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I'm grateful for the opportunity to host a Master Class on the topic of Strengths Based Leadership on Wednesday, April 19th from 2:30-4:30 pm during the BOOST Conference. In nearly 20 years of learning from and working for Gallup, I can't think of a more exciting and impactful topic to share with conference attendees this spring.

Gallup research proves that people succeed when they focus on what they do best. Each person has natural patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving that can be productively applied. Knowing your unique strengths and putting them to good use not only feels good – it has been proven to meaningfully improve performance in a variety of ways, as recently summarized at Strengths-Based Employee Development: The Business Results.


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More than 15 million people have taken the Clifton StrengthsFinder assessment since it was introduced several years ago. Learning about your strengths results is certainly a great experience, but it's simply the first step in a development process that continues well into the future. Strengths-based development continues beyond the identification phase as individuals take steps to integrate their strengths awareness into the way they view themselves. From there, real behavior change results in performance improvement across a variety of life and work domains.


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This Master Class is for you if you've never learned about your own strengths and would like to take the first step. It's also for you if you've already learned your strengths and want to learn from others along the journey. We will discuss best practices from educators within the room and across the country, leading to tangible takeaways that you can apply with yourself, your colleagues, and your students!

Hope to see you on April 19th from 2:30-4:30! Click here to register! 

Author and Masterclass Facilitator: Tim Hodges

Published in Breakfast Club

The students in our programs come from diverse backgrounds and face unique challenges in navigating the world they are growing up in. It is a privilege to be their guide in this journey called life. Many of the students we have in our programs are having experiences that may be similar to the staff working in our programs. The true challenge is being able to create an environment that supports the staff and students to feel emotionally and physically safe and not just survive but thrive in spite of whatever obstacles they may face beyond the walls of the space on a campus. This challenge needs to be met by reflecting and expanding your awareness as an educator and then demonstrated through your leadership. The key is to ask yourself – What is your identity? How does that allow you to connect with your staff and your students? Do you have an implicit bias that influences your attitudes or interactions with those that differ from you? Do you lead from a place of compassion?




In looking at my own journey, I have discovered that my own identity is "under construction". My grandfather came to this country from the Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal. He worked hard in seeking the American Dream. He did not teach us the language and we were exposed to very few elements of Portuguese culture. Although there was clearly a disconnect, he always said how proud he was to be Portuguese. While my mother is Portuguese, my father is a mix. I was raised without a clear connection to my Portuguese heritage through customs and traditions and only knew that the rest of what made me who I am was a mystery. There was never a discussion about what made up my cultural heritage. I will admit that this is something I have only recently begun to delve into and reflect upon. In 2014, I was asked to be part of a group of strong talented leaders who are women of color. As the women shared their stories I realized that I have not had many of the experiences they have faced. I am fair skinned so most people cannot typically identify what my ethnic background is. I have been asked if I am Native American or Asian, and then there is the comment, "well you are white – right?" The fact that I can pass as white has sometimes afforded me privileges in my life that I have come to realize through listening to the stories of my sisters. They have experienced blatant racism and discrimination based on the color of their skin. I truly have not. Through participating in the Sisters Inspiring Change, I have deepened my journey of self-discovery. This journey of self-discovery has empowered me to encourage others to dig deep to their roots since our identity shapes who we are and allows us to connect with others. It has helped me better understand how different life experiences can be from one person to the next and understand the importance of our roles in shaping the lives of the young people we work with.

I am sharing this very personal journey to urge you to examine your level awareness and compassion. In my experience, I have witnessed that awareness when teamed with compassion can be empowering. As educators and ambassadors of youth development we have the privilege and the power to continue to support the young people in our programs and support the staff to realize and share their own cultural identity. We can do this by serving as an example to those around us and through being mindful and intentional about the environments we create for students and staff. Now, more than ever, it is important that our programs serve as a safe space for young people where they are valued, accepted and celebrated for who they are. This can only be achieved if the staff in our programs have the same opportunity. Finally it is important to remember that each one of us has the power to make a positive impact. It is imperative that we engage in reflection to identify how we as individuals can create a ripple effect that supports not just one but all.


staff support


For breakfast I had a banana & protein shake.

