Most every driver understands the importance of having wheels that are aligned. According to an article by Sarah McBride, “In installing the wheels, proper wheel alignment is important so as not to sacrifice the tires life and hence, the cars ride and handling. Often times, wheel alignment is confused with wheel balancing; the two, however are two different terms. Wheel alignment consists of adjusting the angles of the car wheels so that they are perpendicular to the road or the ground and are parallel to each other. Improper alignment of the wheels results in excessive tire wear, steering and tracking problems….”
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.