They are highly trained, passionate, professional, dedicated, and know their students inside and out. To place them in positions for afterschool programs is a no-brainer!
Yet even though school professionals have what it takes to be effective during the school day, they still need professional development to help them become just as effective—if not more!—after school.
The opportunity for afterschool programming to make an impact on students in a different way is vast.
Take Carlos, for example. His parents struggle each morning to get him ready and excited for school. At school, he is disengaged and unhappy. We all know too well that this lack of motivation can lead to not-so-smart choices. So, Carlos joins the afterschool program. During this time, he gets to experience his teachers in a different way: They are more relaxed and they plan fun, engaging activities. Each day, Carlos looks forward to PwrHrs, and his attitude towards school and his teachers improves.
A key point to Carlos's experience: His afterschool teachers had the freedom and training to teach in a way that would engage him in the activities. Teachers and school staff have the opportunity to learn the interests and strengths of their students that might not be apparent or noticeable during the school day. Carlos' teachers were able to build stronger relationships during the afterschool program.
Afterschool programming is not the same as school-day programming!
We need to provide professional development opportunities that help all afterschool professionals—including certified teachers—understand the different role afterschool programs play in a child's education and life. From focusing on relationships to social-emotional learning to developing games and activities that don't have to be aligned to any state standards but meet the student's individual needs, afterschool teachers are able to connect with students in a way that is different from how they relate to students in the school day.
So, how do we train our afterschool professionals?
At YouthPower365, we train our PwrHrs staff in the following ways to set each one up for success:
• Mandatory pre-work trainings. We bring all our afterschool educators together before programming begins. This provides a platform to get everyone on the same page, hear the same message, and give them an opportunity to think about what they can do to make the afterschool experience a great one for ALL participants.
• Model lessons. We try to model lessons and activities for all our afterschool instructors. This gives them an opportunity to see how it can look different from the school day.
• Co-teach. New employees shadow seasoned afterschool professionals, before they run their own session.
• Online trainings. There are a lot of great opportunities online. It is important to make sure whatever you recommend fits with your program's mission and objectives.
Whether you hire certified teachers, school employees, part-time staff or volunteers, it is important to provide PD that helps everyone understand what your program is trying to achieve.
People bring experience, passion and ideas that will enhance your program. It is our job as leaders to make it the best experience for the kids.
Written by Peter Barclay, Assistant Director of Program, and Nicole Bentzoni, PwrHrs Coordinator, YouthPower365.