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Workshop Highlight: Understanding How Youth are Wired

December 6th, 2014

We’ve been doing a lot of research to understand more about how youth are wired – spending time with youth, studying personalities and researching brain development.  We’re fascinated by what we’ve learned and we’re having a blast sharing the info and practical strategies with schools and youth organizations.  Check out this workshop that we’ve designed:

Understanding How Youth are Wired

Each child is wired with unique personality, interests, skills, attitudes and capacities. Each one has individual needs, desires, dreams and wants. There ARE, however, important, general aspects and facts that can help us better understand their psyches and developmental needs. This workshop shares some key insights on the “science” and “wisdom” of human development that will help you in establishing helpful practices and attitudes to maximize your time with your group. Explore brain development, the multiple intelligences, active reflection, and the various learning styles that allow young people to learn well.  Strategies to maximize learning opportunities while actively engaging youth are presented.

Length of time: 3 – 4 hours

Contact us if you want to bring this workshop to your organization – 615-262-9676 or

Relationships – the Cornerstone of Education and Youth Work

November 19th, 2014

Connecting with youth is phenomenal progress, but it’s the tip of the iceberg when it comes to positive youth development. In this chapter, we’re going to go beyond connecting with youth and cover what it means to really know youth. What it means to be in a relationship with your youth. The time you spend getting to know your youth as individuals—their personalities, quirks, cultures, strengths, and needs—is the most important time you will ever spend in your program.

Think about it: What will your youth remember most about you? Will it be the clothes you wore or how you combed your hair? In all likelihood, youth will remember the kind of relationship you had with them. More than math equations learned, knots tied, and zip-lines crossed, they will remember whether you cared about them. The best way to show you care about people is to get to know them.

Relationships are the cornerstone of your program or classroom. Relationships are built on a culmination of experiences, words, actions, body language, and time.  Never underestimate the power and influence you have on youth.

Looking for practical ideas for connecting with youth in your classroom or program? Check out our newest book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

The Importance of One-on-One Time with Youth

November 12th, 2014

“The larger our society gets, the more vague and less personal . . . I find it more and more appealing to kids to attain one-on-one time with the leaders and/or adults. Only then will you find out any issues that they may be struggling with and/or be able to successfully grow a healthy relationship with them after spending this quality time together. The activity does not necessarily have to be specific here, but the efforts must be intentional.”   Valorie Buck, youth worker and mother

We believe Valorie is spot on!  That’s why we spend so much time talking about CONNECTING with youth in our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!

Wise Words on Flexibility in Education and Youth Work

November 5th, 2014

“You have to be aware of where your group is and be ready and willing to throw the plans and curriculum out the window when there are issues to be dealt with today. Forging ahead with your plans without acknowledging their issues simply shows that you are unaware, or worse, don’t really care. Adapting plans and being present builds trust and commitment for tomorrow when it is time to get back to work. Being present and being flexible are crucial.”

– Anderson Williams, entrepreneur, artist, and educational consultant

13 Ways to Enhance Your Brain

October 15th, 2014

Scientists have been doing such much work with the brain.  In our latest book,  Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth, we combined the best of the best in research with our experience in classrooms, teams and youth organizations to create 13 ways to enhance the brain.

1. Get Moving

2. Include Novelty and Exploration

3. Challenge the Brain

4. Talk to One Another

5. Smile, Laugh, and Develop a Sense of Humor

6.  Incorporate Music

7.  Take Time for Meditation

8.  Make Time for Feedback and Reflection

9.  Reduce Stress

10. Drink Water and Lots of it!

11. Practice Focusing and Keeping Attention

12. Feed Short- and Long-Term Memory

13. Yawn and Yawn Often

In the book, we explain more about the science behind each brain enhancer and give you concrete strategies to integrate into your program/classroom/club to enhance youth brains.  Check it out!

Core Beliefs about the Rights of Young People

October 1st, 2014
  • Every young person, despite deficits or challenges, has strengths, resources, and gifts, even if obscured. They have the right to discover those strengths and who they are.
  • Youth are capable and competent. They have the responsibility and the right to give of themselves to others and to make a difference.
  • Youth need the transformational power of hope. When youth believe there is hope for a better future, they are able to envision, face, and strive for that future. They have the right to dream big, aspire to greatness, and have meaningful opportunities.
  • Youth need safe places to grow and explore. They have the right to be safe.
  • Every youth needs caring adults to surround them with support and opportunities to encourage their growth. They have the right to have adults who believe in them and tell them so. Repeatedly.

Adults who are able to say yes to these core beliefs exercise a final, unswerving commitment.  They never abandon a faith in the inner power, giftedness, and greatness of young people. They look for even the minutest indicator of greatness as confirmation. They listen to the dreams of youth, encourage them, expect greatness, believe in them, vocalize that belief, and continuously call forth the strengths youth have within themselves. They actively work to help youth realize their potential, recognize it, and live fully from it.

