Imagine setting goals and KPIs that truly propel your school year forward, crafting a strategy that ensures student enrollment, attendance, and retention - all while engaging parents and community. That's what we're unpacking in this enlightening discussion with yours truly, J Lee. We're also exploring collaboration with the school and community, and how School After Hours Consulting can support program directors and providers in meeting their objectives.
Hello, hello everyone, welcome to school. After our podcast where we talk about all things related to out of school time programming and education, I am your host, j Lee, and on this show it's going to be real interesting. It's going to be me myself and I, but I'm in the space of planning for the school year yes, planning. So I thought this would be a great opportunity to go ahead and talk about my planning process as we get ready for the school year. Some of us may have already started, you know, because school has started in certain areas, but for those of us that have just a little bit more time, go ahead and come and plan with me. So let's go ahead and get our pens, papers, all the things that we need. Let's go ahead and sit down at the conversation table. So when I sit down and start to plan my year, I think about the annual goals for each organization, the specific goals that they want to accomplish for the school year. Some of these goals may be identified as annual goals or KPIs key performance indicators and that's how you're going to measure the success within your year, and in that, there are specific buckets that you want to focus on. So, for me, when I'm planning my year and having that conversation with my supervisor or if, in training, those key performance indicators or annual goals will be discussed. So usually they're geared around these specific things. Student enrollment how many students are enrolled in your program for the beginning and end of the year, or for the beginning of the year and then each quarter or session that you may have? Another one is student attendance how many kids are showing up within a day? You know kids, but with their feet. If they like it, they're going to come back. If they don't, you might not see them for a while. So how are kids showing up in your program? Another one is community engagement how are you engaging the community? How are you collaborating with the community? In my mind, that falls under events. So what events are you having during the year that you're utilizing your human capital Well, also creating spaces for collaboration to do community functions? Another one is parent engagement how are you engaging your parents during the school year and that's another one that falls under events in my mind. Are you showing up for back to school night to let parents know that you are available? And this is a program that they should or want to check out. Another one for parent engagement Become a part of your PTA. That's the best way to get in touch with parents or find ways to engage with parents, because PTA also plans certain events around the school year and that's another way of collaborating within your community. Two birds on a stone. And, last but not least, student retention. How many students were you able to retain within your program throughout the year? Right, also, quarterly. That's going to play a role in this, because the students that you have participating in your first quarter may and may not be the students that's going to participate in your second quarter, but how many students were able to retain throughout each quarter to the end of the year? Right, so that's something to think about. It's usually based around those buckets. So once I know the goals for those things, I can go ahead and kind of plan around what I want my year to look like. So, for community engagement, maybe the goal is having four functions for the year. Right, shouldn't be hard. You have Thanksgiving, you have Christmas, you have other holidays that come about within the school year. So being in tune with your community, but also with the school, to see what they're doing, so you can have an opportunity to collaborate if you can. Right, because the same way that you have goals to meet for community engagement, they also have goals to reach for community engagement and parent engagement as well. So when I come to the table and see if you can work on a plan, go ahead and make that happen. So yeah, once I know the goals for those key areas, then I can go ahead and plan what I want to do throughout the year and what my percentages for each specific thing is. So, for student enrollment, maybe if the school that I'm serving, or the schools that I'm serving, maybe my goal or the annual goal or KPI is to have 30% of your student population in the school participate in programming, great, how do I make that happen? And then start to make a plan for the action steps that you can do, some things. Think about some things that you can do or some places that you can show up, advertise your program, the benefits of being in your program. Go ahead and have your data available. So, as parents and community members are walking by, maybe you can have a table set up at a function. As people come by and come by your table, you have things that they can look at and also having a sign of sheet to know and learn more information so you can do follow-ups. There you go. There's your community engagement right there and also gaining more interest. So once I have all those things in place, then I want to go ahead and create my schedule for the week. Dum, dum, dum Hope. Before I go into that, let's go ahead and take a minute and take a break. Are you a program director or thinking of starting a program? Maybe you need new curriculum that focuses on character development or technical skills. Maybe you need help establishing