Tone is one of those words that describes an intangible, much like the word "wind". While you can experience "wind", you really can’t see it. You see the results of it, you know that it has been there, but it is really difficult to isolate wind from these effects of wind. Tone is like that too. You can’t reach out and touch "tone" but you absolutely can feel it and see the results of it when you are in an afterschool program. Tone is being embraced by an attitude that says to you, "Glad you’re here, breathing the same air and participating in the same activities"; "You’re safe here"; "You matter"; "You can trust me—I say what I mean and mean what I say"; "Your best interest is a top priority." A positive tone is affirming for everyone in the program.
Tone doesn’t happen by accident. A positive tone is set each and every day. Your program opening is the first opportunity you have to set a positive tone each day. Ask yourself, "How do we help staff and youth feel welcome here?" "How do we demonstrate to staff and youth that we value them and look forward to learning with them?" "How do we ensure that the time in our program is filled with opportunities to be successful, to be active and collaborative, and to explore personal interests?"
As the adults in an afterschool program, the tone of the program begins with you. Sometimes we can start out in a positive flow and then we notice that this is no longer the case. The tone is no longer positive and it is dragging people down. A strategy that you can use to reverse this situation is to "Stop", "Regroup", and "Reset" the youth in your program. Simply stop the activity, call youth together and discuss what’s going on and then reset the tone for the day or program component. You don’t have to wait for tomorrow, you can operate every day with the most positive and respectful tone.
Share with Consult 4 Kids the strategies that you use to affect the tone of your program and/or classroom. We would like to share what works for you with others. Send your information to firstname.lastname@example.org