Professional Development

NAA publishes fresh, new content every week covering a wide variety of topics related to the field of aftershool. In addition, NAA offers a variety of opportunities for virtual professional development (PD) through meaningful content, conversations and connections. Click here to see full descriptions of virtual PD offerings.

Instilling a Work Ethic in the Emergent Afterschool Workforce

Friday, 23 August 2013 06:08

Have you ever been asked to write a letter of recommendation for an employee or co-worker yet privately had reservations? You think they should know the right things to do, but they fail to do them adequately. Even though they possess some admirable skills, they lack the core values of a positive work ethic that every employer hopes to find when interviewing and hiring.

If you've been in that situation, or if you feel that, in general, your staff's work ethic needs improvement, it is advisable to take time to talk about, teach, and clarify the specifics of what you expect from every employee. Use this leadership lesson as guide for developing "teaching conversations" about work ethic values.


Professionalism implies that you look your best. Afterschool professionals value fashion and proper appearance, including attire, hair styling, hygiene, and use of makeup. Knowing how to dress for success is just as important to be demonstrated by those in hourly, frontline staff positions as it is by the boss. Professionals display manners, courtesy, and use language appropriately. Clarity and adherance to the program's dress code is crucial to development of professionalism.


It's simple. Those with a good work ethic smile and play nice. They show gratitude. They're polite. They say "please" and "thank you." An attitude is an outward display of internal views. It's where perceptions become realities. Those with a positive attitude should mentor new hires. Positive attitudes can be contagious. Develop a checklist of observable positive attitude attributes. Teach them to your staff.


It's hard to write a recommendation for tardy, unreliable employees. Nothing is more basic or foundational to a good work ethic than reliability. Yet, too many people have become accustomed to making excuses. For too many people, reliability is becoming a "yeah but" value. Program leaders shouldn't wait for infractions to occur. Teach your expectations of punctuality, dependability, and self-responsibility. Those who master the value of reliability will always be in high demand!


Initiative requires ambition. Strive to do your best and accomplish more than is expected. Model this value and others will emulate it. If you can specifically write about how an employee exhibited pride and passion in every work task, it will catch the eye of potential employers. Those with initiative don't settle for minimum standards. They soar beyond.


To gain respect, play by the rules and teach employees to do the same. Respect implies being able to show obedience, acceptance, and conformity. Workers must respect their peers, managers, students, parents, and the parameters of their contract. The development of mentoring partnerships can greatly impact efforts to instill
respect into an organization.


Employers seek workers that are honest and speak the truth. Integrity must be the foundation of every afterschool program and part of every code of conduct. There is no place for dysfunctional or antisocial individuals in the afterschool workforce.


Every job requires a specified level of requisite knowledge and competence. Those who willingly read and engage in professional development because they want to learn and continuously improve gain the highest levels of recognition. Those individuals who demonstrate the habits and ideals of a positive work ethic need never worry about a performance review. Nor will they need worry about what a supervisor will write in a recommendation. The description of their work ethic will say enough!


Ideas on How to Get Families Involved

Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

The best way to get families involved? Get them engaged with what their kids are doing. Gain their interest and make parents feel comfortable with fun and enjoyable family-centered activities.

Build a Solid Team

Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

It's not just about cooperation, its about making every team member feel valued and important. You won't be able to get everything done without a great, solid team helping you along the way. So what do you do in order to build a strong team? 

How Do You Deal With a Defiant Student?

Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

Defiant children are never fun to deal with. Know that it is a power struggle and as the program leader, you need to come out on top as the one in charge, but also keeping the child's respect. 

Ten Tips for Hiring

Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

People are key to quality, but sometimes it is hard to find the skilled individuals you're looking for. Strengthen your team with these hiring tips.

Standards for Healthy Eating and Physical Activity in Out-Of-School Time Programs

Friday, 23 August 2013 00:00

The NAA standards for healthy eating and physical activity (HEPA) are up-to-date, evidence-based, practical values that foster the best possible nutrition and physical activity outcomes for children in grades K-12 attending OST programs.

The P's of Powerful Program Performance

Friday, 16 August 2013 10:16

High quality afterschool program performance can be described in many ways. Experience and practice shows that leaders who focus on the P’s of positive performance will attain success.

Your Afterschool Staff

Wednesday, 14 August 2013 08:23

Your afterschool staff can make or break your business and we all know the childcare industry traditionally has very high turnover. The key to keeping away from this is to improve employee morale to decrease turnover as much as possible and create consistency for the program. To do this you must value, encourage, and energize your team to accomplish the center mission, vision, and direction.

New Direction in Youth Development

Wednesday, 14 August 2013 08:04

New Directions for Youth Development: Theory, Practice, and Research is a quarterly publication focusing on contemporary issues challenging the field of youth development. The journal is dedicated to bringing together everyone concerned with helping young people, including scholars, practitioners, and people from different disciplines and professions.

STEM-Year of Science

Wednesday, 14 August 2013 08:02

In a world in which STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) learning has become universally crucial, those individuals who will be able to enjoy the highest personal earnings will likely be those who possess the skills and creativity that position them as innovators and leaders. For our children and youth, increased STEM learning is imperative.

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