Friday, December 31, 2010
Kahlil Gibran commented, "Zeal is a volcano, the peak of which the grass of indecisiveness does not grow.” This has been true for C4K. Once made, the initial decision to develop C4K has guided the process. The team has learned much, experienced challenges of both technology and content overload, and persevered to launching the website services. If initial response is any indication, the journey was well worth the effort.
At C4K we firmly believe that a “small group of committed people can change the world.” We have found some of these quotes, inspirational.
"Through zeal, knowledge is gotten; through lack of zeal, knowledge is lost; let a man who knows the double path of gain and loss thus place himself that knowledge may grow." The Buddha
"When you are laboring for others let it be with the same zeal as if it were for yourself." Confucius
"Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal." Charles Buxton
"Zeal will do more than knowledge.” William Hazlitt
Thursday, December 30, 2010
Knowledge and Experience: Although it does not indicate the amount of learning time and experience that must occur for wisdom to be developed, if we believe Malcolm Gladwell, that figure is around 10,000 hours. This is especially interesting when we live in a culture that expects instant gratification and instant almost everything else. Patience is not something that we foster.
Common Sense: It is also my experience that “common sense is not so common.” Although knowledge and common sense are not mutually exclusive, many decisions would appear to deny this. Common sense has to do with judgment that is not based on specialize knowledge, but rather a native or intuitive logic. Thomas Paine, author of Common Sense, used “plain language” to guide American colonists into understanding the logic of no longer accepting the authority of the British Government, thousands of miles away. Common implies that all people can possess this “sense” and when given an opportunity, most can.
Insight: Insight is the “ability to perceive clearly or deeply” not just the outward manifestations of a situation, but the inward or hidden nature of things as well. Sometimes insight is gained over time and other times it appears to be more “instant” especially when it comes to understanding a complex situation or problem or the significance of an event or action. My experience is that even when insight appears to be instant, it is, in reality a result of a thorough 360° investigation and much thought, both intentional and in the back-burner of your brain. To have insight a person must be willing to understand things rather than explain things—which is, indeed, rather rare.
Combining these unique ingredients into wisdom is a journey of learning and self-reflection. There are two interesting quotes that focus on wisdom, one of which is a Zen Proverb and the other by Juvenal. They are:
"Sometimes, simply by sitting, the soul collects wisdom." Zen Proverb
"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another." Juvenal
Monday, December 27, 2010
The importance of service is also evident in the 40 Development Assets. These Assets have been identified as the 40 external and internal influences that affect a youth’s resilience and ability to persevere when things are challenging. There are 20 identified External Assets and one of the categories is Empowerment. In this category the importance of having the community value youth, see youth as playing a vital role in the community, and understand that young people can provide service to others as they work in the community, can be clearly seen. The role of the after-school program is to create a space in which young people can learn to value service above self. Children are not born with a “service gene,” but can, through participation in well-orchestrated projects, learn that service is as fulfilling and valuable as eating a good meal.
Albert Schweitzer, a doctor who committed himself to the well-being of people in Africa tells us, "I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve."
Other quotes that focus on the value of service include:
"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others, cannot keep it from themselves." James M. Barrie
"The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people." Leo Tolstoy
"Service is what life is all about." Marian Wright Edelman
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." Mohandas K. Gandhi
Thursday, December 23, 2010
The Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s certainly focused on the “fair and proper administration of laws conforming to the natural law that all persons, irrespective of ethnic origin, gender, possessions, race, religion, etc., are to be treated equally and without prejudice.” Progress was made and “justice for all” continues to be forwarded. Former U.S. Secretary of Education Ron Paige has stated that closing the achievement gap is the civil rights issue of this generation. After-school and other out-of-school time programs are an integral part of the solution. Students who attend programs consistently and stay for the full program can, in reality, get about 90 additional days of practice to master the skills and learn the material needed to successfully complete a year’s course of study. Couple this extra time with the relationships youth build with caring adults, and you have a recipe for success. After-school is an opportunity to move the needle toward justice.
Saint Thomas Aquinas stated, "Justice is a certain rectitude of mind whereby a man does what he ought to do in the circumstance confronting him." Let’s get on board to do what we, as Americans, ought to do and find social justice. Other quotes about justice include:
"Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just." Blaise Pascal
"Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere." Martin Luther King, Jr.
