The youth-written stories in Represent 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 "School Is My Life Raft"
School Is My Life Raft
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Different Strokes for Different Folks

For this exercise, have paper and pens or pencils available for students to jot down some notes.

Read the Story: 10 minutes
As a group, read aloud “School Is My Life Raft” (p. 20), taking turns. Let teens pass if they don’t want to read.

Discussion: 30 minutes
Ask the group to identify places in the story where the writer disagrees with most of the people around her or sees things differently. [She didn’t see her mother hitting her as abuse, but as normal Haitian discipline. The other kids tease her for being a good student, but she thinks education is the key to open doors. Rather than finding a hospital depressing, she felt “at home.” She likes the idea of working overnight. When her mom tells her that her 98 grade is too low, she doesn’t complain like many kids would but agrees.]

Ask the youth to reflect on their own lives and think of one thing that people around them seem to agree on that they see differently.

Give them a few minutes to think and write down their responses.

Then ask everyone to explain their differing opinion and why they believe what they do. (Tell the other youth not to interrupt while the person is sharing.)

Next, ask teens to write down anything they’ve done differently because of that belief (like when the author starts working hard in school even though her friends blow it off). Go around again and share responses. Invite youth to connect that view and the resulting action to their future.

Is seeing something their own way helping them live the life they want?

Finally, ask the group if anyone else’s explanation of an unpopular view changed their own opinion. Point out that when you really listen to someone who goes their own way, you too can find a new way of looking at something familiar.

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