Danny Swersky

The Numerous Reasons to Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen

Soup kitchens allow people struggling with homelessness to eat for free without discrimination or judgment. Such establishments rely on volunteers and generous monetary donations to open, meaning they are always looking for volunteers.

While there are specific requirements volunteers must meet to gain a position at their local soup kitchen, having a kind, sincere heart is the most important. Daniel Swersky says that donating your time to a local soup kitchen has many benefits, and those interested shouldn’t be put off by any criteria they need to meet. After all, it’s one of the most rewarding ways people can spend their free time.

Volunteering in any capacity comes with plenty of advantages. However, working at a soup kitchen comes with the following six specific benefits:

It’s Rewarding

Becoming a soup kitchen volunteer isn’t monetarily rewarding. However, it can give individuals something even better — happiness.

Helping those in need elicits a type of satisfaction that money (regardless of the amount) simply cannot buy. In today’s world, peace and contentment can be hard to come by, but serving free meals to those who need them most can deliver such feelings.

Teaches Life Lessons

Volunteering at a soup kitchen is a great way to meet other people. And one of the most valuable things about meeting new people is learning about their life stories and experiences.

Hearing their tales teach volunteers more about life than they’ll ever learn from films or TV shows. From sacrifice to forgiveness to relationships, people working in soup kitchens garner incredible life lessons, helping them become better versions of themselves.

On top of that, these establishments offer volunteers different perspectives. Being surrounded by people from different socioeconomic backgrounds, ethnicities, and ages is essential for constructing well-rounded, unbiased worldly views.

It Isn’t Just Giving Back

Helping in a soup kitchen isn’t just about giving back or feeling contented.

Those who’ve volunteered before deem it a chance to fulfill a moral obligation. Humans have a responsibility to help vulnerable individuals and feeding the homeless is a fantastic way to do that.

Danny Swersky

Builds Personal Relationships

Soup kitchen volunteers learn to eradicate their stereotypes and prejudices, replacing them with acceptance and embracing others for who they are as individuals.

They become adept at empathizing with others’ woes and celebrating their wins, helping them build better relationships in their personal lives.

It Offers the Chance to Meet Like-Minded Individuals

Volunteering also provides a chance to make new friends who are also interested in helping those dealing with homelessness. After all, people often find it easier to form connections with those who share the same viewpoints and interests.

Make a Difference

Finally, soup kitchen volunteers truly make a difference, and nothing can beat seeing the happy faces of those they’ve helped. Even knowing they have made a difference in somebody’s day is enough to set their hearts alight.

Volunteering at a soup kitchen is way more than cooking or serving food. It genuinely changes lives.

Danny Swersky

Motivation In Education

The struggle to motivate students is as old as education itself. Teachers and students at all levels experience it.

But how does motivation work? And how can educators get students to motivate themselves? Danny Swersky discusses below.

Factors That Influence Motivation

Motivation is a state of mind influenced by many factors. Some key contributors for children are:

  • Family environment. A stable, healthy home environment with parents who help with homework and learning is vital. If kids are dealing with divorce, violence, or material want, they’re unlikely to be motivated at school.
  • Tests and assessments. Standardized testing often upends the routines of the classroom. The focus that schools place on these assessments can also cause worry in students, especially at a younger age.
  • Learning environment. The school itself influences students’ motivation. Is the building heated properly? Are students receiving meals? Do they have unstructured time for play? 

What Teachers Can Control

There are a lot of factors to motivation that teachers can’t control. They can’t stop violence at home or change state laws about standardized tests. It’s worth bringing them up, though.

When teachers understand what they can’t control, they can work harder to improve the things they can. And teachers can be informed by factors outside their control when they make changes to the classroom environment.

Offer Opportunities for All Students

Some children work better in silence, while others need a little noise. Some thrive with independent work, while others do better in group projects.

The classroom should have a mix of environments and assignments. By doing this, teachers allow students to work to their strengths and produce their best work. When students feel like they’re learning, their motivation increases.