"Conscience is the chamber of justice." Anonymous
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Integrity means being impeccable with your word. In all reality, the only thing you really have is your word and the actions that you take on those words. Young people ultimately want to know if they can trust you, if you are a person who says what you mean and means what you say. When you prove that this is who you are, youth can relax and trust that what you tell them will, in fact, be as close to reality as possible. Until you have proven that you are unimpeachable with your word, young people will be doing research to discover the truth. For example, when you and your students agree that you will leave the space you occupy during after-school better than when you got there, and you do not encourage them to keep things neat and orderly—picking up the trash, straightening desks and chairs, putting everything back when you got it—they will quickly understand that you just give lip service to wanting to leave the room in better shape. Intuitively they will begin to question everything you say, and you will discover that they become more and more challenging. They are trying to establish the boundaries.
Demonstrating that you have integrity will afford you the respect of the students that you work with. It will encourage them to have integrity as well. Integrity—being integrated or whole—(integer means being a whole unit or entity), will set you on a path toward unlimited success.
An Unknown Author stated, “Integrity is doing the right thing, even if nobody is watching.” Other quotes include:
"The most important persuasion tool you have in your entire arsenal is integrity." Zig Ziglar
“A single lie destroys a whole reputation of integrity.” Baltasar Gracian
Monday, December 20, 2010
There is a Proverb that likens the lack of generosity to a blacksmith’s bellows. The Proverb opines, “He who allows his day to pass by without practicing generosity and enjoying life’s pleasures is like a blacksmith’s bellows. He breathes, but does not live.” Generosity is not just about someone else enjoying or benefiting from something, it is about the reciprocation that happens between people when each person is giving of the best of themselves and the other person is receiving what is given with a full heart.
6,000 years of recorded history has been focused on finite resources and convincing people that only a few can control and have power over these finite resources. As we move into the Knowledge Worker Age, this attitude of scarcity is being replaced with one of plenty, the belief that we can all have access to all of the knowledge in the world and that our ability to work with that knowledge is what is important.
Be generous of spirit with the students in your program. Work with them to empower them to become all they can be. Two additional quotes follow:
"Real generosity toward the future lies in giving all to the present." Albert Camus
"He who allows his day to pass by without practicing generosity and enjoying life's pleasures is like a blacksmith's bellows. He breathes, but does not live." Proverb
"Be generous but not extravagant, be frugal but not miserly" Imam Ali
Friday, December 17, 2010
After-school does not exist in a static environment. It operates daily in very dynamic surroundings. Ambiguity is the name of the game. Flexibility is the ability to live by the ethic of “current best thinking.” What this means is that when you learn new information, you change your thinking and adjust to the new reality. Flexibility does not mean weakness, rather it means being supple enough to make “lemonade from lemons.” Stay true to your principles and flexible in your strategies. Tom Robbins puts it this way, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”
Other interesting quotes on flexibility follow.
"Nothing in the world is more flexible and yielding than water. Yet when it attacks the firm and the strong, none can withstand it, because they have no way to change it. So the flexible overcome the adamant, the yielding overcome the forceful. Everyone knows this, but no one can do it." Lao-tzu
"I am a man of fixed and unbending principles, the first of which is to be flexible at all times.” Everett Dirksen
"Men are born soft and supple; dead, they are stiff and hard. Plants are born tender and pliant; dead, they are brittle and dry. Thus whoever is stiff and inflexible is a disciple of death. Whoever is soft and yielding is a disciple of life. The hard and stiff will be broken. The soft and supple will prevail." Lao-tzu
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Each day there are many influences that press in on us and demand our attention. Many of these things appear to be a “fire in our face,” and yet when we take a step back so we can discern what is really going on, we find, in many cases, that there is no fire, just noise and a lot of smoke trying to get our attention.
Judgment, or discernment, strengthens with age and experience. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers, writes about the importance of having 10,000 hours of practice before we are able to accomplish success. He gives examples of the Beatles who played many hours in all night clubs before becoming an over-night success, or Bill Gates who began “playing” with the computer when we was in Junior High, and others who appear to have magically succeeded, when in reality they developed discernment through hours upon endless hours of practice.
