Getting School Day Staff on Board with After School Programming
Is there a way to get school day teachers and staff to understand and support after school programming better?
Good afternoon! A couple of quick ideas:
1). Monthly meetings with staff… You definitely need one prior to the school year. Use this time to bring your team together, set the tone for the year, outline your expectations, explain the importance of cater schoo programming go over mandated reporting guidelines, etc. it’s a good idea to use your state’s program quality self-assessment tool during your meetings. I use one element each meeting and have the staff and myself self-evaluate.
2). Have each of your staff sign up for an account with Y4Y and set aside some time, or have them on their own, review information about after school programming.
3). Have staff attend webinars and other workshops/conferences as it pertains to after school programming.
4). Use of an advisory board that convenes once every quarter that includes parents, teachers, administrators and all stakeholders and of course…STUDENTS to give feedback on your program to include strengths and weaknesses. It drives home the importance of your programming.
5). Be a part of the school community! Be visible…. Our school has an annual Back to School Teacher Breakfast.., myself and my team are very much a part of that! It’s important to cultivate relationships with the teachers.
6). Invite the school day staff and all other ‘customers’ to ‘visit’ your program! Some of the day school teachers are taste testers for our culinary club or have been models for our Fashion program.
7). We have a monthly newsletter on the goings-on of our program.
8). Open-Door policy: the teaches are free to add suggestions to our suggestion box, drop by and speak with myself or any team member about their ideas or students’ academic progress/behavior in the classroom and how we can work together for improvement and success.
- hope this helped!
Melanie Spencer, MPA
I’m sure our guest experts and your other colleagues online will have some great ideas for you!
We have a tool in the Aligning with the School Day module called the Communication and Collaboration checklist (https://www.y4y.ed.gov/tools/communication-and-collaboration-checklist). This checklist outlines a number of strategies for improving communication and collaboration with school day staff. It may be a good starting point for your team to think about what you are already doing and what you could do in the future.
This one can be tricky.
Good evaluation data about outcomes can be helpful, especially if it relates to academics. Presenting to school staff annually with evaluation results can be helpful, including stories from students.
However, I’ve found that as young people learn to advocate for themselves in sometimes oppressive situations, the program can be less liked by institutions like schools. That’s why it is important to build relationships with allies in systems like the school or juvenile corrections systems. Like I was on the diversity committee, school safety committee, health committee for school districts as a community member. So when a group of students were concerned about GLBT related bullying in their districts, they thought about leading a protest. I was able to help direct them to an ally in their school and set up a conversation during a teacher staff meeting where they could share the stories of what it was like for students either GLBT or perceived as such and the teachers requested PD about dealing with it and helped students create GSAs. Another group of students met with a judge, district attorney, and corrections officers to work on a juvenile detention alternative project to address disproportionate minority juvenile detention rates.
Remember to keep the relationship with the school day staff going!!!
Support school day staff functions, be a part of faculty meetings, bake sales, luncheons…. anything where you can develop the ‘informal’ relationships with them. Many school day staff feel “under the microscope” in regard to grades, the pressure for students to pass, etc… remind them that you are there to work in partnership with them for the betterment of all students.
Invite the school day staff to speak with you about their academic concerns regarding students in your program. If a child needs to stay after school with a day school teacher, work out an arrangement where the student can do go to their day school teacher first before beginning an activity in your program… in fact, this counts as academic support and helps to enrich your relationship with the school.
Go to any and everything!
Open House, Meet the Teacher, sporting events, theatre productions, pep rallys, schedule pick up, registration, Freshman Orientation, etc…go to them; don’t wait for them to respond to your email or announcement.
Attend staff development at the beginning of the year. When staff see you delving into data with them, learning the new behavior system, and prepping for the first week, it goes a long way to making you part of the team versus an outsider.
During the year, attend staff meetings or departmental meetings with purposeful updates and ideas. Keep open and constant lines of communication. Let them see you as an ally.
Send out brief newsletters or news updates highlighting program activities and student successes. Invite staff to program events. The more staff see the awesome things you are doing, the more likely they are to help or at least support your program.
If invited to social occasions (holidays parties, etc), go and get to know staff on a more personal level.
It helps for Site Coordinators to dress professionally even if they then change after school (into program or activity gear). This one change improved program and staff perceptions at one campus so noticeably that even the Site Coordinator noted it.
I forgot the most important part…
It takes time!!
Everyone won’t be swayed overnight and you just have to keep plugging away. We had one campus that had been very unsupportive and indifferent toward their program but after a full year of seemly unfruitful effort, the Site Coordinator returned the next year to an overwhelmingly supportive campus full of ideas, referring students, volunteering time, and recruiting staff.