effective program logistics to have an impactful program culture, or, overall, you just need a program evaluation. Well, school after hours consulting case here to help, contact us at schoolafterhourscom and our contact information is in the show notes. We'll see you here soon. Welcome back everybody, welcome welcome. So in this conversation we are talking about planning for the school year. This is for my educators, for all of my site directors and program providers. Go ahead and plan out the things that you want to accomplish for the year. So the last place I left off was creating your program schedule. Right, so having an idea of how you want the flow of the day to go Once students arrive to the time that they need. What do you want the day to look like In your mind? Keep in mind there are some things that's going to be a must on your calendar or on your schedule, for example, snac. Snac for most programs is a must. These kids are coming to you later on in the day. They may need something to SNAC on and some programs do not end until about six o'clock. So it's usually a requirement to have SNAC for after school time program. So go ahead and figure out a place where you can go ahead and put SNAC. Another thing that you may want to consider is your mandatory your must do activities. So for some programs physical activity is a must and sometimes it's 20 to 30 minutes for every day or for a certain number of hours out of the week. Perfectly fine. So go ahead and figure out a spot where you want to have that physical activity to incorporate into your schedule for the week. So those are kind of like your non-negotiables for your schedule. Now, once you have your non-negotiables written down and kind of figured out what you must have, you get to get a picture of your wiggle room, the areas where you have time to incorporate extracurricular activity, like maybe a cooking class for a program provider, or even a crafts class, or even just having a free period where kids could go ahead and sit down, do board games for a certain amount of time as well as have free play Perfectly fine. So once you have your non-negotiables in your schedule, like I said, you get to look at some flexibility of where you can put other things. Now, one thing that I must stress and I say I must stress is please, please, please, put in your transition times. What do I mean? I'm happy you asked. Let me go ahead and tell you. So your transition times are the time that is in between two activities, so that walk from one class to the next class have a break in the middle of your activities. So, for example, if your students are doing, let's say, arts and crafts from three to 330, the next activity is going to be Outside sports. Perfectly fine. So your outside sports should not start at 3.30. Why? Because arts and crafts ends at 3.30. There was no time for you to transition from one activity to the next. That's what I mean by transition time. It is very, very important because, as instructors are doing their activities, they need to keep in mind a time when they can stop but also transition the kids to the next thing. Okay, so it gives them an opportunity to give children a warning, clean up spaces or those things. So once class is over they have a good portion of transition time to get to the next area and the next activity. Okay, usually for transition times I keep like a five minute transition time. So if arts and crafts ends at 3.25, the next activity, which should be sports outdoors, would be at 3.30. Okay, so that would be the starting time. They got five minutes to get to where they got to go. So hopefully at that time the instructor I usually have instructors give their kids a five minute warning before they have to clean everything up in transition. So it kind of gets kids into the routine of cleaning up, straighten up spaces, go ahead and lining up and then transition it together so that they can be one, so they can be to their next location on time. Okay, please, please, please include your transition time, okay, during your schedule, and then it gives you an accurate picture of the time that you have left in a classroom or for an activity in my mind. Okay. Last but not least, once you have your below the week or flow of the day scheduled together, you will go ahead and start planning those activities, those group activities. Now, I am a supporter of doing less work instead of more work. If you are returning to this position and you are returning to this site and you kept your activities from last year, go ahead and go through those papers. Go ahead and go through those lessons, see what you can recycle and go ahead and use those one more time. Do not make it harder on yourself if you do not have to. Every year does not have to always be something completely different. Adding some new things in to spice it up and to make it a little bit more fun and engaging, sure, no problem. But everything, every little thing, does not have to be a new activity. Okay, make it a little less work for yourself instead of making more work for yourself. Recycle the things that worked. Go ahead and add them into specific spaces or specific weeks that you want to have them. If you want to do a theme, go ahead and find activities that follow with that theme. So that is something that you are going to do for that week, okay. And for me, themes were great because it gave me an opportunity to reinforce a specific characteristic. So let's say I was following a social emotional learning curriculum and we were working on self-awareness For that month. I would have activities for each week that reinforced certain aspects of self-awareness and then do a follow-up at the end of each week. So I know that the kids took to it, but also give them an opportunity to apply it at the same time. So that is one of the things that I do and that is how