On Tuesday this week I had the opportunity to share the 4-H Thriving Model with our 4-H educators in Nebraska via a Zoom webinar. I have been teaching via webinars for quite some time now, and over the years I have worked out most of the basic kinks. I have also developed loads of strategies for handling all the technological curveballs that invariably happen when trying to teach from a distance. At this point I feel pretty comfortable with all that. What I remain very much uncomfortable with is the feeling that I am talking to a blank wall.
This is especially true when there is no video interaction taking place. It is so hard to know what the participants are thinking, or for that matter if they are even listening at all! But I have learned that the silence is often because participants are thinking deeply and listening hard, and it is only after the webinar is over that their questions come forward.
And so, I have learned to wait…
Sure enough, after Tuesday’s webinar I received a very important question about the 4-H Thriving Model that I think we should explore here. The questioner stated that she understood what she could do to create a high quality development context. Indeed, she articulated that the call to action was to create programs that foster the elements of sparks, belong, and developmental relationships. Can do.
She was less clear on her role when it came to the thriving indicators “are the indicators outcomes that happen because of the developmental context? Or should we DO something to influence their development.” Ah… I thought. That is a great question!
It would be a mistake to think of the thriving indicators as outcomes rather than a process, and as something that happen automatically, even in the best 4-H programs. Figuring out how you are going to enhance the thriving indicators should be part of your program plan and reflected in your program activities. This means that as educators we need to focus on two things – the first is ensuring the program is high quality, and the second is intentionally designing activities to enhance one or more of the thriving indicators. Think of this in the same way that you focus on teaching particular content skills, for example in science or citizenship, only now instead of content, you are contributing to the process of youth thriving.
Anddddd… my guess is that many of you are already doing this as illustrated by a conversation with a 4-H educator in Montana who called to share with me the work she does with youth around goal setting. This educator uses the SMART goals framework (goals that are Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) to help youth set goals. Is that a way to promote the thriving indicator of goal setting, she asked? (abundantly paraphrased). Why yes. Yes it is!
And that is how sharing questions and ideas bring the 4-H Thriving Model to life.