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January 4, 2022

Accelerated learning rules all during this academic year. Place your students on their right-sized thrones with tips from Y4Y’s new Click & Go on homework and tutoring sessions and Human Resources course. But partnering with the school day doesn’t end with academics! Your program also has agency to address student health and wellness as their school days are jam-packed with other duties. Ensure that your palace of learning is perfectly appointed for whole child support for the rest of the program year with help from Y4Y’s crown jewels.

The Data in Your Kingdom

Updated Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) measures for 21st CCLC have you keenly aware of the importance of data in your community. You can glimpse those updated measures in Chapter 2 of the Introduction Section of Y4Y’s updated course, Introduction to 21st CCLCs. The data you captured at the outset of this program year should be informing how you structure your homework and tutoring time to be sure you support the school day with accelerated learning. But some midyear checks might have you considering a little restructuring. Go back to the Y4Y Five Key Strategies tool and Homework Help vs. Tutoring tool for the basics, beginning with what your staffing should look like.

The Right Hand of the Throne

If you’re going to place each student on their right-sized throne of learning, the staff member who sits by their side will make all the difference. Taking tips from the mini-lesson on what your staff numbers and qualifications need to be, consult the Y4Y Human Resources Planning Checklist for guidance on possible midyear hires, or better still, your summer program planning. If you have new leaders who have their own learning curves to accelerate, the staff training on conducting an effective interview is a great place to start. In 21st CCLC programs, you can never lower those shields against turnover! Also train leaders on employee retention to ensure continuity for student learning.

A Royal Wedding

The school-day partnership your 21st CCLC program enjoys is always going to be at the heart of your program’s success. You’ll need to satisfy those student data needs, communicate about homework, and access school-day staff and academic resources when you consider that program success is measured, in part, by students’ school-day success. Y4Y offers many more tools to build and strengthen this relationship, whether you’re part of the fabric of your school district or a community-based organization still proving your worth. Remember: In out-of-school time, you have the unique opportunity to support other aspects of student success. But it can’t be done alone. Partner on student health and wellness and understand everyone’s roles and responsibilities as you align social and emotional learning goals with school-day initiatives.

Her/His Royal Highness

The students in your program may not have many opportunities in life to feel special. At the end of the day, if your 21st CCLC program accomplishes nothing else, building self-esteem, contributing to healthy growth and development, and helping students see that you will always treat them with the dignity of royalty can still make or break the long-term outcomes for these children you cherish. Y4Y offers many resources to help you implement these less tangible goals, including a new course on stages of child and adolescent development, which includes training on understanding development and connecting with children. Plus, the course on creating a positive learning environment includes quick tips for implementing basic strategies.

Beloved Princess Diana said of her role in the royal family, “Nothing brings me more happiness than to help the most vulnerable people in society.” Never forget that you are royalty, too. Your place in your 21st CCLC program may carry great duty, but it also offers great rewards.

 



December 16, 2021

Imposter Syndrome — the feeling that you don’t belong in the environment you’ve worked toward — is very real and seems to impact women and minorities most. Some of the self-doubt professionals feel is reinforced by memories of the messaging they received — both direct and indirect — from the adults who helped to shape their lives. This realization can be both scary and exciting as you consider the power you have in the lives of your students. Use tools from several courses for tips on how you can turn the tables on imposter syndrome and set your students up for success in any field.

Relationships Are the Root

The stronger your relationship is with your students, the more weight your words will carry with them. Most of us can remember at least one teacher with a reputation for meanness. And while, as adults, we recognize it could not have been easy to be on the receiving end of that meanness, it was likely easier to live with than even slightly disappointing a cherished mentor. To lay the groundwork for strong connections with your students, Y4Y offers a staff Training to Go, Building Relationships, and a brand-new training that takes childhood development into account: Understanding Development and Connecting With Children. Also check out Strategies for Creating a Positive Learning Environment, and take an active role in team-building activities.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

One educator-turned-mom blogger, Shelly Stasney, cites three psychological and child development theories that reinforce the idea that, as a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy, children will become what you say they are. These theories are echoed in the research compiled in the “theories” tool in Y4Y’s Stages of Child and Adolescent Development course. In fact, a course matrix shows that children as young as four years old are forming new images of themselves based on how others view them. The basics of social and emotional learning also remind us that the first and most fundamental skill is self-awareness, so if your program is offering any social and emotional learning skill-building, you’re actively opening students up to taking in and taking on your perspective of who they are. As you consider the students in your program who may be more vulnerable as adults to imposter syndrome, you can use this awesome “power” to build up those little psyches. Every challenge is an opportunity for honest praise. If a child displays:

  • Disruptive behavior, say “I love that you have so much enthusiasm that it’s hard to wait your turn!”
  • Shyness, say “I can tell you have some powerful thinking going on in there!”
  • Self-doubt, say “I believe in you! Want to know why? Because I’ve seen you accomplish amazing things like coming to the program on time every single day all year. You might say that’s easy, but not everyone does it!”
  • Discomfort with anything academic, say “Using your mind is mostly about problem solving. Remember what a great job you did at problem solving when there weren’t enough kids to play a game of basketball? We’re ALL using our brain power every day!”