Published in Breakfast Club

Planning a new program or improvements to an existing program usually involves setting objectives, planning activities, and other critical tasks. In the excitement of planning something new, it can seem like a buzzkill to ask, "What could go wrong?"

team meetingSeveral months ago, I started asking this question consistently with staff teams in my division of the Ann Arbor Public Schools. We discussed it when we were planning a kick-off meeting for a district-wide initiative, when we were considering a major program change on a tight time frame, and when we were decided whether or not to cancel programs because of a forecasted snow storm. (Yes, I'm writing this in Michigan!)

I've found that staff teams benefit enormously from adding this question to the planning process. Sometimes staff have concerns but don't know exactly how or when to share them. Other times, "nay-say-ers" derail planning by peppering the conversation with all the detailed problems that could arise. Using a neutral discussion framework that's built into the planning process provides assurance to all staff that their concerns will be heard -- of course, it also helps prevent or minimize future problems.

I like using the Potential Problem Analysis (PPA) framework that's available from the non-profit TregoEd. (I work in a school district and have been trained in all four of TregoEd's collaborative decision-making tools.)

Broadly, a PPA helps you prepare for problems that could impact your program's success. It's helpful when you're implementing a new program, planning for a significant event, or making program changes.

Conducting a PPA is simple. All you need is a facilitator, your planning team, and some chart paper for recording responses.

1. First, ask the team "What could go wrong with our plans?" Ask the team to keep their answers succinct -- it's not necessary to go into every detail or repeat answers.

2. List people's answers on the chart paper, leaving space between each answer. The facilitator should let staff generate as many as they want, but don't allow the discussion to get too far out there (i.e. it's unlikely that aliens will land and disrupt the program).

3. Go back to the top of the list. For each potential problem, ask: "How could we prevent this from happening?" The answers often turn into specific action steps.

4. Return to the top of the list. Ask: "If this [potential problem] happens, what will we do to minimize the negative impact?"

5. If you end up with numerous potential problems, the team can prioritize 3-4 that are most important to prevent. Others can be worked on as time/opportunity permits.

6. For each potential problem on the short list, ask "What action steps will occur, Who will do them, and by When?"

rubic cube

I've used this process many times, sometimes as a full-blown process like what is outlined above, and sometimes just talking through the essential questions. The key thing is for the team to know ahead of time that you're going to have this conversation. This assures everyone (naysayers, too!) that there will be time to consider and plan for potential problems.

Using this simple question has improved program and event quality and decreased stress for staff at my organization. Hint: you can use it when making life decisions as well. Happy problem preventing!


For breakfast, I had an egg, turkey bacon, and cheese sandwich on an English muffin.

Published in Breakfast Club

“Everyone thinks change is a great idea, so long as they aren’t the one doing the changing.” I first heard this quote from Michael Funk, the head of California’s Expanded Learning Time Division.

I bet we can each think of a time in our professional life that we thought that everyone else should change: “If only everyone else would start doing the lessons like they are supposed to, then we could really get something done!”

I’ve got some bad news for you: if people aren’t changing, they have a good reason for doing so. And it’s not because they are lazy, or not smart enough, or a jerk. If you really want to catalyze change, you have to identify and address people’s valid concerns. Until you get clear about what those barriers are, and address them well, lasting change isn’t possible.