The Wisdom Commons says that “discernment is the ability to grasp, comprehend, and evaluate clearly. It means we can see the true nature of things; it allows us to distinguish between what is real and what is imitation.”
Chanakya shares with us, "We should not fret for what is past, nor should we be anxious about the future; men of discernment deal only with the present moment." Chanakya
Lord Byron states, “Her great merit is finding out mine - there is nothing so amiable as discernment.” Lord Byron
Monday, December 13, 2010
It is important that we understand the difference between being stubborn and being determined. Stubborn people will continue to do the same thing even when they are not getting the results that they desire. Determined people continually assess the situation and make the necessary adjustments to keep moving forward and accomplish the results that they desire. Determined people have a clear vision of what is to be accomplished and an openness to the methods (ethical of course) that will get them to the end.
Living in the Central Valley of California, we often used Sacramento as a metaphor for the “end result.” We made it clear to everyone that the goal we wanted to attain—Sacramento—was non-negotiable. The means of getting there—Interstate 5, Highway 99, Amtrack, plane, walking, or any other way that would end in Sacramento, as long as it was appropriate, was encouraged. No two people accomplish the goal in the same way, so embracing the differences in people makes you even more determined to accomplish results.
President Calvin Coolidge remarked, “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education alone will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan "press on" has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."
Here are some other quotes to remind us of the importance of determination.
- “It's the constant and determined effort that breaks down all resistance and sweeps away all obstacles." Claude M. Bristol
- "The gem cannot be polished without friction, nor man perfected without trials." Chinese Proverb
- "When nothing seems to help, I go and look at a stonecutter hammering away at his rock perhaps a hundred times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the hundred and first blow it will split in two, and I know it was not that blow that did it - but all that had gone before." Jacob Riis
- "If your determination is fixed, I do not counsel you to despair. Few things are impossible to diligence and skill. Great works are performed not by strength, but perseverance." Samuel Johnson
Friday, December 10, 2010
If you are on an interview team, here are some questions you might want to ask, substituting your topic for the word “something.”
- How would you describe something?
- What are the causes of something?
- What are the effects of something?
- What is important about something?
- What are the smaller parts that comprise something?
- How has something changed? Why are those changes important?
- What is known and unknown about something?
- What category of ideas or objects does something belong to?
- Is something good or bad? Why?
- What suggestions or recommendations would you make about something?
- What are the different aspects of something you can think of?
Other quotes to consider about creativity include:
- "Creativity is the power to connect the seemingly unconnected." William Plomer
- "Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams
- “Creativity takes courage." Henri Matisse
- "You must not for one instant give up the effort to build new lives for yourselves. Creativity means to push open the heavy, groaning doorway to life." Daisaku Ikeda
Wednesday, December 8, 2010
As a child I had years of piano lessons. I learned to read music, and although certainly not becoming a concert pianist, I could, with practice, play most anything on the piano. As a young adult I became infatuated with the flute after hearing a wonderful flutist playing O Holy Night. It seemed to me that if I took a few lessons, I would be able to transfer my skills as a piano player to playing the flute. After all, reading music was reading music and I could certainly read very complex music. Also, playing a flute was consistent with playing the piano because both require that you use both hands and press the appropriate “keys” to get the sound you want. I purchased a flute, found a music teacher and expected to be playing O Holy Night in a month. Unfortunately, the music teacher did nothing to help me understand that while my comparisons between the piano and the flute were correct, there is a huge, huge difference. The flute requires that you learn how to blow into the instrument correctly and to control your breathing in such a way that you can phrase the music correctly. So after several months of practicing and trying to play music that I could read, but had not skill to play, I lost confidence. As I lost confidence, I also lost interest. It seemed like an impossible task, and so, I purchased a tape full of beautiful flute solos and have become an avid listener.
I learned much from this experience. One of the most important lessons learned had to do with building confidence and that it is done by helping set benchmarks along the road to achieving the goal. It also taught me the importance of not equating confidence with success, but with following through and continuing to be resilient and work through to the end. When it came to playing the flute, I was unwilling to follow the words of wisdom from Roslyn Carter, “You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” Helping young people understand their unique abilities and then to help them be resilient enough to keep moving on, is possible when we have confidence in ourselves, even when we haven’t accomplished the end result (yet!)
