The first few weeks of our program can be extremely difficult to navigate.
For many of our students, this could be the first time in many years adhering to a strict schedule, or being in an environment with so many new faces. To help overcome this and to create a classroom environment that feels safe and supportive, we have all of our students – and some staff – create a Life Map.
This is a crucial piece of our program-our curriculum is designed in a way that asks students to share a lot of personal information with each other, and to begin tackling barriers they haven’t looked at in a long time. From filmed presentations and mock interviews to recovery workshops and goal setting, we cover a lot of ground. In order to build a classroom that can support these expectations, we spend parts of Week 1 and Week 2 creating and presenting Life Maps.
What is a Life Map?
A Life Map is a visual representation of each individual’s life typically laid out on a poster board or large blank sheet of paper. It may include personal photos, images or words from magazines, or quotes, anything that has meaning to the student, or represents a part of their life.
It is important to note that there is no right or wrong way to create one. Some students choose to lay their life in a timeline, some by different places they’ve lived, and others opt for a collage. Each Life Map is a completely different story allowing the class to understand one another better, and learn to never judge a book by its cover.
Perhaps most importantly, Life Maps provide an opportunity for students to reflect on where they have been in their lives, and what some of their hopes are for the future.
Students are required to present their Life Maps to their class, speaking for at least 30 minutes. Classmates then have a chance to ask questions and offer words of support. Many students simply thank one another for being open and sharing. This is an experience that often serves to shift the dynamic in the classroom, and brings students together in a meaningful way.
Now that our students have completed these presentations, they’ll begin to learn and develop some of the documents and skills needed to succeed, like computer training, resumes and cover letters. But what’s so important for our program is to balance those hard skills with conversations and opportunities to overcome other barriers they might have.
In our next post, we’ll be highlighting our Round Table process- where students receive individualized support from both our Job Coach and Program Counselor in creating their short and long term goals that will help them here in the program and beyond!
Follow our students on their journey through the Journey to Graduation tag!
Missed the first Journey to Graduation post? Find it, plus other Journey to Graduation blog posts by clicking on that tag at the bottom below to get the inside scoop and to learn more about what it takes to finish our program. You’ll hear from various staff members through different posts about what we teach and why it is important, and we’ll take you all the way to Graduation Day!