Passive Imagery

Even if you’ve built trust and actively given positive, personalized messages to your students, there’s only so much you can do about the world outside your program. Be sure to include lots of passive, diverse imagery in your program space and materials. Invite guest speakers that “look like” your students, such as a female surgeon, a college professor from the inner city or an attorney who uses a wheelchair. And teach students to “think big” when it comes to imagining their futures. Y4Y’s newly updated Career Pathways for Students course offers many tools like the Career Pathways Activity Design Guidebook to help students head imposter syndrome off at the pass by envisioning those futures from a young age.

Although you may be focusing efforts on acceleration of learning and general academics, don’t lose sight of the opportunity to expose your students to real-world careers in ways that help them to see themselves there. Not sure where to start? Check these Y4Y courses for activities that connect students to a variety of professions:

Activist Buckminster Fuller once said, “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” In your 21st CCLC program, you have the power to build a new generation of diverse professionals who won’t just do amazing things, but feel it was always their destiny.

 



December 16, 2021

Every student is a wonder. As you get to know your students through the program year (or years), you may marvel at each child’s uniqueness. Maybe one student tells you every day why he picked out the T-shirt he’s wearing. Another gives away that she’s fibbing when she does a little spin on her toes. While you celebrate the traits and habits that make up their individuality, human nature leads us to look for those things that also unite us — those patterns that give us the comfort of predictability. Y4Y’s new course on the stages of child and adolescent development (SCAD) helps you see both sides of the coin: predictable aspects of human development as well as individual variations.

An Evolving Field

Human development is an evolving field. Researchers regularly gain new insights about what it means to go from entering this world to leaving it, identifying those things that are fairly consistent among us and where variations may occur. The research brief that accompanies the new course summarizes those insights and helps you see how theories built on one another over time. The course’s “at-a-glance” tool provides an overview of child and adolescent development and the Y4Y course.

Areas and Stages

Most experts agree on the practice of treating development as something that can logically be broken into chronological phases or stages, even if experts don’t always agree on how many stages there are or where the lines of demarcation belong. In the Y4Y course, infancy refers to birth to age 3, early childhood ages 3-6, middle childhood ages 6-9, late childhood/early adolescence ages 9-12, middle adolescence ages 12-15 and late adolescence ages 15-18. For each stage, the course addresses three basic areas of development: physical, social and emotional, and cognitive. A development matrix forms when you consider milestones — or standard developmental accomplishments — for each stage and area of development. Understanding this matrix can help you recognize when a child’s developmental path diverges with that of their peers, decide if it’s cause for concern and take appropriate action.

More to the Story

Be sure to check out the full complement of tools with Y4Y’s Stages of Child and Adolescent Development course.

  • The Planning Checklist will walk you through steps to include as your program considers how child and adolescent development will be addressed.
  • The Identifying and Supporting Learning Styles tool will expand your understanding of some characteristics that make students different from one another.
  • The Sample Caregiver Survey will help you partner with families in setting individualized goals for their children. Use this tool in conjunction with your Individualized Observation Log for students in early childhood, middle childhood or late childhood.
  • Companions to these goal/observation tools as students progress through adolescence and take ownership of their own goals are Y4Y’s student self-assessments for early and late adolescence.
  • In light of the threat to healthy development that too much screen time can pose, check out the Screen Time Alternatives tool.