Following are some great quotes that address confidence. Consider them as you reflect on your own performance in 2010.
- Confidence comes not from always being right, but from not fearing to be wrong." Peter T. Mcintyre
- "Without a humble but reasonable confidence in your own powers you cannot be successful or happy." Norman Vincent Peale
- "Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control." Richard Kline
- "The best way to gain self-confidence is to do what you are afraid to do." Author Unknown
Monday, December 6, 2010
Many people are reluctant to make a commitment. They seem to intuitively understand that if they give their word they will need to “make good” on it. So rather than commit, they say things like, “I’ll try.” (Yoda says there is no try only do) or “I’ll see if I can get to it”, or “if it works out.” Since everything we do gives young people permission to do the same thing, is it any wonder they give us the same responses when we ask them to make a commitment?
To make and keep commitments you must begin with the “man or woman in the mirror.” Commitment begins and ends with you. Keep promises to yourself and others. Be honest with yourself and others as well. Be loyal to those who are present and those who are absent. Listen, say you are sorry, and keep the main thing the main thing. Set clear expectations about what you are committing to do and the time frame in which you will accomplish it. Give people updates so they know the commitment is on your mind. Brian Koslow tells us, “To increase your effectiveness, make your emotions subordinate to your commitments.” So get out there and make a commitment, however small, and then keep it. You learn to honor huge commitments by honoring a thousand small commitments along the way.
Following are some great quotes that address commitment. Consider them as you reflect on your own performance in 2010.
• "Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.” Tom Robbins
• "Commitment unlocks the doors of imagination, allows vision, and gives us the "right stuff" to turn our dreams into reality.” James Womack
• "The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment to excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor." Vince Lombardi
• “Individual commitment to a group effort -- that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” Vince Lombardi
• “The relationship between commitment and doubt is by no means an antagonistic one. Commitment is healthiest when it's not without doubt, but in spite of doubt.” Dr. Rollo May
• “If you deny yourself commitment, what can you do with your life?” Harvey Fierstein
• “Great organizations demand a high level of commitment by the people involved.” Bill Gates
Friday, December 3, 2010
Care can be demonstrated intentionally and unintentionally, as well as in small and large expressions. Leo F. Buscaglia puts it this way, “Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” Demonstrating to young people that we genuinely care about them is one of things as youth workers we are all responsible for doing.
Taking care of the young people in our program certainly means that we create a program in which youth are both physically and emotionally safe. Too often we focus on physical safety (essential of course) and turn a blind eye to emotional safety when we ignore bullying, unkind words, ostracism from a team, or young people simply acting as if one of their peers does not exist. As youth workers we must pay attention to both aspects of safety. As we have learned from Maslow’s Hierarchy, when safety needs are not met it is difficult to focus on building relationships and developing self-efficacy.
A few years ago a movie, Pay It Forward, captured the importance of Random Acts of Kindness. As a role model for youth, including them in service learning that will give them an opportunity to “care” for others, is important. Engaging youth in service learning or community service projects will help them) experience caring for others and the way that one feels when you know you have made a difference. Care for the youth that you work with. Celebrate with them and let them know that you are delighted to share a piece of each day with them.
Following are some great quotes that address caring. Consider them as you reflect on your own performance in 2010.
• “I feel the capacity to care is the thing which gives life its deepest significance.” Pablo Casals
• “Want of care does us more damage than want of knowledge” Benjamin Franklin
• “Caring is a powerful business advantage.” Scott Johnson
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
So as 2010 comes to an end, what are those values that role models might want to consider in the list of “the” Top 13? Let’s begin with accountability. Accountability has been defined as the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s actions (and of course if willingness is not there, it becomes the obligation to account for one’s behaviors). Accepting this responsibility is the first step in becoming independent and opening the possibility of working with others in a state of interdependence. Dan Zadra comments about some favorite expressions of small children: “It’s not my fault. . . They made me do it. . . I forgot.” Some favorite expressions of adults: “It’s not my job. . . No one told me. . . It couldn’t be helped.” True freedom begins and ends with personal accountability." Demonstrating for young people that we accept responsibility for our actions, without excuse when we fall short, can go a long way to “undo” these bad habits. The fact of the matter is this, there are many things that can act as obstacles to our performing in precisely the way we desire, and the question becomes, with this being the truth, ‘What will we choose to do?’ ‘Will we let people know we will not be able to meet our objective?’ ‘Will we renegotiate a time frame?’ ‘Will we work more diligently to accomplish the task?’ ‘Will we try a new strategy and enlist additional support?’ Accepting responsibility does not mean we are always successful, it simply means that we are responsible.
