How to Use the Three A's to Promote Student Stewardship

By Michael A. Pope

You know about the three bears and three little pigs but three A's? What are they you may be asking yourself? The three A's are: Awareness, Advocacy and student Action. This method was developed from multiple P.D.'s via Fulbright, National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions and the NEA Foundation. It is a good way to include global education into your teaching with a student center focus. It can be a project, a class assignment or a good pathway for individual student research. The ultimate goal is to bring an issue or topic into your classroom, to help your students self-connect, and to finally give them a platform to have their voices heard. That voice can come in the form of student advocacy/stewardship for the environment or to promote empathy and understanding to others. The A's are a simple process but the outcome is totally in the hands and minds of our students.

Awareness is the simplest and first step in the process. Aware makes you care. This can be achieved by using a current event, or having students scavenger different media for a topic or issue they feel passionately about. At this point, I would suggest organizing students into interest groups but not overlooking that some students may choose a topic that is an individual pursuit. And that is ok.

After students find the topic, a Socratic discussion can begin that will allow students to explain the topic and to discuss the possibility of bringing this information to peers, families and the community. Making these different groups aware moves us along in the process to the second A of advocacy.

Advocacy can be defined as publicly supporting an issue or taking on a cause and promoting that cause to various groups or individuals. Traditionally student are outspoken and this second A's ties in nicely with the need of teens to make positive noise. Advocacy can be in any form from a debate , to a multimedia presentation, to petitions, and, my favorite, a student oriented video presentation. This part of the process is catered to the creativity, collaboration, and inquisitive nature of children and is the most exciting to facilitate. This wave of emotions and crescendo of ups and downs, sways perfectly to the dance of the final part of the process. The final A of student action.

This final part of the process is organic and is a direct extension of advocacy and only requires that students put their plan into action. This can be an easy as collecting signatures on a petition, to showing their multimedia or student video to the school or community leaders, or as grand as taking the issue to local or state legislators. The possibilities are only limited by the imagination of the students involved.

Throughout this process, the role of the teacher is quite simple. You introduce, facilitate, and let the students decide on the how? For many years, before and during my various fellowships, I have used this or a similar model and welcome you to contact me if you need support or guidance. Additionally, my website contains my most recent project as a Grosvenor Teacher Fellow with National Geographic and Lindblad Expeditions. I hope you can use this information to globalize your classroom, promote student stewardship, and make teaching fun again for yourself.

Teacher fellowships to bring global education into your classroom:

IREX/Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms Fellowships

National Geographic/Lindblad Expeditions/Grosvenor Teacher Fellowship

NEA Foundation Global Learning Fellowship