Three staff Trainings to Go are also available with this course:

  1. Building a Strong Program Team: Focus on Child and Adolescent Development 
  • Reflect on stages of child development from birth to adolescence in four areas: physical, cognitive, social and emotional.​ 
  • Understand that even within a peer group, students can be at different points of development and therefore respond differently to their environment.​ 
  • Explore the advantages of having team members attuned to the various elements of child and adolescent development.​ 
  • Gain strategies for recruiting and retaining a well-rounded team to support your students’ development. 
  1. Partnering With Families for Healthy Child Development 
  • Reflect on how programs can support healthy child and adolescent development in four areas.​ 
  • Learn strategies for collaborating and communicating with families.​ 
  • Consider families’ roles in supporting the healthy development of students your program.
  • Develop mission statements that reflect a commitment to partnering with families to support students’ development. 
  1. Understanding Development and Connecting With Children 
  • Discuss why it’s important for students to feel connected to the adults in your program.​ 
  • Examine social-emotional development from early childhood through adolescence.​ 
  • Reflect the keys to any healthy human relationship.​ 
  • Identify strategies for building positive, nurturing relationships with children of different ages.​ 

It can be exciting to learn just how much individuality is baked into healthy child and adolescent development. Learning about standard milestones doesn’t mean that you’re only celebrating student uniformity. Instead, you’ll be better positioned to help each student on their own path to developing into healthy grown individuals, inside and out.

 



December 15, 2021

As humans with an instinct for survival, we’re “wired” to look for problems, concerns and barriers. For decades, education has focused on identifying each student’s weaknesses and sought to strengthen student performance in those areas. But does this mean generations have identified themselves by the things that trip them up? Are your 21st CCLC students at particular risk of this when the very legislation that serves as the basis for your funding includes language like “underperforming?” How can you flip the coin on deficit thinking in your program to help your students not only survive but thrive? You can start by demonstrating your commitment to helping all students discover their gifts, develop their skills, and perform to their full potential. This asset-based approach places students (not their weaknesses) front and center.

Feeling or Focus?

Scientific studies demonstrate that practicing gratitude improves everything from sleep to physical and mental health to relationships, self-esteem and beyond. While gratitude is an individual mindset and practice centered on life’s positives, it’s easy to see how asset-based thinking in education is a systemwide extension of this principle. While your 21st CCLC program may not have “feelings” of gratitude, the studies say it’s the practice of gratitude that yields results. When you think of this shift toward intentionality, you can appreciate that the results are more dependent on focus than feeling. So, how can you focus on student assets in your program to improve results?

Set the Culture

Y4Y’s course on creating a positive learning environment walks programs through the steps needed to set or reshape your culture. Revisit your core values with the implementation checklist that accompanies the course, and commit your program to that cultural shift that emphasizes individual and group strengths.

Just Ask!

If your program hasn’t mastered the topic, check out the Y4Y course on capturing student voice and choice. Effective methods and tools for considering both student and family feedback will not only help you discover those student strengths; they’ll also illustrate that strengths are your focus. Download and adapt these Y4Y tools:

Strengths as Data Points

As you move toward an asset-based approach, be sure that your data collection reflects this shift:

  • The Y4Y Three Types of Data tool serves as a reminder of what goes into intentional program design. Even school-level data could speak to individual strengths like resilience of students in a region that experienced a recent natural disaster.
  • Explore the Structuring Successful Homework and Tutoring Sessions Click & Go for suggestions on how to use that data in your staffing efforts, then group students in ways that highlight their respective strengths.
  • Get comfortable with qualitative data. This less rigid way of determining needs and results is critical in a shift to asset-based thinking, given that quantitative data is often rooted in a deficit framework.

Just as health and longevity get a boost with a generous dose of gratitude, so, too, will your program when you give students the opportunity to be seen for their strengths. Every single student has strengths. If you can’t see their positives, it doesn’t mean they need to work harder. It means you do. Y4Y is ready to work for you and WITH you on this great mission.

 



December 6, 2021

Do you ever feel like you dove into your 21st CCLC program midstream? You could be a new frontline staff member joining midyear, a site coordinator hired with lots of “this is how we do it” rules, or a program director who’s handed a funded grant and asked to make it happen. It can feel like a game of catch-up, but the other side of that coin is: Coming in midway means some groundwork has already been laid for you! Whatever your program role, Y4Y’s updated Introduction to the Nita M. Lowey 21st Century Community Learning Centers Grant Program course (Intro to 21st CCLCs) can help you from beginning to middle to the end, if that’s where you happen to be coming in! The new course breaks 21st CCLC programs down into three phases: planning, implementing and sustaining.

Beginning: Planning

Planning includes everything from deciding to apply for a grant to gathering stakeholders to reviewing legislation, performing a needs assessment, considering how to leverage your partnerships and assets, understanding your state’s application (or request for application — RFA) and applying or reapplying for a grant. Your role in this phase depends on your role in the organization.