Following are some great quotes that address accountability. Consider them as you reflect on your own performance in 2010.
• "Accountability breeds response-ability." Stephen R. Covey
• "We must reject the idea that every time a law's broken, society is guilty rather than the lawbreaker. It is time to restore the American precept that each individual is accountable for his actions." Ronald Reagan
• "Life is not accountable to us. We are accountable to life." Denis Waitley
• "Good men prefer to be accountable." Michael Edwards
• "We are accountable for our decisions in our personal life so why shouldn't we be just as accountable in our work life." Catherine Pulsifer
Monday, November 29, 2010
Community Service is an opportunity for your youth to Pay It Forward by first identifying an unmet need in the community and then making a plan to address that need. Youth can work alone, in a club, or with a community organization to resolve the need. Sample projects can include neighborhood clean-up, supporting community health fairs, collecting recyclables, refurbishing and repainting a homeless center, collecting blankets for the animal shelter so animals can have a warmer winter, and any number of other projects.
Although the community will definitely benefit from community service, perhaps the greatest benefit will be for your students. In the Search Institute’s 40 Developmental Assets, two key areas stand out as those who will benefit from community service:
• Self Esteem: The development of high self-esteem and self-efficacy
• Sense of Purpose: The development of a strong sense of purpose, and
• Caring: Placing a high value on helping other people
• Equality and Social Justice: Placing a high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty.
Helping young people to develop and hone these traits will prepare them for productive and successful life.
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Following are some quotes to remind us of the importance of being grateful.
“It is easy for us to complain about things we do not have. Instead, let’s be grateful for our many gifts and be willing to share them with others.”
Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
William Arthur Ward
“There are so many reasons to give thanks. Make a list of all the things and people who make a difference in your life and find a way to show your thanks this week.”
“True happiness can only be found when we learn to be content with what we have.”
“Gratitude preserves old friendships, and procures new.”
“Good cheer is something more than faith in the future; it is gratitude for the past and joy in the present.”
“Gratitude is the most exquisite form of courtesy.” Jacques Maritain
“A person, however learned and qualified in his life’s work in whom gratitude is absent, is devoid of that beauty of character which makes personality fragrant.” Hazrat Inavat Khan
“Develop an attitude of gratitude, and give thanks for everything that happens to you, knowing that every step forward is a step toward achieving something bigger and better than your current situation.” Brian Tracy
Monday, November 22, 2010
In 1963, the Civil Rights Movement was just coming into its own, and we will never know what affect the Kennedy Assassination had on those events. Would events have occurred in the same way or was the timeline accelerated or slowed because of it? Where would we be as a nation had this single event not occurred? Certainly we kept Kennedy’s promise to land a man on the moon before the end of the decade, but what other promises would have been made and consequently kept had he lived? While there is no answer to those questions, as we cannot have a retake on history, we are faced with similar challenges in 2010 as a result of the achievement gap. We are faced with deciding whether or not we will become a nation that embodies the words of the Pledge of Allegiance which state, “with liberty and justice for all”.
For me, the decision is “yes”, and the work of public education and after-school programs is to ensure that social justice is a reality for all students. We must take seriously this new civil rights issue and refuse to rest until the achievement gap is closed and every youth is able to reach his or her amazing potential. We can accomplish these results. If you look back over the course of history, many of the accomplishments of men have had an equal or larger number of skeptics boasting that it will never work. If we are dedicated to “liberty and justice for all”, we must also find strength in the words of Margaret Mead,
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
Friday, November 19, 2010
Youth are also looking to see how you measure up on these character traits as well:
• Positive Attitude
Character Counts shortens this list, identifying six pillars of character: trustworthiness, responsibility, respect, fairness, caring, and citizenship.
