Professional Development

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How to Leverage Relationships for Learning

The National AfterSchool Association recently published the article "Reading is a Way to Learn."

The article shared that personal and professional development is not about luck. It also imparted wisdom from a Charles Tremendous Jones quote:

"The only difference between who you are today and the person you will be in five years will come from the books you read and the people you associate with."

Two simple ideas: Reading and relationships.

Let's talk about relationships.

As afterschool professionals and leaders, we know relationships are important in youth development—but how about in our own development? Strong professionals and leaders participate in relational learning. This learning is critical and is one of the most powerful levers to build our knowledge and skills.

Successful leaders surround themselves with great people and other leaders—people who can challenge and encourage their thinking, actions, and impact. People shape us as much as we shape them. Successful professionals and leaders ensure they are shaped by people who have demonstrated their competence and character.

Where do you find these people and how do you leverage relationships for learning?

Use the ideas for reading from 4 Easy Technology Tips to Support Your Own PD to find an author you like. Reach out to them, follow and engage with them on social media, meet others that like the author, ask a question or start a conversation, and join a social media group. Do the same with people you meet as part of professional associations like NAA and its affiliates or at the NAA Annual Convention. Maybe combine both by starting a book club for reading books on personal and professional development.

You become like the people you spend your time with, so spend time with people you want to be more like.

Stay tuned for a future article that includes member tips on where to meet people that will positively impact your learning!

Have an idea to share about where to find like-minded people to network with and learn from? Please share with us via so we may share with others.

Contributed by Heidi Ham, NAA's VP of Programs and Strategy and Lifelong Learner.