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The team at XPLANE has developed an awesome way to get clear about the barriers to change – a card deck! The Barriers to Change Cards list 36 common concerns that teams have when considering a change.  Ask team members to pick 2 or 3 cards that best describe their concerns, then flip them over to find which of the main types of barriers you need to address. The 36 concerns fall into six broad categories:


  • Problem Alignment – Do we have a compelling reason to change?
  • Engagement – Is everyone engaged with the thing we’re considering?
  • Interpersonal – How do people’s relationships affect the change?
  • The Unknown – Can we cope with ambiguity?
  • Solution Alignment – Do we agree on what we want to change?
  • Execution – Are we confident we have what we need to make the change stick?


Once you’ve identified the reasons why your team is resistant to change, you can take steps to address these barriers, whether by sharing more information about the plan, making it clear what will be better in the future, or marshaling resources you need.

We’ve used the decks with our own team to identify our team members’ concerns about upcoming changes to our internal company policies. We plan to use the Barriers to Change Cards with our clients to help them troubleshoot new initiatives.


For breakfast, I had a whole wheat English muffin with peanut butter. 

Published in Breakfast Club

These last few days have not been normal. I have spent my morning breaking up political fights. Not in Washington, not in my community or at a protest, but in my K-5 before and after school program. And that breaks my heart.

The day after the election, my kids were either devastated or elated as they walked through my door, with only a few falling somewhere in between. On one side, this in itself makes me proud. Proud that we are encouraging our kids, no matter the age, to be a part of the political process. But the other side of me, the larger side, is heartbroken that this election has not only divided us, this beautiful country that I love, but our kids as well.

As I thought through my morning and the many similar mornings and afternoons to come, this is what I shared with my staff. It is my hope that we take this opportunity to grow our little learners and instill in them values that they can use in the years to come:

The coming days are going to be interesting days at Adventure Club. Just as you are all probably wrestling through a variety of emotions as you process the results of the Presidential Election, our kids are as well. We're asking them to grasp some pretty big ideas with some still growing brains... some concepts that are hard for even us to work through. This morning, I was struck by the amount of students affected in some way by the election, with very few of them coming in without an opinion.

As I've thought through how to best handle the coming days, these are the thoughts I am left with. I appreciate in advance your ability to set aside your personal opinions for the good of the group. May we learn these lessons alongside our kids, as we continue to move forward through our year and the years to come.

Our kids are going to have questions. And that's ok. Let's teach them how to ask them respectfully, how to seek solutions to the issues they see as ongoing problems, and how to advocate for what they believe in.

Our kids are going to have fears. And that's ok. Let's take this time to reassure them that school is a safe place for them to be the unique individuals that they are. That we will continue to support them as they go through life.


(Some of) our kids are going to be sad or upset. That's ok. Emotions are always valid and ok to feel. Let's share with our kids that the Presidential Election was actually one of many elections that took place. That we have a system of checks and balances in our government that doesn't allow for any one person to have ultimate control.

(Some of) our kids are going to be happy. That's ok. Let's teach them to win gracefully, to understand that not everyone has the same views, and that the right to disagree is a good thing – it can challenge and grow us to hear things from a different perspective.

Our kids are going to say things that you disagree with. Let's show them the value in calm responses, and how it looks to respectfully disagree without trying to change their minds. Let's engage in forward-thinking conversations as we set the example for what we want their conversations with each other to look like.

Today is going to be an interesting day at Adventure Club. But interesting is not always bad. Feel free to send kids my way if you reach a point where the conversation turns in a way that makes you uncomfortable or is something that you don't know how to handle. I can't guarantee that I have all the answers, but I can guarantee that I'll listen, and that's sometimes all that a person needs.

Here's to our Adventure Club community growing closer despite the divisive ideals our kiddos may walk in with. Here's to our community respecting and valuing the opinions of others even if they are different than our own. And here's to us, the adults, remembering that if we don't have it all together, there's no way our kids will.


For breakfast, I had coffee with a donut.  