Stephen Covey tells us that until about 150 years ago, leadership was defined in terms of character, but that today, it has been redefined by the personality ethic. In other words, leadership was defined by an integration of such traits as integrity, humility, patience, and following the Golden Rule, while now, leadership is based on personality, technique, appearance, and having a positive mental attitude. He goes on to say that character creates long-term lasting relationships that are there for the long haul, while the personality ethic has much less staying power. Emerson perhaps says it best, “What you are shouts so loudly in my ears I cannot hear what you say.”
As we move forward in our work with young people, let’s remember that one of our most important roles is that of role model, and that character truly is what coun
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
While change begins when we are first made aware of some new information and we make a decision that this different way of thinking or doing things could benefit us, and ends with a sustained habit, this does not constitute a Theory of Change.
A TOC has been defined as “a strategy or blueprint for achieving large-scale, long-term goals. It identifies the preconditions, pathways and interventions necessary for an initiative's success.” A TOC is a way of looking at very complex issues that are interwoven, braided and blended together so it is difficult to break them apart into stand alone units. A TOC helps you to determine the necessary conditions and pathways to follow to have the effect and results that you desire. The Harvard Business Review, October, 2010 published an article by Robert Kaplan and Allen Grossman, that those of you in the world of after-school, and particularly non-profits engaged in the work of after-school might find interesting. “The Emerging Capital Market for Nonprofits”, discusses how “market mechanisms from the private sector could energize the nonprofit world”. On page 116 of the magazine, an interesting graphic outlines a possible TOC which could at least help you begin to think about your purpose and your theory of change.
Monday, November 15, 2010
I am struck by how much in common wheel alignment has with the educational and social alignment of school day and after-school. This article could have as easily read, ‘In instituting an after-school program, proper educational and social alignment with the school day is important so as not to sacrifice learning opportunities for youth, and hence, their success both in school and in life. Often times, alignment between the school day and after-school is confused with replicating the school day program, however, these are two different terms. Alignment consists of adjusting the strategies of after-school to support the good work of the school day and to be parallel with it, although supporting learning through the multiple intelligences, a variety of learning modalities, and engaging skill building activities that are not duplicated in the school day. Improper alignment of the school day and after-school results in excessive wear and stress on both students and staff members, and can end in results that could have demonstrated stronger student outcomes if the programs had been aligned.’
Alignment is not the work for the faint of heart. Beginning with the end in mind, young people who are better educated and better prepared for the advanced citizenship of being an American, a great deal of communication and information sharing must occur to create an aligned system. It is possible, and if you work in an after-school program, please make a commitment to contribute to the work.
Friday, November 12, 2010
Dr. Deborah Lowe Vandell, Chair of the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine, has also done research around the effectiveness of after-school programs. On her faculty profile, Dr. Vandell states, “I have longstanding interests in three areas: …after school programs and activities - their impact on children and youth and strategies for improving the quality of after-school programs…” is one of them. In a recent conversation, A Discussion on After School Programs, Vandell answered the following three questions:
1. Why are after-school programs valuable?
2. What do schools of education need to know about after-school programs?
3. What's the value of summer programs
You can find the full answers at http://www.edutopia.org/deborah-lowe-vandell#graph2 .
At a California After School Network function, Vandell spoke about the Positive effects of after-school programs on academic and social benefits from a study completed over a two year period. You can tune into Dr. Vandell’s discussion at http://www.afterschoolnetwork.org/node/7758 .
These and other research efforts are taking a look at after-school programs and the impact they are having on youth. As an after-school provider, it is imperative that you become familiar with the current research and learn from it to strengthen your program.
Thursday, November 11, 2010
: Happy Veteran's Day! We salute our troops, past and present. Thank you for fighting for our freedom and the liberties that we have. It is a true honor to be a part of this great nation. We support our troops overseas and hope that they will return soon.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Earlier in our history, Abraham Lincoln and other dignitaries, gathered on the battle field at Gettysburg to commemorate the loss of life on this battlefield. In one of the most poignant yet simple speeches, Lincoln declared:
“It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
So, here we are, over 90 years since the end of World War I, nearly 150 years since Lincoln’s words at Gettysburg, and well over two hundred years since the birth of this country and the question is, have we kept faith with these honored dead who gave “the last full measure of devotion”? Until all American children have an equal opportunity to recognize their full potential, I believe we still have work to do. According to Rod Paige, former Secretary of Education, in a press release on February 1, 2010, “closing the achievement gap is the civil rights issue of this generation”. After-school has a role to play in closing this gap, in making a difference for young people throughout this country. The cause of after-school, of out-of-school time learning, must be championed. After-school is a breath of fresh air in the K-12 Public Education System that is struggling to reform and reinvent itself. It is an opportunity to pave the way to new ways of learning that will capture the whole child—body, heart, mind, and spirit, and revitalize learning in this nation.
