One of the most important roles of after-school programs is to support the good work of the school day. Each student who participates in the after-school program is directly linked to the expectations of the school day, whether that be in homework, behavior, or improved academic performance. Helping to create a seamless day for each student helps youth to be enveloped in consistency and support.
In order to align with the school day you need to develop a relationship with school day staff. While most after-school site coordinators have a working relationship with the school day principal, it is important that the site coordinator also develop strong connections with other school day staff—classroom teachers, food services personnel, instructional assistants, and custodians. It truly does “Take A Village” to raise a child and it is essential that after-school extends its hand to the school day.
Here are some tips for building strong relationships with the school day:
Be visible—say “hello” to everyone and show up in the lounge, at staff meetings, and school events.
Learn as much as you can about what is going on in each classroom—visit school day classrooms, especially those with students who are challenging. Learn what methods of support are being used by the classroom teacher and use those in the afterschool program as well.
Support the school day when and where you can—if someone needs help, volunteer, don’t wait to be asked. If you can help by monitoring a benchmark test, or taking tickets at the school carnival, then do that.
Ask questions and genuinely listen to the answers—remember that school day teachers are exactly that, teachers. Be willing to be an adult member of the classroom that they create.
Communicate regularly so folks know what is going on in the after-school program. Lack of information creates a vacuum, and misinformation can easily fill that vacuum if you are not careful. Share the great work that you are doing and how this work supports the school day.