Image Credit

Published in Breakfast Club

Back in January I texted "Things just got real" to my supervisor. You see I had been hearing about the current challenges with finding qualified staff from various people throughout the state of California but I personally hadn't been impacted by it. Then things changed, we needed to put my youngest son in the fee-based afterschool program on his campus (not the program I work for). When I went in to sign him up they told me they would have to put him on the waiting list. What! There has never been a waiting list before? They were experiencing the same staff shortage I had heard so much about earlier in the year. Fast forward two months- we are still on the waiting list. We are exhausting our playdates, relatives, and "mom network" connections but he still remains #6 on their list.

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I started thinking about why I got into the afterschool/school age care field. Quite honestly, it was because I needed something to do the 9 months out of the year I wasn't working at camp. At no point did I actually see my part time, college job as a career-with a pathway. But then one day it happened. It became my fulltime job and passion. This got me thinking about the current situation.

Maybe it is because of the fragmenting of job titles - Just in my own tenure I was a group leader, rec leader, teacher, and youth worker. And that doesn't include management titles- supervisor, director, center manager, and lead. What job title do you look for? Are your staff required to meet district employee qualifications, Title 22, and/or Title 5? With the diversity of regulations, titles, and qualifications can make it difficult to navigate the classifieds. 

Maybe it is because the "field" is a broad patchwork - Speaking from the California perspective, this field is inclusive of a variety of programs. State funded services through After School Education and Safety funds, 21st CCLC funds, General Childcare, and Alternative Payment programs are just the start. There are programs that are parent fee-based, city/county funded services, community based providers, and private after school enrichment programs. Phew, that is just the funding. Then you have to consider are you licensed through Health and Human Services or licensed-exempt. Oh, and don't forget summer camps and summer learning programs. I appreciate the depth and breadth of services available to children and families afterschool and I realize "one size does not fit all" but how can we streamline the concept while still providing diverse services.

Maybe it is because there a collection of names to describe the services provided - Is it out of school time, expanded learning, extended learning, afterschool (and before too), care. Yes, I see that each definition has its nuances that are impacted by legislation and funding but how do you describe it to a person outside of the field.

Maybe it is because many people work in this field as a "Pathway to a career" not a career pathway - Many staff get into this field as a way of getting experience working with children and youth, a way to build their resume for a classroom teaching position. Yes our field gives people the opportunity to work with groups of children and create & present activities but we are more than just a field work or classroom management experience. How many people start their schooling and work experience with the goal of working in afterschool or out of school time? I happen to be lucky and the agency I work for has multiple career pathways that support a staff member's development based on their goals, seeing afterschool as a full time, long term career.

I really don't have any answers to these questions but I do think it is time we open a dialogue. Maybe it is time to unite the diverse field to create a career path that includes shared job titles, education, and experience. It is time to make the field a career of choice not a stepping stone to another career.

I invite you to share your strategies for uniting the field and advocating for the whole. Please use the social media links in Facebook and Twitter to share your thoughts on this subject.

(Opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author and not her employer).


For breakfast, I made a veggie egg scramble and a whole wheat English muffin with marmalade.


Published in Breakfast Club

This is a two-part blog series focused on practical student recruitment strategies. This first installment features five tips and five more tips will be shared on Friday. 


Here are some common strategies when dealing with recruiting students for your program. Remember, you HAVE to be comfortable with the idea of the numbers game if you are going to succeed in achieving your attendance goals. Great programs worry about quality AND quantity.

The New Yorker wrote an article shortly after the 2008 presidential campaign entitled "Battle Plans." It more or less dissected how then Senator Barack Obama won the Presidency. In the quote below, we see that behind the great campaign message of "HOPE," there were entire teams dedicated to looking at hard data, the "numbers," that would ultimately make the difference.

"You can have the most inspirational candidate, you can have the best organizing philosophy in the world, but if you can't organize your data to take advantage of it and get lists in front of the canvassers and take these volunteers and use it in a smart way and figure out who it is we're going to talk to—I mean, the rest of it is all pointless."
-John Carson, Field Director / The Obama Campaign of '08

#1: It's all about your staff

So choose wisely. There is no shortcut to this. You must do everything in your power to find the right people. This means that you are meeting and talking to people throughout the year. Talk to your best program leaders and ask if they have friends that want to make a difference. Think ahead and get a handle as to when your local universities finish the school year. Most semester schools finish in May, so you should be visiting career centers during Spring Break to make your pitch and post flyers in college career centers.

