The youth-written stories in YCteen give inspiration and information to teens in foster care while offering staff insight into those teens’ struggles.

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Teacher Lesson Return to "Unexpected Emotions"
Unexpected Emotions
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Preparing to Live on Your Own


Brainstorm and Discussion: 20 minutes
Ask the group to think about living on their own for the first time. What are they looking forward to? What is scary? How do they imagine it will feel to be in their own place? What can they do to make their home feel like home and make their life feel like it’s in their control?

Then give everyone a blank sheet of paper. Ask them to draw a line down the middle and label one side: Ways to Prepare Before I Age Out, and the other: Things I Can Do Once I Live on My Own. Have them take five minutes to list both practical things, like getting their NYCHA application submitted two years in advance and learning to cook and clean, or social-emotional things, like learning to reach out for support when they need it, manage stress and negative emotions, and resolve conflicts (e.g., with roommates). When most students are done writing, invite everyone to share. Write their suggestions on the board or easel paper.

Read the Story: 10 minutes
Have the group read “Unexpected Emotions” by J.G. Go around the room, taking turns reading aloud. Let group members pass if they want to.

Discussion: 10 minutes
Ask the group if anything surprised them about J.G.’s experience. If nobody says it, point out that instead of feeling free and happy to be out of the system and in a nice apartment, she felt bad about her years in care and unprepared to take care of herself.

Have them turn to the first list: Ways to Prepare. Can they add anything based on what J.G. wished she had done? (Learn how to apply for welfare, how to get health insurance and choose doctors, pay bills, and keep track of appointments.) Then go to the other list and do the same thing—add things from the story. (Put up a wall calendar; figure out what sort of job suits your personality; be polite to workers at public assistance and other offices as well as roommates; take the initiative to figure out what medication works for you rather than waiting for adults to decide for you; help other people by sharing your experiences.) Ask if anyone has any other suggestions to share with the group about how to feel in charge of your life.

Closing Activity: 5 minutes
Ask everyone to look at their “Ways to Prepare Before I Age Out” list, and circle one item that they can get started on this month. Go around the room and ask each teen to share the item they are going to focus on this month.
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[Other Teacher Resources]
(FCYU-2017-01-18)

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