Helpful Hints for Success for Community Partners
Community partners are co-educators to MU service learners. The technical knowledge and expertise community partners bring to the partnership is valuable. The Service Learning Program aims to work in tandem with community partners, helping to meet their organizational needs and providing much-needed learning outside the classroom for students. The following is a list of co-educator tips community partners can utilize when working with service learners:
- Be selective on where you place students. They should be working in appropriate areas to meet course requirements as well as agency needs. Making sure that everyone's needs are satisfied as much as possible will save headaches later on.
- Remember that you can require more than two hours a week (for training sessions, reflections, service, etc.) or more intense training if these extra requirements are clearly communicated before students sign up for service.
- You might institute an observation for the first day of service--after the site orientation--to help students feel more comfortable starting service.
- Spend time at the beginning of the semester giving background information to students so they will be better equipped to deal with situations that may arise.
- Invite students to sit in on staff meetings when possible.
- Suggest additional resources to service learners (books, articles, etc.) related to your site and their experiences.
- Hold debrief sessions/exit interviews at the end of the semester to talk about what has happened. (It was suggested that this take the place of service on the final day, but it could also work as a separate meeting.) This could be a more in-depth final reflection time.
As time goes by, you will discover creative ways to make this collaboration work best at your site. Whatever you do to increase the academic benefits to our students will be much appreciated, and we welcome your feedback. If you have any questions, comments, concerns, please contact Tyanna McLaurin, Assistant Director of the Marquette Service Learning Program.