I know it is difficult to talk to someone in March-April about a part-time job in August-September. You can always visit some of the local summer camps to talk to camp directors about hiring their staff once the summer camp season is over. I always say that the "math is in the relationships." Great staff connect with students, which then keeps them coming, which in turn keeps your dosage healthy and attendance steady climbing!

Added bonus: Great staff also create great, positive energy. They are a centrifugal force that draws people in. Also remember that great energy does not necessarily mean someone is hype all the time. It just means that their mind and body are engaged and self-aware of the influence they have.

girl - wonder

#2: Design after the consumer needs/requests

Your program design must match the true interests of your student body. As a matter of fact, that should be driving the type of people you hire. There have been a number of times that I observe staff struggling with numbers and would then ask them, "Are you offering what your kids are looking for?" The first comeback is, "I would, but I don't know where or how to hire someone like that." Your classes must reflect student interests. This might sound blasphemous, but kids don't come to program because of our national initiatives (I'm looking around as I say that!). But, the reality is that our national priorities are the benefits of our program, not the features. I've seen students run up to staff asking for a certain type of class to be offered. The answer has often times been, "If you want that class, give me 10 more students and I promise I will find someone or someway to teach it!"

#3: Build it up and then break it down to its smallest element

When it comes to numbers, you CANNOT get around the issue of establishing a goal for whatever number you agree on. If it's 120 students per day, don't quit on that number. Don't back down and say that it's demoralizing because your team will never hit it. Set that target and then ask each individual program leader on your campus to contribute to that number. Here is an example:

  • You have five program leaders.
  • Each commits to having 10 students sign up for their class during sign up or "rush week."
  • That's 50 students to start the session. You can build great culture with 10!
  • I always say that 10 students is about where you want to be. There's something about double digits. If you have a program leader that is content with 6-7 students coming every week, you have hired and have chosen to retain the wrong person!

The goal here is ownership. The site coordinator or program manager cannot be the only ones that feel the pressure of numbers. Your group of program leaders should talk every week about how they plan to add 1-2 students per week over an 8 to 10-week session. Sounds reasonable to me. Remember, do not quit on the big number. Keep building towards it. Have a campaign. Make t-shirts that show the number in a creative way.

#4: Be shameless and fearless

ABC! Always be closing with everyone. If you're a site coordinator, you're trying to ask teachers for referrals to your program. You are looking for additional activities that take place on campus that you could provide support with or piggy back on. Let people know you are on the campus and are willing and able to be the solution. The shy or reluctant leader does not do well in these situations. If you are insecure about the value of your program, get some help and get some perspective. I worked in the public relations industry for many years. As a junior account executive, I always felt that I was begging journalists to write about my clients, products, or services. My boss always used to say, "Journalists have 24 hours of news and stories they need to fill. They need you more than you need them." Think about that in regards to your program.

red school door

#5: Hire or train someone to design your marketing materials

I cannot overstate how critical this is! This was literally our bread and butter. You need eye catching design to draw in your students. If Nike needs to do that to stay ahead of the game, imagine you and me? There are so many resources online now that you can create eye-popping promotional materials in no time.

Look especially at the style of your class selection forms. This is the document that usually has all the classes that your kids can choose. That is the doorway into the program. If that doesn't excite you as a student. If the design does not entice kids to take a peek at your program, you are not going to have success with the rest!


Be sure to visit the blog on Friday for five more tips on student recruitment for out-of-school time and expanded learning programs. 

Published in Breakfast Club

Treat your staff like children.

Do you disagree with this statement? Is this notion shocking to you?