Wanna learn more about supporting young people?  Check out our new book, Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.  It is full of strategies to help educators, coaches and youth workers bring out the best in young people!  Check it out and share it with someone else that loves young people!


Three Dynamite Ways to Power Up Your Work with Youth – Webinar Invitation

September 16th, 2014
Join us for a Webinar on September 24
Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
Are you curious about what it means to truly share power with young people? Then join us for a free webinar presented by youth development experts Susan Ragsdale and Ann Saylor. This webinar will feature highlights from these bestselling authors’ new book, “Groups, Troops, Clubs, & Classrooms: The Essential Handbook for Working with Youth.” This webinar will discuss
• understanding what a strength-based approach means  • activating young people’s sense of power and putting their strengths into action • sustaining your own sense of power through self-care
Webinar participants will discover motivational activities that young people love and practices that can transform a program or classroom.
Title: Three Dynamite Ways to Power Up Your Work with Youth
Date: Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Time: 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT
After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements         PC-based attendees         Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees         Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mobile attendees         Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Sneak Peek into our New Book: Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth”

September 8th, 2014

We are so excited about our new book which should come in the mail any day!!  It’s called “Groups, Troops, Clubs and Classrooms: An Essential Handbook for Working with Youth“.

This inspiring guide is for teachers, volunteers, group leaders, youth counselors, coaches, and anyone who works with young people. Readers will learn about how young people are wired, how to create inviting classrooms and meeting spaces, and how to connect with students in meaningful, lasting ways. Find dozens of strategies to help young people discover their inner strengths and passions. Dozens of games, activities, icebreakers, and quizzes will keep you and your young people engaged and motivated.

We thought you might like a sneak peek into the content, so here are the section titles and chapter titles.  More to come…

Part One: Youth, Strength, and Power

Chapter One: A Strength-Based Approach to Positive Youth Development

Chapter Two: Putting Positive Youth Development to Work

Chapter Three: Understanding How Young People Are Wired

Chapter Four: How Young People Think and See the World


Part Two: Activating Power

Chapter Five: Preparation: The Work before the Work

Chapter Six: Connect with Them

Chapter Seven: Know Them

Chapter Eight: Engage Them

Chapter Nine: Stretch Them

Chapter Ten: Challenge Them

Chapter Eleven: Power Up


Part Three:  Sustaining Power

Chapter Twelve: The Practice of Self-Mastery

Chapter Thirteen: The Practice of Gratitude

Chapter Fourteen: The Practice of Recharging

Financial Literacy: Let’s Hear It For The Girls

August 28th, 2014

According to singer Beyonce’s hit song, girls run the world. If that’s the case, they are going to need a strong grasp of finances in order to remain in charge. Fortunately, a number of options exist to help girls learn financial literacy.

Click here to read the whole article.

Kelso’s Choice Wheel – Solving Conflicts

August 26th, 2014

According to the Kelso website, “Kelso the frog teaches students how to solve “small” problems on their own. “Small” problems include conflicts that cause “small” feelings of annoyance, embarrassment, boredom, etc. “BIG problems” always need to be taken to an adult. These are situations that are scary, dangerous, illegal, etc.”  Here’s a picture of the wheel, but check out the site to learn more.


Resource for Substitute Teachers

August 9th, 2014

One of our educator friends emailed us this note about our best-selling books Great Group Games.   It made us smile, and we thought it might give you an idea to encourage youthworkers and educators in your life:

“I led the Human Treasure Hunt with a 2nd grade class last week and they had a blast!!  Susan and Ann – you girls have made my substituting days SOooo much easier and so much fun!”

Find out more about the book here or at your favorite online reseller.

Inspire My Kids

August 6th, 2014

“Kids can change the world. All they need is a little inspiration!”  That’s the tagline for InspireMyKids.  They provide ideas and resources to inspire parents and educators to inspire children.  The site is full of easy to navigate stories, quotes and other cool stuff.

You can sort by values:

Or topics:

And you can even sort by subject or age.  So cool!  Check it out and see how you can inspire kids around you at:

What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind

July 15th, 2014

Greetings from Barbara at The Corner on Character. During my thirty years spent teaching and counseling (all grades preK through 12th) in public education, I have been encouraged time and time again by colleagues and friends to write a book. Since I’d been sharing my ideas for character integration online since 2000, my pat answer was always that I’d posted enough content for a book online, for free. But still, character educators seemed enthusiastic about and eager for a book. Then, one day in early October 2103, I got an email from a cyberspace collaborator in Florida with the word PROMISE in the subject line. Here’s what it said:

Can you promise me one day when you consolidate all of your amazing posts into your future best-selling book that I can get a signed copy? Your posts belong on a bookshelf as well as your blog, especially in libraries everywhere. Dream big, God has incredible plans for you. Love you sweet friend, Tamara

I received the gift of encouragement, from Tamara, that day and shortly afterward, I met Marian from Nelson Publishing and Marketing at the Character Education Partnership National Forum on Character Education where she saw me speak. Before I knew it, I was sending a signed book contract off to Michigan.


