An afterschool professional is a person who understands that he is a role model and mentor for the youth he works with. As that role model, the afterschool professional is a learner—a person who understands that every experience does one of three things for the learner: confirms what the learner already knew or believed to be true, helped the learned adjust what he or she already knew—expand the horizon so to speak, or provide an “AHA” moment when something new was learned. When an afterschool professional embraces the learning and reflects on how that learning influences him and change his way of doing things, he gives permission to youth to be a learner and to change when it makes sense to change. The afterschool professional models the behaviors of a learner.
The afterschool professional learns how to build relationships with youth, families, fellow staff members, school day staff and the community. She learns how to communicate both formally and informally to ensure that everyone is “up to speed” and well informed. She also knows how to acknowledge and celebrate success with her students and her colleagues. The big three—build relationships, communicate formally and informally, and acknowledge and recognize others—is essential for the afterschool professional to understand and do.
The afterschool professional understands that while she is always friendly to youth she is not their friend and continues to coach, facilitate learning, guide, and when necessary hold the youth accountable for the behavior they exhibit—both positive and negative.
Being an afterschool professional means giving the best of yourself each and every day which will ultimately give youth permission to do the same. Share with us how you achieve professionalism every day. We’re interested in hearing from you.