April is Alcohol Responsibility Month and it’s the perfect time to take a lesson from Vanilla Ice (remember the 90s rapper?) and stop, collaborate, and listen to start a conversation about alcohol in your classroom. As educators, we have the challenge of taking tough topics and making them relevant for our middle schoolers so they’re not only meaningful, but impactful, and leave the door open to have more conversations down the road.
We spend a great deal of time with our students. Our daily interactions can provide opportunities to have a conversation about underage drinking if we know how to start. Being armed with the best current information is helpful in answering questions as they arise. To do this, stop and assess the educational materials in your teaching arsenal.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern pulling out the same worksheets, visiting the same websites, and teaching the same old lesson plans year after year but this year stop yourself from doing that. Take some time to figure out if what you have is the best way to meet the needs of your middle schoolers because chances are those old tired materials could use a refresh and that’s where Ask, Listen, Learn can help!
In a world where digital tools are part of the fabric of learning, today’s students benefit from factual, comprehensive, and memorable multimedia materials. Our new seven-part animated series and corresponding lesson plans are designed to teach kids about what the brain does, what alcohol does to it, and what THAT does to them. We give the seven parts of the brains distinct identities and personalities so tweens and teens learn how alcohol affects each part of their developing brain. Interactive classroom activities, vocabulary exercises, comprehension questions, a facilitator’s guide, and our brand new teacher training video are available to make implementing lessons quick and easy.
As teachers, we spend lots of time teaching and re-teaching and sometimes it feels like we’re repeating things ad nauseam. That’s because it information doesn’t start to sink in until it’s heard for a seventh time! Rather than hearing the same things from us over and over again, it’s important to involve different voices to convey the same message.
Collaborating with teaching colleagues, parents, school counselors, and nurses, can make student learning about the risks associated with underage drinking more impactful, especially when using the Ask, Listen, Learn resources. In addition to the animated videos and lesson plans, the new free content includes a downloadable sample letter to parents, materials for counselors, and resources to support school nurses in their efforts to help students make healthy decisions.
Listening can be one of the hardest things to do when it’s our job to teach but when students come to us, it’s important to be quiet and listen. Being approached by a student about important topics like alcohol means they trust us. Rather than filling the conversation with lectures and teachable moments, say “this is what I think and I care about you.” Keep it short and sweet, but also genuine, so they know they can come back to you.
While underage drinking declined 51% from 2003-2015 (according to Monitoring the Future report), conversations about underage drinking between parents and their kids increased 69 percent (Responsibility.org, August 2016). This demonstrates how important it is to stop, collaborate, and listen to help today’s tweens and teens understand the impact of alcohol on their growing brains and bodies.