Teachers can also give their classes time to think through a question. When they call on the first hand that’s up 100% of the time, they make the classroom feel like a game show more than anything.

Learning Is Never Easy

Real learning isn’t easy and doesn’t work linearly. This is one of the best lessons students can learn.

There should never be shame in asking for help. Students should feel empowered to ask for assistance from both teachers and peers. Teachers can also share their struggles learning certain topics in schools. 

Mastery-oriented goals based around verbs like “to learn” and “to understand” should be emphasized over assessment-oriented goals like “to get a good grade.” Ideally, students can set their own goals with the help of teachers.

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Mastery-oriented goals also help to build intrinsic motivation in students. Intrinsic motivation comes from the students themselves, as opposed to extrinsic motivation that comes from rewards and grades.

While occasional extrinsic motivation can help a class to get through a difficult unit, it also decreases the intrinsic motivation to learn something for its own sake.
Extrinsic motivation is always part of a teacher’s toolbox. However, it ought to be used sparingly and thoughtfully.

Motivation — The Secret Sauce

While students need to learn math, reading, and science, the most important thing they can get from school is how to learn and to love to learn.

While not everything is within the teacher’s control, teachers who can improve their students’ motivations will get better results.

Danny Swersky

The Importance of Advocating for Educational Justice and Equality

On average, students of color are at least three grades behind their white peers. Many schools’ staff teams do not reflect the diversity of their students. Black and Latinx students are still less likely to be selected for gifted and talented programs.

Educational justice advocacy is about changing that. It’s about reimaging what education can feel and look like when listening to the voices of those most marginalized. It’s about students being their authentic selves without having to conform to a status quo. In short, educational justice is ensuring every pupil knows their academic and personal experiences matter.

Over the last year, conservative attacks on anti-racist and culturally responsive movements have grown significantly, making advocating for educational justice more crucial than ever. While educators and administrators band together, others must join in to keep collective action alive.

As advised by Danny Swersky, advocacy spaces should be caring, relatable, and sustainable. And institutions can do this by considering five key considerations.

Environment Matters

Establishments must involve education stakeholders when constructing their teams. Collaboration is critical to ensure the best path forward is charted, in addition to preventing burnout.

Leaders must consider how they plan to build trust and form a community with teachers, parents, and other academic professionals. Individual skills and interests should matter, and schools should aim to democratize decision-making protocols for all-around educational justice.

Time for Celebration and Creativity

Celebrating collaboration and allowing time for creativity during organizational tasks can disrupt old routines, making room for new-and-improved political ideas.

Allowing teams to celebrate small wins muddies the terrible idea that productivity is a group’s only value and highlights that all contributions are critical to making the world better than the one we inherited.

The Care Structure

Despite the irony, organizing advocacy spaces can unknowingly perpetuate injustice. Team leaders can rely on gendered or racialized emotional care or labor through self-sacrifice and notions of urgency.

Activism — though clearly the way forward — brings logistical and emotional burdens. Thus, without protocols for caring for each other during these times, people resort to ineffective “self-care” to manage stress.

Shifting focus from “caring and supporting the organizer” to “caring and supporting the collective” is essential.

Daniel Swersky

Root for a Healthy Pace

Notions of urgency incite problematic boundaries among organizers that prevent them from being honest about time constraints, interests, capacity, and needs.

Promoting unrealistic ideals of effort and time in organizing spaces risks reinstating the burnout-bringing conditions teachers already face.

Instead, establishments should aim for healthy pacing, where everybody is given time to collaborate, celebrate, rest, reflect, and reassess.

Collective Learning

Magical change occurs when teachers, parents, and other industry professionals learn together. Educational institutions should host collaborative workshops and lectures to build trust and develop a sense of community which will spark ongoing intergenerational activism.

Educational Justice Advocacy: Keeping Public Academia Moving in the Right Direction

Educational justice advocates and group organizers have a rich history of making anti-oppressive change. Thus, institutions should aim to foster this work by intentionally creating spaces made for activism, allowing the equal infrastructure students require to thrive.