We give children quality supervision and boundaries. We empower them to make decisions, and hold them accountable for their choices. We help them develop their skills. We give them feedback on their performance. We do the same with our staff. It comes from a place of love. Leadership is not about love – it is love. We love our staff like we love our children. We genuinely care about them. We want them to be happy. We love them enough to accept them where they are when we hire them, and help them get better. We facilitate their positive development.

Today, I am writing to give you some tips about giving feedback to your staff. This is not about "positive and negative" feedback. It is about FACILITATIVE feedback. Facilitative feedback makes it easier for your followers to continually improve and develop their skills. It is all about creating a culture of positivity, boundaries, and continuous improvement. It is all about learning lessons from our mistakes. It is about creating a culture where accountability for our behavior allows us to empower our people to act and drives continuous quality improvement.

If you have ever attended one of our workshops, you know I love acronyms. So, I created one to help you remember a formula for providing feedback. The acronym is F.O.C.U.S. – which is great because providing great feedback is all about how we FOCUS on issues, not on personalities; how we FOCUS on the future; how we FOCUS on results; and how we FOCUS on facilitating the positive development of people.


F = First Things First

  • First - begin with yourself. Crave and encourage feedback of your own performance.
  • First - begin with love. Love others enough to facilitate their development.
  • First - begin with positivity. Presume positive intentions. Facilitate positive growth.
  • First - script it out. Don't wing it. Plan for what you will say, how you will say it, and where you will say it.
  • First - plan for emotional safety and confidentiality.
  • First - set the stage for success. Describe how and how often you will provide feedback.

O = Ongoing

  • Be timely. The more feedback you provide, the easier it is to give corrective feedback.
  • Provide feedback as close to the "point of performance" as possible. Especially when an undesirable behavior or mistake happens, take time to relax and think about it. A.S.A.R. = As Soon As Ready/Reasonable.
  • Don't "gunny sack" issues - collecting multiple issues that you can dump on them.
  • Regularly schedule your feedback - weekly, biweekly, or even monthly.
  • When feedback is ongoing, it does not cause fear and dread.

C = Clear, Concise, Concrete

  • Be CLEAR - specific, precise, objective, & descriptive. As if captured on camera.Don't be "wishy-washy." Don't "sugar coat" it.
  • Be CONCISE - keep it brief. Limit your focus to a single or a few items. Don't beat around the bush. Get right to it. Keep it short and simple.
  • Be CONCRETE - make it real and relevant. Say why it is a problem or effective.
    • I noticed X. Here's what I thought/felt about it ...
    • ... and these are the consequences to you, the kids, the program ...
    • When you do X, here's what happens (positive outcomes). Keep it up!
    • When you do X, here's what happens. What can you do to change that?
    • U= Understanding
  • Now let them talk. Don't assume you know everything. Ask questions. Ask for their thoughts or their response.Clarify. Tell me more about that. What do you mean when you say that? Examples?
    • I noticed X. Here's what I thought about it.
    • What is YOUR take on this? What do you think? What are your thoughts?
    • Pay attention to their body language and biofeedback (breathing, posture, tension).
    • Ask for their ideas or how they might improve the situation.
    • Ask how they learned to do that great thing, or what great outcomes they might expect. How do the kids react to this? Do you think other adults in their lives do this?
  • Confirm. What I'm hearing you say is ... So your suggestion is ... Is that right?