Using this guiding question as a focus – What do workshop participants typically leave my sessions having enjoyed and wanting more of? –  the answer, character-infusion stories and strategies, became the basis for What’s Under Your Cape? SUPERHEROES of the Character Kind. It’s a quick guide to character development, aimed at educators and caregivers who have a hand in helping our future leaders crusade for good. Using the acrostic SUPERHEROES to layout the eleven chapters, I’ve infused inspirational interactions with innovative ideas to help develop eleven of the virtues that we can nurture in our caped crusaders as we empower them to soar.


Here now, an excerpt from Chapter 3 – P is for Perseverance:

So, how do we get our superheroes to stay the course? They have to have permission to fail. They need to know that not only is failure okay but that, according to author Paul Tough, it might be the key to success. In his research, Tough found that grit, resilience, and perseverance were key ingredients in the success stories of their test subjects.10 Kids who don’t give up when they encounter obstacles in their way, who don’t quit when they hit a pothole in the road, and who don’t abandon ship when the winds shift and steering their vessel seems all but impossible are the kids who find the greatest success through their school years and beyond. As we coach these learners, we must encourage them to take risks and to be okay with messing up. They need to know that mistakes are opportunities for reflection, improvement, and growth. We must help them strive to do THEIR best, not be THE best. We have to change the mindset that the silver medal is somehow losing. Silver isn’t losing. It’s coming in second. That’s all. When did silver get so tarnished? Is it possible that we’re raising kids to quit when they think they can’t attain the coveted gold at the end of the rainbow?

When my daughter started in the marching band, she had high hopes for them at the State Marching Contest. They were marching a clean and elegant show with strong music, and they ended up fourth in the State of Texas out of 250 bands their size. Two years and lots of growth and improvement later, their band came out of the preliminary competition number one. But there were still finals with new judges and a clean slate. The students marched their hearts out, and they came in second. They were devastated. Crushed to have gotten so close to gold and yet so far. Second place out of so many bands is good, no doubt, but they set their standards high. They worked hard, and there was a lot of disappointment.

But here’s what superheroes know: winning is a state of mind. There were thousands of students who didn’t even get a trip to the state competition because they didn’t advance out of their district or their area, so just getting to state made them winners. The way that the 271 members, musicians and guard members, together created magic with their music made them winners. Leaving it all on the field, heart and soul, made them winners. It shouldn’t matter, if they worked hard, persevered, and gave it their best, and earned second or fifth or tenth.


Thank you for your interest in my new release; author-signed copies of the book are available for purchase at The Corner On Character.  For superhero activity ideas, visit my Pinterest page and to come along on our What’s Under Your Cape? book study that starts July 12, check out the book’s Facebook page

See schedule below and check out the first chapter review at



Sharing a Love for Books

June 5th, 2014

I love the 4 ideas shared in this blog!  Click through the article to read more about each idea:

1. Send your books on a journey

2. Make your library mobile

3. Build a tiny library

4. Have a book exchange party

Here’s the full article:  Love Your Books? 4 Ways to Share Them With Others

Students Provide Games for After School Care Sites

May 14th, 2014









We love games, we love helping children and we love service; so we decided to connect all of those passions when we were invited to lead 10 onsite service stations at Ensworth High School’s Social Issues Conference.

We partnered with NAZA (Nashville After Zone Alliance), whose afterschool care providers are always looking for creative ways to engage young people in learning.  Ensworth students created and/or shared 20 games that the children can play with a deck of cards.   They are creative and they are fun!  We will be sharing them with the NAZA site directors next month.

How could your students help younger children in your community?  Could you create games?  Lead games?  Read together? Coach a sports team? Lead a sports clinic? Tutor?

The possibilities are endless.  Take Ensworth’s lead, and find a way that your students can make a difference – on campus or off campus!










If you are looking for a great onsite service project in middle Tennessee, you might consider partnering with Charis Ministries, like we did for the onsite service stations at Ensworth High School’s Social Issues Conference.

Students worked together to pack 131 bags of rice for Charis Ministries to share with local families in need.  It was a great tangible way for young people to help hungry families without leaving campus.   There are other ways you can help at Charis too:

Host a Food Drive

A food drive at your church, neighborhood, or school can reach many, many people in need. Charis supplies information, flyers, and barrels to collect the food contributions. We keep it simple so the emphasis is on helping people in need.

Deliver Food

To deliver boxes of food, volunteers from local churches come together on Saturday’s. A couple of adults or a family with kids picks up the food boxes and household information, including maps, for each home they will visit. Recipients have pledged to remain home until the food box arrives.   Along with the box of food, volunteers offer their friendship, encouragement, and prayers. Interaction is both informal and respectful.


Find out more – 615-373-1261 –