A few things to know about planning if you’re a frontline staff member who just came in:

  • You should have an idea of the who, what, where, why, when and how of 21st CCLC programs. The introduction section of the new course is a great primer on the spirit of 21st CCLCs.
  • Ask your supervisors or peers what aspect of 21st CCLCs your program emphasizes (or plans to emphasize, if it’s a new grant). Examples include general academic enrichment, career exploration, STEM/STEAM projects, community engagement, or social and emotional learning (SEL). Remember: (1) there’s not a single “right” answer — your program is designed around the needs of your community; (2) your program might emphasize more than one area of need; and (3) your program’s priorities have probably shifted over time. Try to understand these shifts and when and how they might happen again. Embrace a flexible mindset about shifting priorities. These priorities can inform your interactions with your students.
  • As you become comfortable in your role, recognize that you’ll be a key player in data collection and setting priorities! If you’re providing academic support but discover half of your students aren’t able to focus on academics because of difficult situations or traumatic experiences in their personal lives, your frontline feedback will be critical in moving the needle toward more emphasis on SEL.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

A few things to know about planning if you’re a site coordinator who just came in:

  • Whether a new grant or an existing one, get to know the elements of programming for the grant(s) you’re managing. What are the regulations around areas like staffing, expenditures and recruitment? Whether a pre-existing or new position, you might ask your program director to connect you with other programs in your area or state to speak with peers in the field about their own hard-learned do’s and don’ts. Remember to continue to crosswalk these discoveries with your program’s grant proposal and regulations.
  • Begin to think about the relationships that will be key for you to establish and maintain as a site coordinator. What will your role be in interacting with school or district administrators? With families? Within the organization?
  • Consider your role in training staff, and bearing that role in mind, acquaint yourself with the initiatives and priorities your stakeholders are calling for as they prepare the grant, or that have been documented in an existing grant.
  • Review the full Intro to 21st CCLCs course, especially the section on coaching my staff, to gain a better understanding of where to find the resources you need.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

A few things to know about planning if you’re a program director who just came in:

  • For a new grant, begin by bringing together serious stakeholders (folks who are ready to work!) from every aspect of programming — partners and parents from around the community and local education agency (LEA). Train together with the full Intro to 21st CCLCs course before moving forward with the grant planning strategies described there.
  • For grants that are funded but not yet implemented, forge an open line of communication with the team who contributed to its writing.
  • Your 21st CCLC state coordinator is your new best friend. Look to them with any questions you have along the way.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

Middle: Implementation

Phase 2 is implementation. Anyone joining a 21st CCLC program midstream is likely in this phase of the grant, which lasts for most of its lifespan. A new team member will have a “getting to know you” period, which hopefully leads to a “helping the program improve” period. Consider what’s been done for you versus what lies ahead, depending on your role.

A few things to know about implementing if you’re a frontline staff member who just came in:

  • Review your program’s policies and procedures, including those around safety. It’s best to direct any questions to your site coordinator or program director to be sure you’re honoring the grant.
  • “Off book” advice from peers can also be helpful. Just be sure to understand official practices set forth because it’s always possible that other frontline staff don’t fully understand the guidelines or have fallen into bad habits. An example of this could be poor handling of student privacy or ways of addressing behavior management.
  • Be sure to understand all aspects of activity delivery. If you don’t fully understand why an activity was designed a certain way, don’t be afraid to ask. You’re a much more effective facilitator when you’re invested in the process.
  • Offer real-time feedback to peers and supervisors to ensure the most effective program delivery.
  • Remember that relationships are the foundation of your work with students. Regularly foster appropriately warm and engaging personal interactions with each young person in your group.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

A few things to know about implementing if you’re a site coordinator who just came in:

  • You’re an important bridge between the program director, who has a high-level view of activities and budget, and the frontline staff who put activities in motion. Be sure your communication style and advocacy for appropriate allocation of time, space and resources makes sense up and down the organization.
  • Understanding how to intentionally design activities is an absolute must. Revisit the grant as often as needed to carry out this key role.
  • If you’re coming into a previously existing position, ask your program director and frontline staff what they liked about how your predecessor coordinated the work. What changes would they like to see?
  • Communication outside of the organization is just as important. Gauge where the program is with recruitment, family engagement efforts and data collection, and try to be consistent with your predecessor if you’re coming in midstream. After your stakeholders have gotten to know you is the time to make improvements to that system, unless they make you immediately aware of problems that existed before you entered the program. In that case, assure them of your commitment to the grant and the students it serves.
  • Staff training should be a priority. You may discover that staff training in your program is little more than being handed a policies and procedures guide. Explore the Y4Y courses and Click & Go’s, and determine which ones your staff can benefit from right away. Consider asking staff members to take different courses and share their takeaways during staff meetings.
  • Engage in Y4Y’s Managing Your 21st CCLC Program course.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

