Thursday, May 12, 2011

Frontline Staff Basics--#1

Certainly one of the challenges of after-school programming is having well-trained frontline staff. Many of the people that we hire have a “heart” for working with young people. They want to be a positive role model for young people and to help them with home work and plan and organize exciting events. In order to be successful, frontline staff must have mastered the basics. Consult 4 Kids (C4K) has staff development that will help you get your staff off to a wonderful start. First and foremost your staff must understand professionalism and how to interact with students, parents and school day staff. For many of the young people that we hire to work in our after-school programs, this is a first job, the first experience in which they really are the “adult” in charge.

For Program Leaders C4K has developed Vocational Training, complete with quizzes, tests, and exams to check for clear understanding. Chapter 3 for Program Leaders is entitled “Professionalism”. The chapter shares these 10 Keys to being professional and much more.

1. Learn every aspect of your job as a learning leader. Start to finish, this will help you be effective in working with young people.

2. When at work, speak and dress like an after-school professional. This probably means a staff shirt, khakis or dress jeans, closed-toe shoes, and a badge. Your overall appearance will influence how others see and respect you.

3. Keep your supplies and materials in a neat and orderly way so you can access them easily.

4. Take care to discover what needs to be done to make the after-school program exemplary and then do everything in your power to make that happen. Understand the needs and interests of all of the stakeholders—students, other after-school staff, principals, teachers, parents, and members of the community.

5. Use a tone in your speech and behavior that speaks of enthusiasm, cheerfulness, interest, and commitment, rather than anger, resentment, and hostility or say, “This is just a job.” Be careful to leave personal anxiety and issues out of the workplace.

6. If you make a mistake, apologize, learn from it, and move forward. This will give students permission to do the same.

7. Be level-headed. Know that when a student or parent challenges you, it is not personal. Listen to the message behind the tone and respond with respect. Learn the difference between the “WHO” and the “WHAT.”

8. When you agree to do something—DO IT, and do it to the best of your ability and on time. Under-promise and over-deliver—help the people you work with learn to trust your word. Do more than is expected and always produce high quality work.

9. Handle conflict at the lowest level. Talk out differences of opinion, being open to “seeing” things from another’s point of view.

10. Respect confidentiality. Keep information about students, families, and other staff members private. Your position will allow you to have sensitive information. Be a person that can be trusted with this information.

Go on line at and check it out.

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