Alexandra Giles ’22

ThinkGive, Concord, MA

This summer, I had the opportunity to work at ThinkGive, a nonprofit organization that develops Social-Emotional Learning curriculum. Now, more than ever, social-emotional learning is imperative for students all over the world as we continue to deal with the ongoing consequences of a devastating pandemic that was (and still is) incredibly detrimental to students’ well-being—especially their social and emotional well-being.

Crafting discussion questions for the “Give to a True Friend” lesson plan.

The focus of my work with ThinkGive revolved around curriculum revision; my fellow intern and I were tasked with looking through old lesson plans to critique the content and offer suggestions to improve the plans. Starting with sixth grade, we sifted through these lesson plans, going over activities, watching various videos, and reading through the resource materials teachers were provided with. Using a spreadsheet to confirm that the lessons checked off various boxes, I noted which ones included and which ones lacked conversations around diversity, social justice, and identity. Additionally, I made sure the plans contained multicultural resources, got the children up and active, and had enough resources for teachers to choose from. We met as a group once a week, going over our suggested changes and revisions, voicing any concerns, and making a schedule for the next week. In between our weekly meetings, all work was done independently. Our supervisors were always available for any questions or concerns that came up, however, and offered their support in whatever way we needed it to successfully and meaningfully complete the week’s work.

Editing the sixth grade curriculum plan for the “Circles of Obligation.”

Having the opportunity to participate in this internship gave me insight into the process behind curriculum development. The direct service side of education relies on the careful thought that goes into crafting the curriculum, activities, and resources that are used every single day. In the past, all of my work experience has been focused on the production side; I have given homework help, acted as a recess buddy, and tutored for recently resettled refugee kids with the International Rescue Committee. ThinkGive has shown me that all teaching—especially teaching to vulnerable populations such as refugee children—requires this social-emotional component for success. As a psychology major, with a specific interest in social, developmental and educational psychology, ThinkGive was the perfect intersection of the two, giving me the chance to apply social and developmental psychology to an educational setting. Especially now, in the (semi) post-Covid world we are living in, there is so much lasting hardship, trauma, and pain that children carry with them, and I have seen the power and the importance of acknowledging that social-emotional learning should be an equal part of their curriculum—a part that the straight-forward educations relies on for success.

I am so grateful to have had this experience and pursue my interests in a way that would not have been possible without the generosity of the Public Service Internship Program.