While the exact itinerary of every Experiential Educator Course differs slightly, all programs include sessions that focus on the following learning objectives.
Learning Objective 1: Understanding Experiential Education Frameworks
These sessions will introduce professionals to experiential education theory, and how professionals can help facilitate and manage an appropriate level of emotional exploration and depth through experiential programming. Possible workshops include:
- Introduction to Experiential Education: What is Kolb’s Experiential Learning Cycle? How do we use experiences to support reflection, abstract conceptualization of ideas, and direct application of learning to our lives? What is the adventure wave and how can we use it in our facilitation to create safe environments where students explore meaning, values, and purpose?
- Group Juggle Will Save Us All: How can we adapt an activity, alter its objective, and thereby curate the take-aways to custom fit the needs of our group? How do we intentionally facilitate games and activities to support specific social and emotional learning and development?
- Making Meaning Through Metaphor: How can we leverage the power of metaphor and narrative to empower the students we work with to grow, challenge themselves, and feel ownership over their personal narrative? What is transfer of learning and how can we capitalize on it to strategically use metaphor and
- Jewish ritual to guide participant’s experience towards intentional personal growth?
- Social and Emotional Growth Facilitation: How do we build emotional awareness, mindfulness, positive relationships, coping skills, and motivation through facilitation? How do we integrate these themes into our facilitation and programming? How do we support an appropriate level of self-exploration and personal growth?
Learning Objective 2: Promoting Social and Emotional Health
Through an understanding of social and emotional learning, professionals will promote healthy social and emotional development in the students they serve. Possible workshops include:
- Communication Tools for Building Empathy and Rapport: Empathy and rapport are frequently connected to important outcomes in personal growth environments; however, they are rarely topics or skills that are effectively taught to new professionals. How can we use verbal and nonverbal communication strategies to align with our students? What is empathy? How do we respond empathetically when an individual shares a struggle? How can applying empathy help us build rapport with the students that we work with? Why is this important?
- Empowering Youth and Young Adults: Before we can positively impact student motivation, we need to understand what it is and how it works. This workshop explores the self-determination theory of motivation, and discusses the importance of three psychological needs (competence, relatedness and autonomy) in motivating our students and offers practical strategies that help professionals build motivation and empower youth and young adults.
- Judaism and Wellness: What is “whole-health wellness”? What does Judaism have to say about it? In what ways can Judaism serve as a protective factor, reducing mental health challenges? Are there ways in which Jewish practices make it more difficult to maintain mental health and wellness? How do we bring a wellness lens to our understanding of Jewish tradition and our creation of programming?
- Creating Open and Inclusive Spaces: What steps can we take as a community in order to ensure that all students feel welcome, supported, and understood? How does an awareness of mental and emotional health help us increase inclusivity, especially for those who may be struggling?
Learning Objective 3: Recognizing Mental Health Challenges
These sessions will help professionals recognize when the students they serve are at risk of experiencing mental health challenges. Possible workshops include:
- Introduction to Mental Health: Knowing how to interact with the world of mental health can be challenging. Between pop psychology, stereotypes, misinformation and Hollywood portrayals, it’s hard to know what is real and what is hype. Where do mental health issues come from? What do I need to know if I work with someone that has a mental health diagnosis? This workshop provides an overview of the mental health world and explores the factors that contribute to young adult mental health challenges.
- Introduction to Emerging Adulthood: Emerging adulthood is an incredible adventure and a scary endeavor. How can an understanding of this developmental stage help us better anticipate and support students’ needs? What student behaviors are developmentally appropriate and what is unhealthy during this time of life?
- Stress & Anxiety: Stress and anxiety are everywhere in today’s world. What are they, and why are we experiencing them at such high rates? This session will help professionals understand the impact of stress and anxiety on students, provide them with tools to mitigate the impacts of stress, and help students expand their “resilient zone,” and thus better manage stress.
- Being Trauma-Informed: Being Trauma-Informed does not mean we are providing therapy. Being Trauma-Informed means we are sensitive to the life experiences of the people we work with. This workshop creates a foundation for professionals by answering the following questions: What is trauma? How does trauma impact us? What makes an environment trauma-informed? How do we facilitate experiences that accommodate the needs of students who have experienced trauma?
Learning Objective 4: Early and Appropriate Intervention
These sessions will give professionals the knowledge, skills, and confidence, to intervene early and appropriately when there are mental health challenges. Possible workshops include:
- Motivational Interviewing: What is motivational interviewing? How can we use it effectively in order to support students through their individual change process?
Crisis Intervention & Deescalation: What are healthy and helpful ways to engage with an escalated student? How can we safely deescalate a situation, and what can we do to help the student process the situation after they have deescalated? How do we “Stay in Our Lane” when interacting with an escalated student?
- Suicide Prevention: Using a curriculum designed by the QPR Institute, gain confidence in assessing the threat of suicide, practice ways you can help prevent it, and learn when, where, and how to find help.
- Identifying Supports: What supports are available to you as a professional? Where can you refer students when they need additional support? This session will help professionals develop a resource list they can refer to when seeking support for their students, colleagues, or themselves.
Learning Objective 5: Self-Care for Professionals
These sessions will help professionals practice self-care and create cultures of support amongst their staff team. Possible workshops include:
- Staff Empowerment: Have you ever wondered how some organizations seem to function as a well-oiled machine, and others seem to trip all over themselves? What is happening within those organizations that are functioning so well? Magic? Luck? Divine Intervention? Or is there some way that we can build staff empowerment and watch all the pieces fall into place? This workshop will cover the ideas and theories behind these “well-oiled machines” and offer tangible strategies that help build staff empowerment in any organization.
- Compassion Fatigue: Commonly referred to as “compassion fatigue” what happens when the stress of working in the midst of others’ stress begins to affect our ability to empathize with others? This workshop helps participants learn the causes and effects of compassion fatigue and offers coping strategies, warning signs and action plans for participants or their colleagues. The workshop will also explore healthy emotional boundaries, and help professionals answer the question: How do we balance our ability to empathize and be compassionate with our students with our need to protect and sustain ourselves as professionals?
- Burnout: Do you struggle to motivate for work in the morning? Do you wonder what happened to the passion that you used to have when you thought about work? Do you feel exhausted after work? What happened? The answer to these questions is “Burnout.” This workshop will help define this condition, offer assessment tools for staff, and provide possible coping skills to help prevent burnout in your organization.