theming your months or your weeks can work. Everybody is different. You got to do what works for you and what you are able to maintain. So think about theming in that sense, but also reusing your lessons from the previous year and your activities from the previous year. And then it gives you a chance to see where you can add curriculum. If you are doing curriculum for the year and I know curriculums are non-negotiable you got it. That is what you must do, but see where you can incorporate that in your planning for your activities and within your schedule. So I usually do not plan a whole year out. Some people are great, they are superstars and they have that capability. I do not. That's not who I am as a person. So what I like to do, especially starting out within a school year. I like to at least plan the first month, because there are some things that you're gonna figure out in your first month. You're learning your kids, you're learning your staff, you're learning people's strengths, you're learning areas of improvement all of those things within your first month. So within the first month I like to do the first week is Get to Know you activities. So we're doing Two Truths in the Lie. We're doing Human Bingo. We're doing I like that too A number of Get to Know you games so kids could begin to build a report but also learn a little bit more about each other. Second week, I usually do team building activities. That gives me an opportunity to go ahead and reinforce and build culture and also go over the expectations that I introduced in the first week. First week introduce your expectations, rules, what you're expecting from them, but also what they can expect from you. Go ahead and do that. That's very, very important. Foundational work is very important. Go ahead and let them know that in the beginning, have it posted everywhere as a reminder and make sure that you are going over it until they know it like their first, middle and last name. So usually that's when, the second week, I'm reinforcing the expectations, but also going over procedures that were introduced to them, processes, all those things, as well as incorporating team building activities for them so that they can learn each other and being reliable and being accountable, but also learning about themselves at the same time. And within the third and fourth week, that's when I go ahead and put introduced curriculum and those type of activities to the students. So in that time I figured out what staff is able to do, what I may need to coach them on. I understand the group of children that I have, what they gravitate to, so I can incorporate that into future planning, because that's important, but also to get a feel of how the culture of the program is being shaped. Is it going in the right direction? Are there some things that I need to reevaluate? Is there something that I need to fix? Is there something that is being done well that I want to highlight and continue to keep on doing All these wonderful things? And it's a time of self-examination, but also reflection. It's a good opportunity to talk these things out with your team, because with your team they have direct access to the children, so they can give you more insight that you may not always be able to get as a director because you're running around doing the things. So have these conversations with your teams and it's good to have it doing your planning time or your meeting time with them. And when you're also sidebar, when you're also doing your planning for your calendar, make sure that you have planned times to meet and check in with your staff. That's very important too, as you're checking in with them, see how they're physically doing, if there's anything they want to talk through or anything that they need help with as far as strategy is concerned or even character development is concerned. Sometimes in having those one-on-one conversations you're able to find out a little bit more about the individual, but also see you know what they may need help in Having those individual and personal check-ins. And that could be something simple, as at the end of the night, you all are sharing your highs and your lows. That's one thing that I used to do with my staff at the end of the night what went well, what didn't go well, what we need to work on. So you kind of have a chance to get ahead of whatever the issue or whatever the problem may be and begin to work on it and create action steps to go ahead and address whatever that thing may be. So use them as your sound and board. Yeah, team Work together, but, like I said, it also gives you an opportunity to learn a little bit more about them at the same time, as well as them learn about you and feel supported. Well, everyone, that is how I start my process of planning the year, but you know there are multiple ways to do this planning process, so I'm interested to know how do you plan for your year? Go ahead and leave me a comment. What are some of the things that you focus on in the beginning of the year, or what are some of the strategies that you use to plan your school year and what you want your quarter or your annual year to look like? I would love to know. Well, everyone, that brings us to the end of our show. If you like what you heard and you enjoyed our conversation, make sure that you're following us on YouTube, but also hit that like button so we know what you are enjoying. You can also find us on other podcast platforms like Apple Podcasts, spotify and Google Podcasts. If you wanna listen to our audio version as well, to get more behind the scenes stuff, make sure that you're following us on our social media accounts Instagram and Facebook at school after hours. Well, that's all I have for today. In the words of Mr Arthur Ashe, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can. Until next time, y'all bye-bye.