The Rebel Gardeners a small group of committed young people in a school working together to create a healthier community. Our work is driven by the voice of young people, and supported by adult champions. The champion(s) is responsible for getting the Rebel Gardeners off the ground- it can be a teacher, counselor, nurse, administrator, parent, or volunteer. The requirements for the champion are reliability, passion, and experience, as well as the ability to oversee at least two 1-hour lessons per week during the day or after-school with the Rebel Gardeners.
The most likely candidates for Rebel Gardeners champions are teachers and staff in the school, parent volunteers, or student volunteers from a local college or university. The first step to establishing a Rebel Gardeners project in a school is contact between the champion and the Principal. In this meeting the logistics of the site will be set up. Primarily -what grade and class will the Rebel Gardeners be recruited from? Depending on the goals and needs of the school, the Rebel Gardeners can be pulled out from different classes during a particular period of the school day or after-school. Or, the Rebel Gardeners could be built into an already existing class. The Rebel Gardeners concept also transcends age- so a group can be 3rd graders, 8th, or 11th, or even a combination of students from different age ranges.
The initial recruitment of Rebel Gardeners at a school is an application process coordinated by the champion. This involves presentations to the classes of potential participants (for example all 7th and 8th grade classrooms) explaining the responsibilities and expectations of a Rebel Gardener, followed by the handing out a parent permission form and written application. Those students who turn this in then enter an interview process, led by the champion. Subsequent recruitment will led by the Rebel Gardeners themselves. In general a Rebel Gardeners group should range between 6-12 students per adult.
All Rebel Gardeners activities are project-based and aimed at solving real-world problems. Project ideas are formed through inquiry. The first questions for the Rebel Gardeners to ask themselves are:
“Is our school healthy? Why and why not? What can we do to create a healthier school community?” From this series of questions, projects emerge.
The design of the project is a collaborative conversation between Rebel Gardeners and champions. This will depend on the size of the Rebel Gardeners group, the time and frequency the group meets, resources available to the group, and the experiences and interests of the Rebel Gardeners themselves.
What comes out of the project design phase is the project plan. This lays out the goal of the project, the timeline, and the roles and responsibilities for each participant (champion, Rebel Gardeners, other outside partners). It’s at the phase that the champion takes responsibility in ensuring that the procurement of all necessary equipment and supplies is coordinated.
From here, the project begins. Each Rebel Gardeners lesson follows a similar superstructure. The group meets to review overall project goals, as well as norms and expectations. Then the plan for the day is discussed, and each individual assumes a specific role and responsibility, receives any necessary training needed to successfully complete the task, and begins working on the project. Towards the end of the session, the group reconvenes to share all that was accomplished while practicing good public speaking skills.
It is the responsibility of the champion to plan out the superstructure of each individual lesson, and guide the Rebel Gardeners through it. Here’s a simple checklist for the champion to use to make sure each lesson will be a success:
- Does the goal of this lesson clearly contribute to the overall success of the project?
- Do each role and responsibility for the Rebel Gardeners clearly contribute the overall goal of the lesson?
- Does each role have a clear deliverable that the Rebel Gardener is accountable for?
- Are the responsibilities for each role engaging, challenging, and clearly explained?
- Are support mechanisms (champions or other Rebel Gardeners) clearly identified when help is needed?