S = Strategy

  • Decide on a course of action and get buy in for the solution.
  • Frame to get buy in. Explain the relevancy of changing a behavior or learning a skill.
  • Answer - WIIFM? What's In It For Me?
  • Request explicit change of behavior (for opportunities).
  • The behavior I am seeing isWhat I need to see is  Y.
  • This _____ has worked for me or for others in similar situations. What do you think?
  • Let's talk about the plan. When this situation happens again, what will you do?
  • Is this something you can commit to doing?
  • Let's summarize...End with their commitment and your consequence of recurrence. Don't end with a warm fuzzy, a hug, or some praise.
    • What are YOU agreeing to do?
    • OK. If you do NOT do this, the consequence will be _____. The END.
  • Avoid the B.S. = the Baloney Sandwich. This is confusing. This is unnecessary if you are providing ongoing reinforcing feedback.
  • Follow up. Schedule a follow up meeting on the calendar.
    • Let them know you noticed them doing it right.
    • John... We talked yesterday about enforcing the rules and expectations. How has this been going? I'm asking this because I noticed kids in your group climbing on the tables while you were supervising. It would be helpful to know what is preventing you from doing what we talked about. Let's go over this again, I want to be sure you understand the consequences to your employment if this continues.
    • Provide the consequence you promised.

Then the Facilitative Feedback Flywheel begins again, and again, and again and the continuous quality improvement process is institutionalized and becomes a permanent part of the culture of your workplace.

For breakfast today I had a large glass of iced coffee and some green chile stew.

Published in Breakfast Club

I remember being asked in a past job interview to think about my favorite manager and the qualities that made them my favorite.

At the time, I realized I didn't really have a model for the perfect manager and it was a stretch to think of a favorite one. It wasn't necessarily that all of them were bad, but there wasn't an immediate person that came to mind.

I then proceeded to describe my "favorite manager" who was really just an ideal of a person I dreamed up in my head. Then it dawned on me that it would be incredible to be that type of person and/or work with that kind of person.

Simon-Sinek-to-inspire-1I've watched Ted Talks from Simon Sinek countless times, but every time I go back to the same thought. I think about the fact that not many people have ever even met a leader or have a favorite manager. It is alarming to think most people may never even get to encounter a leader. And yes, Simon says leadership is not a rank so I shouldn't only look to managers, but I do feel people in those higher roles have an opportunity to be an example to others. As they work to be a leader, the team is inspired to become a leader too.

There are so many thoughts on leadership and the characteristics, but one that really stood out was from Simon Sinek's talk Why Good Leaders Make You Feel Safe.

Safety, what a concept.

I think back to all the times I felt intimidated, not worthy enough and all of these uncomfortable feelings around people in a "leadership role." I never felt empowered because it just seemed as if I was simply on the receiving end of a pay stub instead of feeling like an important contributor to the team.

Wouldn't it be great if they made me feel like I was an asset? Or if they believed in my lifelong dreams? I would've felt empowered and taken on a stronger leadership role because I saw someone believing in me.

As cheesy as it sounds, it makes me hopeful when I listen to Simon Sinek's talks or read his quotes about feeling fulfilled going home from work and that leadership is something everyone can encompass.

It makes me envision a world where everyone immediately thinks of his or her favorite manager. A world where everyone has a chance to feel heard in the workplace and where everyone leaves at the end of the day full of inspiration. Most importantly, I am hopeful for a world where everyone works in a place that feels safe. Everyone deserves to know or work for a leader AND feel safe.

This morning I had a coffee from my new Keurig and an apple cereal bar from Trader Joe's.

Published in Breakfast Club

Asia Society and BOOST Collaborative are partnering to create a series of blogs on global learning in out-of-school time.

Community organizations incorporate global learning into their afterschool programs in a number of ways. Here, Asia Society's Heather Loewecke interviews Katie Aylwin and Amanda Wells from WHEDco, an organization committed to building a sustainable Bronx, to learn how they have included global components across their afterschool program from the mission to activities to staffing practices. This entry was originally posted on EdWeek's Global Learning Blog.

Prioritizing Global Education
Heather: How does global learning fit in to WHEDco's afterschool mission and approach?