The promise of America is that ALL people will have equal opportunities to become, to recognize the potential they were born with.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Personally, I agree with him. Every day, every experience we have contributes to the knowledge, skills, behaviors, and attitudes that we have. I believe that many of the experiences we have, especially as we get older, act as confirmation for learning that we have had in the past. It affirms your point of view and gives you the confidence to move forward, knowing that at least some of your understanding of the world remains intact (especially important in the age of what seems like constant change). Sometimes an experience requires that we adjust our current thinking, either by adding a new increment of meaning and understanding, or helping us to see another application for that learning that previously escaped us. Finally, there is the kind of experience that opens up our minds in a totally unexpected way, it provides that “AHA!” moment in which you are both amazed and left wondering why you didn’t know it earlier. This process of “Confirm, Tweak or Adjust, and AHA!”, provides a forum to reflect on key learning and is often used in after-school programs to transform activities into intentional learning opportunities.
If you believe that learning requires information and experiences, then doesn’t it just make sense to intentionally extend learning time each day? Out-of-school time provides young people with an opportunity to extend the time of formal learning by several hours each day. After-school provides a forum for formal learning in an informal setting, with instructors who are from the neighborhood whenever possible. This extended time provides opportunities to learn through different learning modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, digital) or better yet, all of these modalities while maintaining the 3 R’s of after-school, relationships, relevance, and rigor. Additionally, after-school can employ less traditional methods and teach reading through song lyrics, drama, and/or science to name a few. Promoting the development of multiple intelligences and building on youth interests can only serve to engage the learner more completely.
Extending learning time and opportunities into the after-school arena is challenging for educators who believe that only a credentialed teacher can teach. It is important that we get past this notion. While I would absolutely agree that there are specific areas that you need trained professionals to address, I also believe that supporting the good work done by teachers during the school day can and should be supported by well-trained, energetic, and enthusiastic after-school staff.
Friday, November 5, 2010
First, long time advocate for after-school programs, Senator Barbara Boxer was elected for another 6 year term. Boxer captured approximately 50.2% of the vote while her Republican opponent captured 44.1% of the electorate. Boxer has been a strong supporter for after-school, helping to author the legislation in 1997 that authorized 21st Century Community Learning Center funding, and taking many opportunities to visit actual programs when checking in with her constituents in California. Her record speaks for itself.
Secondly, on the State level, Tom Torlakson currently a State Assemblyman formerly a State Senator from the bay area, was elected the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. This will be the first time since the beginning of after-school programming in California that the top job has been held by an advocate for the value-add of after-school programming. In fact, in 1998 Tom Torlakson authored legislation that has led to the development of the largest system of after school programs in the nation. In 2006, he authored the bill that led to a 300 percent expansion in these programs—so they now reach 4,000 schools around the state.
While this is good news for the field of after-school, these two strong proponents of after-school cannot do the job alone. In the field we need to give them the “ammunition” they need to convince others of the value-add of after-school programs that enrich the lives of young people each and every school day. How do we do that? I think there are several key things that we can all do to help our voice be heard.
First, I believe that each day we must work tirelessly to offer the highest quality programs for youth. These programs must support students academically, emotionally, and socially, while expanding their opportunities to develop leadership skills, participate in community service projects, apply skill learned during the school day, prepare for college and/or career, participate in healthy living activities, while all the time building strong, caring relationships with peers and staff.
Next, we must help to educate all of the stakeholders, parent, school day staff, the community at large, politicians, and others about the value-add of after-school. Invite an influential stakeholder to your program. Wow them with student leaders who take them on a guided tour while sharing with them the difference the program has made for them. This group of supporters may someday need to rally with after-school folks. So get the contact information of each of them and routinely reach out to them and update them about the successes of your program. Our stakeholders must believe that the after-school program is an essential service for students and families.
