How to plan next year’s service learning plan now

POSTED: May 14, 2024Category: GeneralBY: AISA P9

As we approach the last weeks of the school year, our thoughts are often consumed with wrapping up the semester or term by finishing reports, grading final summative assessments and engaging in end-of-year celebrations.

We may also find our thoughts migrating ahead to the upcoming school year. We may plan our first units of the next year so when we return to campus we can start the year in a balanced and prepared way. We may think about what went well this year alongside areas of growth and make goals for what we want to do differently or better next year.

This time of reflection and forward-thinking is rich, and leads to our continued development and growth as excellent international educators.

If you use service learning/community engagement/service as action in any of your units or all-school programming, this is an ideal time to engage in the cycle of reflection, forward-thinking and goal-setting, too.

How can you best use your time now to plan for success with curricular service learning in 2024/25?

1. Evaluate your curriculum from this academic year.

What units have natural entry points for connections with local and global issues, or with community assets and needs? What units or assessments worked well and which ones need some work? If you aim to redesign a unit or assessment to increase student engagement or deep learning, how might you use action, community engagement, advocacy, deep listening, and digital citizenship (all aspects of service learning) to add value and depth?

2. Consider what community partnerships intersect with your curriculum.

If your school has sustainable, long-term service partners, how might those organizations or communities connect to what you’re teaching? How might you engage with a community partner to offer your students a chance to listen to stories, consider new perspectives and learn from and with a partner? How might you help students connect across difference to better see the world in its complexity and to think critically about themselves, their communities and our planet’s ecosystems?

3. Engage your teaching team or department in conversations about service learning.

As you have your final team meetings of the year and as you celebrate successes, carve out time to engage your team in thinking forward, too. Can you do an inventory or audit of your team’s curriculum as a whole and consider where there might be opportunities to design an anchor service learning experience? In conducting that inventory or audit, can you celebrate where you already engage students in the skills that support active global citizenship and community engagement? Consider things like:

  • Empathy and compassion
  • Kindness
  • Mindfulness
  • Deep listening
  • Open-mindedness
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Digital citizenship
  • Awareness of power and privilege
  • Care for others and the planet
  • Inclusion of all perspectives and voices

4. Talk to your students about what they care about.

Impactful service learning is deeply rooted in student voice, choice and agency. Consider having conversations with your students around the following questions:

  • What local and global issues do you most care about? Why?
  • What most worries or concerns you about the future?
  • If you could have a superpower to change something in the world, what would it be and what would you change?
  • What do you want to know more about? Why?

Based on what your students share, you may find yourself adjusting some curriculum for 2024/25, or you may see natural entry points in your curricular units to connect to what your students care about.

5. Take some time to think quietly about what matters most to you as an educator.

Our schools are busy places and there are many priorities competing for our attention. As a result, it’s sometimes hard to see the forest for the trees and we may even feel disconnected from the reason(s) why we became educators in the first place. As you wrap up the year, can you find a sliver of time to be in a natural place, free of distractions, to remember what matters most to you as an educator and how this might find expression in what you teach next year? Can you connect to yourself and the natural world in a way that inspires you to imagine how you might help your students fall more in love with nature next year, too?

I hope these are helpful tips for you as you wrap up the 2023/24 school year! Thank you for what you do as service learning educators in the AISA region and, if you have any questions about service learning, please don’t hesitate to contact me ( or

Written By:
LeeAnne Lavender
AISA Service Learning Programme Coordinator

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