Katie: Our afterschool mission is to provide a safe environment for students where they can develop positive attitudes about cultural, artistic, intellectual, and academic pursuits and that through the positive experiences they have with us, they will learn to have healthy social interactions and develop leadership skills and a sense of responsibility. In this [South Bronx] community, we have a growing West African population, a very large Latin American population, and an emerging Southeast Asian population. These different cultures blend together at our English-Spanish dual-language host school. It's easy for families to feel marginalized. We work hard to create an environment in which families and students feel supported emotionally, culturally, and academically. The diversity in the community allows for an easy and important entry point into global learning. We try to be as respectful and understanding as possible and educate ourselves and the staff about different cultures and perspectives in our community.

Amanda: We made global education a priority in our afterschool program because one of our primary roles is to expose youth to opportunities and experiences they otherwise would not have. We are located in one of the poorest Congressional districts in the country, so while the community is becoming increasingly diverse, the kids and families often stay around the institutions in their neighborhood and don't always get a broader world view as a product of their circumstances. We need to prepare ALL youth for the globalized world we live in.

Global is Engaging
Heather: What are examples of global learning activities you do during afterschool?

Amanda: We try to integrate it into everything we do. One, we make it an obvious part of our program offerings: We have Latin Percussion and West African Dance. Two, we choose curricula that allow us to integrate global learning into all content areas. All students have English Language Arts (ELA) two times a week, so we choose books about global issues and diverse populations. We use KidzLit, for example, which has a set of books about different cultures and communities. One STEM curriculum we use is Engineering Everywhere. Each unit focuses on a different part of the world. For example, the 4th and 5th graders last year had to engineer earthquake resistant buildings, and they used the earthquake in Haiti as a jumping off point for that investigation. Third, we have two specific global learning programs: PASE Explorers and Project STEP. In Explorers, youth focus on their local community first because it's the world right in front of them: they start with their school, then community, then broaden to the entire city by looking at who is represented there.

Katie: Project STEP is our middle school social justice program. Participants learn about diversity and human rights, things going on at the UN, climate, neighborhood issues—the focus is on students' thinking about themselves as agents of change and giving them a voice in their community, their block, their school—wherever they envision. They have been looking at The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, breaking down each human right and ways they impact students—for example, what it means to say that everyone should have access to food, housing, healthcare, and education and what that looks like for everyone [around the world]. It helps to connect students to global issues and discuss which rights should be given to every human being in the world regardless of income, living situation, family structure, or race. For their projects, they've transferred some of what they've learned into workshops on bullying for younger students to help them explore [how they treat each other].

Infrastructure and Supports
Heather: What infrastructure do you have in place, such as staff hiring and training practices, policies, or curriculum supports, to support high-quality global learning in your program?

Amanda: We look for very skilled facilitators. We hire specialists to run specific activities like ELA and Project STEP. Those people tend to have higher levels of education and teaching experience in both formal and informal settings [than non-specialist staff]. Some specialists have led social justice projects or taught in other countries. All staff attend trainings outside of the agency to learn best practices and exchange ideas. Project Explorers staff attend specialized trainings for that program.

Katie: And, we emphasize that all staff should make global connections [in their lessons]. Also, during staff orientations we are explicit that we only practice acceptance and tolerance, and if something comes up that people are uncomfortable with or that they are not aware of or that they don't know how to answer, it's okay to say they don't know. Staff are encouraged to bring those questions and issues to supervisors and ask how to address them.

Practical Advice
Heather: What advice do you have for afterschool programs to help them with global learning?

Amanda: Decide it's going to be institutionalized at your program. For curriculum-based efforts, make the connection to your immediate community first. Kids learn developmentally, so start with what is right in front of them, and then help them make the leap to global issues. Also, take advantage of all the professional development out there because it's really about building staff confidence to have these conversations [with youth].

For breakfast, Heather had a cup of coffee with toast and a soft boiled egg.

Katie is the senior director of education and youth development and Amanda is the education coordinator at PS/IS 218 afterschool program for WHEDco. Heather is the senior program manager for afterschool and youth leadership initiatives at Asia Society. Follow WHEDco and Asia Society on Twitter.

Published in Breakfast Club
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