Finally, we must share our successes more broadly. Often times in after-school we enjoy the celebrations with students—the performances, the science fair demonstrations, the art gallery, the monthly recognitions—but we forget that we need to share these successes with others. Consider getting the newspaper and local television and radio to come out and regularly support your program. Keep your good work front and center. If you have positive evaluation data, share it. Look for the positive impact of your program and then celebrate it loudly and publically.
In California, after-school programming is heading into a year of uncertainty and vulnerability. Let’s support our existing champions!
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Of the youngsters in the film, only one was selected on the first round of the lottery for the few available spots in high-performing charter schools, and a second was brought in from the waiting list toward the beginning of the school year. The three others returned to their neighborhood schools. The odds, at least for those youngsters in the film, were 2:5 or 40% chance of being selected to attend one of the charter schools, and I cannot think that this is anywhere close to real odds which are much, much lower, as there are so many children applying for each and every slot that is open. But even if we took the film odds, you have a 40% chance of making it in which means you have a 60% chance of NOT making it. So what about the 60%? The answer lies in strengthening and supporting the reform of K-12 education.
It is easy to target K-12 public education as the villain in this piece, but I think that this would be short-sighted. It appears that there is plenty of “blame” to spread over a variety of canvases. And anyway, what good does playing the “Blame Game” really do. Each year, children in this country are not receiving an education that will help them to be competitive in the global work environment of the 21st century. They have more stress and fewer skills to deal with that stress and to exercise good judgment, critical thinking, and sound decision making. To move the reform agenda along maybe all of us reviewing the work of Peter Senge in his book, the Fifth Discipline, when he writes about the importance of asking the 5 Whys to get to the root of a challenge, would be helpful. Senge cautions that it is easiest, in going through this exercise to focus on people and place blame rather than get to the systemic changes that need to be made. So I would propose that we begin with the question, “Why is it that K-12 public education is only providing a high-quality education for 32% of its students?” and then, instead of simply blaming the schools, probe more deeply to find solutions to support the transformation of public education into a viable, results-driven opportunity for youth. Ten years ago education results were dismal:
• Only 70% of all students in public high schools graduate, and only 32% of all students leave high school qualified to attend four-year colleges.
• Only 51% of all black students and 52% of all Hispanic students graduate, and only 20% of all black students and 16% of all Hispanic students leave high school college-ready.
We can do better than this if we will accept the challenge to be Superman, in one community, in one neighborhood, in one school. There is a line toward the end of the movie, An American President, when the lead character (Michael Douglas playing the role of the U.S. President) states, “I’ve been so busy trying to keep my job, that I forgot to do my job.” It’s time to do our job and put aside all of the differences that prevent us from doing our job…providing young people with an education that will prepare them to grow-up to be adults who are productive citizens of this country.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
For those of you who are new to after-school, you may legitimately be wondering, “What’s the big deal? So time is changing and it will be dark a little earlier!” The big deal is the attitude or mindset change that happens when the sun goes down which sends out the alert that youth need to be home before dark, and certainly before the evening chill takes hold. Since birth we have learned that darkness can be fraught with danger and that light brings comfort (consider how lights are always turned on when we come to the assistance of an infant). And we have all seen pictures of families “cuddled up” around the fireplace in the winter drinking hot chocolate and eating popcorn. Warm matters! So, families want youth home before dark.
In California, even the After School Education and Safety Program legislation in Ed Code 8483 (a) (1) recognized the power of DARK:30, and specifies the need for an Early Release Policy that will accommodate all manner of locally identified needs for leaving early, including other conditions, especially safety, as prescribed by the school day administration. Some programs have identified the need for students who walk home, alone or with another, to leave the program 20-30 minutes before sundown, which means even earlier in mid-December as the days continue to shorten, to ensure safe passage. Others have determined that bus transportation will need to leave earlier to ensure that all students arrive home in the daylight, and/or that a parent be there to meet them at the bus stop to guarantee a safe transition from program to home.
So, DARK:30 is just around the corner. Be sure to advise parents and students of your plans if you haven’t already. Alter your schedule to include outdoor activity earlier in the program day. Remember, safety and supervision are key to a high quality after-school program, so safely addressing DARK:30 moves to the front burner when time changes next Sunday.