Village Way educators call absent students to offer encouragement, understanding.
Truancy and low attendance in school is not uncommon for at-risk youth who live in chaotic and, often, dysfunctional home environments. At Village Way Educational Initiatives, facilitators are helping educators in partner communities reach out to their students in personal and meaningful ways in order to encourage youth to return to the classroom.
Lockdowns and distance learning are challenging for all teenagers, and even more so for youth at risk, who often face learning difficulties, behavioral issues, and disruptive home environments. Many youth watch their families struggle financially and have secured jobs to help with their family's income.
One school facing such issues is Mahat Sachnin Technology High School, located in the Arab city of Sachnin in the Galilee, where an increased number of their students did not return after Israel's most recent lockdown.
In a learning session with the school's educators, Village Way facilitators helped educators address this issue head-on in a practical way.
In a recent Zoom session on the topic of "dialogue and the power of one-on-one conversations," VWEI facilitators asked the educators: If you could have a meaningful conversation with these kids who are not showing up to school, what kinds of things would you want to ask them? What messages would you want to pass on to them?
Together they created an impressive list.
Then the facilitators asked the educators to turn off the Zoom for 15 minutes and call a student who was not in any kind of contact with the school. Staff responded with surprise and some anxiousness by this request. "What, right now? Only 15 minutes?" Ultimately, everyone agreed and left to make their calls.
When they returned to the Zoom call, the educators shared that they each contacted a different student and had an encouraging conversation.
Educators said their conversations sent messages of caring and support. "We miss you; we care about you, we want to know how you are doing, and we would really like to see you in school. The class isn't the same without you. You have more to learn and we are doing interesting things. There are vocational certification tests coming up and we want to help you get through them."
The students expressed surprise by the informal call from their school's senior staff and most were very moved by the conversation.
Educators reported back that every single one of the students they had called showed up to school the next day.
A huge step in a positive direction.
Being back at school means they are off the streets, they are investing in themselves, and they are being impacted by a positive and supportive educational community.
One of the educators shared, "We usually think that in order to deal with complex issues such as truancy that we need more time, planning, etc. Sometimes that is true, but we saw with this exercise how much even a quick, personal conversation can make a difference. The Village Way is helping us to think out of the box, with real results."
Read more about how the Village Way educational methodology is transforming the lives of at-risk youth throughout Israel.