A few things to know about implementing if you’re a program director who just came in:

  • Observation is going to be a top priority. Spend your nonprogram hours catching up on everything about planning that has been documented, and spend your program hours visiting sites.
  • Be sure that, in addition to the day-to-day aspects of your program’s implementation, you understand the components that went into its planning. This knowledge will help you remain true to the program goals and understand its “roots” so that you can revisit all aspects of planning as needed.
  • You might consider an informal survey of your stakeholders via email to assure them that you want to honor their voices as the program takes a little different shape under your leadership. Assure them that changes will be made only to benefit students or to ensure that the program follows the letter of the grant.
  • Continue or establish a culture of positivity and improvement. This includes encouraging sites to budget time and resources for staff to feel safe about giving honest feedback and for training.
  • Ensure that systems are in place for recruiting students and staff, choosing and designing appropriate activities, and collecting and managing data for the duration of the program. Be sure to look ahead to your reporting requirements so that there are no surprises at reporting time.
  • Engage in the Managing Your 21st CCLC Program course, and meet with site coordinators to understand existing delegation and to discuss any changes in responsibilities.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

End: Sustaining

Continuing and sustaining is the last phase of the 21st CCLC grant process, though there are elements of this phase throughout the life of the grant. The hallmarks of this phase include culminating events, final data collection and reporting, fiscal reconciliation and reporting, planning for continuous improvement of the program, and sustaining your initiatives beyond the period of grant funding. And yes, it’s possible to be a new frontline staff member, site coordinator or program director coming in at this phase. While you’ll have a flurry of catch-up to do no matter what your role, you can make the most of your circumstances by focusing on your assets — any and all groundwork that has been laid for you. Your investment in wrapping up loose ends will pay off in the role you’ll get to have planning for the next year or grant cycle.

A few things to know about sustaining if you’re a frontline staff member who just came in:

  • Sharpen your skills of observation! The qualitative data you can provide about the growth of specific students and the success of activities will be important.
  • Don’t forget that culminating events are a wonderful opportunity to fully engage families. As your resources allow, budget the time, space and funds for something truly special.
  • Recognize your role in family and community partnerships. As your site coordinator or program director seeks to strengthen and leverage these partnerships, be sure that your interactions with families and community members are respectful and enthusiastic. You can inspire their support!
  • The same goes for student interactions. Program recruitment depends heavily on student word of mouth, especially in high school programs. You might be coming in at the end, but leave students with a great feeling about the future of your 21st CCLC program!
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

A few things to know about sustaining if you’re a site coordinator who just came in:

  • Your program director will depend on you for end-of-cycle data collection. Quickly familiarizing yourself with related staff, budget and data needs will be key.
  • Reassure partners about the future of the program, even if leadership is undergoing shifts. Be future-oriented in your conversations, and don’t be shy with specific asks for upcoming cycles. Grant funding is limited, but creative solutions can lead to sustaining programs indefinitely.
  • Continuous improvement is essential at this stage. Give staff and students a safe opportunity to provide feedback, and collaborate with your program director on how to honor that feedback.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

A few things to know about sustaining if you’re a program director who just came in:

  • Accurate reporting will be your most important task if you’re joining a program at this phase. Relationships with SEAs, LEAs and site coordinators will be essential. Their investment in your program by this stage is significant, so don’t be shy about enlisting their help!
  • It’s never fun to jump in the moment decisions need to be made, but if you have to, be sure that in your continuous improvement of the program you’re bringing all stakeholders to the table. Some of your program’s initiatives, such as STEAM or including students with disabilities, may have dedicated program teams. If not, now might be the time to assemble those teams in order to have the voices you need to feel confident in your decisions about future years/cycles.
  • Ideas about sustaining your program (or at least some of the enrichment activities your program has offered) beyond your 21st CCLC grant may be one of the reasons you were hired at this phase. Don’t waste any time putting those ideas in motion, connecting with old partners and new, and thinking creatively about leveraging those partnerships.
  • Throughout this “end” phase of your grant year, keep in mind that all the information you’re collecting truly serves these multiple purposes. Bearing that in mind can help you from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Check out these Y4Y tools:

Whatever your role in your 21st CCLC program, don’t let the game of catch-up get you down. There will always be folks who want to help, both up and down the organization and among your community partners. Taking a few beats to focus on what’s already been done for you will help you get your bearings, and it might even lift your spirits about the future of the program and your place in it! And, of course, Y4Y will be there right by your side with tools and resources. Before you know it, you’ll be the seasoned afterschool professional lending someone else a hand. Won’t that be the flip side of the coin!