schoolwide project!)  She faces a culture boundary, however, in her school, because her students are hesitant about whether they can engage issues and really impact change.  And the partnerships grow!

My students, not intimidated by presenting after a year in our New Tech program, will be great mentors via Skype in the upcoming weeks.  And they have so much to talk about between the two projects.  Students helping students: there are no fences separating our schools.

Series Navigation<< Tues @DNTHS: Violence Interrupter “Cobe” Williams joins us via SkypeOn social media: Bridges bring the heroes in while fences make more villains >>

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