New Skills Framework Unveiled for All Boston Educators at the ACT Skills Summit

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by Aja Watkins
This post originally appeared on bostonbeyond.org

Hundreds of educators, policymakers, advocates, and funders gathered at Boston University on Monday, June 5 around Boston After School & Beyond’s new Achieve, Connect, Thrive (ACT) Skills framework. The ACT Skills Summit was an exciting day full of engaging activities, including hearing from education leaders, researchers, and program practitioners concerning best practices for cultivating the ACT Skills.

The newly unveiled ACT Skills Framework consists of nine skills, three in each of the Achieve, Connect, and Thrive categories.

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Attendees to the Summit first heard about the importance of these skills in relation to college, career, and life success from local education leaders.

“What we need – across settings – is a skills agenda” -Rahn Dorsey, the City of Boston’s Chief of Education

“We’re in a critical time to close the achievement gap and improve the self sufficiency of individuals” -Hardin Coleman, Dean of the Boston University School of Education

“We’ve found a very strong mismatch between what we need in a community and the jobs that we’re able to fill.” -Kelli Wells, Executive Director of Education and Skills at the GE Foundation

“We all need a common understanding of how we define college and career readiness. The ACT Framework does a good job defining these skills.” -Dr. Tommy Chang, Superintendent of Boston Public Schools

“It is key to give young people opportunities in a complex environment, and provide them with real world experience.” -Wanda McClain, Vice President of Community Health and Health Equity at Brigham and Women’s Hospital

“You are doing the work that we need as a city, a Commonwealth, and a nation” -Senator Chang-Díaz, Chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Education

The group also heard from Dr. Gil Noam, Founder and Director of the PEAR Institute at Harvard Medical School, about the research base for the ACT skills. “Let’s make these skills live, let’s not just talk about them. Let youth see that adults have ups and downs and they can persevere,” Dr. Noam said. “If we pursue the goal of the engaged learner we have a chance to make the future into the golden age of education.”

Attendees then transitioned into a series of workshops delivered by program staff. Over the coming weeks, Boston After School & Beyond will be releasing a series of blog posts detailing the contents of each of these sessions:

Achieve Workshops: HMS MEDScience: Think Like a Scientist!

Phillips Brooks House Association: Training for Critical Thinking – Aligning Staff Development with Creative Curricula

Sociedad Latina: Teaching Achieve Skills through Design Thinking

The PEAR Institute: Metacognition Activities for Afterschool and Summer Programs

Connect Workshops:Scholar Athletes: ACT Skills Mapping for Program Development

Courageous Sailing: Connecting to Succeed

The PEAR Institute: Using Art and Literature to Build Empathy

Thrive Workshops:Berklee City Music: Understanding the Social-Emotional Needs of Youth

Sportsmen’s Tennis and Enrichment Center: Being Your Best Self – Supporting Student Success

St. Stephen’s Youth Programs: Striving to Thrive – Feeling Safe, Feeling Big, Feeling Connected

The PEAR Institute: Neuroplasticity, the Brain, and Student Self-Concept and Growth

The materials from each of these workshops can be found here. An academic paper about the development of the ACT Skills Framework is forthcoming.

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