Life Talk

Introduction to Life Talk

In schools you know, can supporters communicate with young people as needed about things young people are experiencing and supports they need?

We need to make it more routine, not rare, to invite dialogue with students about their ongoing life experiences.

In this section of schooltalking.org, we’ll post resources that help folks communicate more routinely about students’ ongoing experiences, situations, and needs, so that folks know from students what’s going on with students and offer supports on the sport.

Featured #schooltalking effort

Here’s an example of Life Talk: interviewing young men of color about what supports their success. The Counter Narrative: Reframing Success of High Achieving Black and Latino Males in Los Angeles County asked over 200 high school-aged young men of color throughout Los Angeles County to describe and explain their achievements--and the supports in their lives they valued most.

Many students discussed how schools and opportunity contexts could be improved for everyone, even as they explained their own access to specific supports helping them to succeed in and out of school.

In this additional blog post, UCLA professor John Rogers dialogued with the report’s main author, UCLA professor Tyrone Howard. As Howard puts it, “It doesn’t have to be seen as, ‘We tackle structural inequality,’ or ‘We look at cases of success.’ I think we’re telling a more complete picture. It’s possible to talk about both.”

As takeaways from youth voices, Howard emphasizes that educators need to:

  • support a variety of ways to be “male” in schools, allowing youth to be their full selves.
  • create caring relationships and “environments of affirmation” schoolwide, not just in isolated teachers’ classrooms. (As Howard puts it, “so many young men feel like they’re kept at a distance by teachers.”)
  • support young people through moments of struggle. (“It’s almost like there’s a stigma, or an embarrassment, tied to setbacks or challenges.”)

In the end, Howard challenges educators to create what Schooltalk calls Life Talk infrastructure: time inside and outside the classroom when educators can “really get to know young people, communicate with young people, hear their dreams, talk about their own life challenges, and have those young people walk out of there feeling a renewed sense of hope.” In listening to young people, educators “humanize” and value students as people with crucial strengths and resources to apply to their own success.

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