Ever wish you had a guidebook to navigate staff assessments and effective planning for your after-school program? We've got you covered in this episode of School After Hours. Join your host, Jay Lee as she unpacks the essentials of wrapping up the first half of the school year. We delve into the significance of mid-semester evaluations, looking at everything from transitions and group interactions to schedule adherence. Hear about the need for staff assessments around October or November, the value of observing student engagement, and how offering resources and suggestions can bolster improvement.
But we don't stop there! Is your program losing students? We tackle this head-on, emphasizing the importance of reviewing enrollment numbers and addressing any hurdles causing students to leave. Jay talks about the need to touch base with program providers, review the curriculum, and even plan for weather-related disruptions. We underscore the importance of reflecting on the year's highs and lows with your team and collecting feedback from the students. And yes, we've got goals - setting them for the next part of the school year, that is. Stay tuned for an announcement about an upcoming workshop for more insights on effective planning. So, ready to elevate your after-school program? Let's dive in!
Hello, hello everyone, welcome to school after hours podcast, where we talk about all things related to out of school time program and education. I am your host, jay Lee, and on today's show, we're going to be talking about how we can wrap up the end of the first half of the school year. So, as you know, we're about to go into holiday season and we are at the place of everything. There's a little settle that our sites in our programs and, before we go into all the fun festivities for holidays, there's some house cleaning, things that need to be taken care of. So that's what I'll be sharing with you today, and we're going to bring this series down into three parts. So we're going to tackle the first thing in this show and then I'll be showing the other two steps and the next recordings that's going to be taking place to wrap up this series. So, with that being said, let's go ahead and do some house cleaning and go ahead and check out our programs Before the end of the year comes about. There's a few things that I like to do for some in-house cleaning, let me say. So, one of those things that I like to do is a mid semester or mid quarter assessment. So what that entails is looking at your program from start to finish, from the time that you get there to set up and everyone comes into help, to the time that you are receiving children, wherever they may be coming from, to the time that they leave. You're going to be looking at your program and seeing what's going well, what things need to be changed, and also make an action plan for those things that need to be changed. Okay, and you do not have to do this by yourself. If you have an assistant, if you have someone that's a lead teacher or lead counselor that can help in this process, it is great because it's good to have an additional pair of eyes in case there may be something that you miss or there may be something that you may not have thought of to take into consideration as programming is happening. It doesn't hurt to have an extra pair of eyes to look. Or even if you get a supervisor your supervisor to come in and help you do the assessment on your program, which is perfectly fine. So these are my mid session, mid quarter, let's say assessments. So, like I said, I go ahead and look at the program from top to bottom, from the time that you come set up to the time that kids are being received, and some of the things that I like to look at in that process is what do transitions look like? How are students being greeted when they come into programming? Another thing that I have to look at is group interactions. How are they interacting with each other in large room setting and small room setting? Another thing that I like to look at is our schedule, to see if we are following the schedule throughout programming time. Maybe there may be some things that need to be adjusted to the schedule to match what's going on in the actual day. So making sure that we're not just running around doing whatever we want whenever we want, right that we are specifically following the schedule and the activities that's going on. Now, depending on the group, the size of the group and the age level of the group, some things might need to be changed based on their energy level, based on their level of patience, but also based on their interactions with each other. Sometimes they might just need to go outside for that first portion of the day or have a fun activity, just kind of separate themselves from the school day and kind of release that energy during afterschool for the first couple of minutes before going into a specific activity. So just making sure that we're following the schedule that was made. Those are the things I look for when I do a mid-semester or mid-session assessment. So for this part of the series we're going to be talking about staff assessments. Okay, so the best time I feel is to do a staff assessment, even if it is just a small benchmark assessment is around October-ish, november-ish. Why? Because at that point you've already started programming. Everyone has a little bit of a groove at this point. They have a pace, they have a routine and you're now at a place where you can kind of see how classes are done if a staff member has taken the role of leading a class or a specific curriculum. So if they are doing, let's say, a crash class, they're taking, you know, charge of doing crafts, or they have their own curriculum that they're leading or activity that they're leaving that they took ownership in. I like to take the time to go ahead and assess what that looks like. So I look at for student interactions, I look at their engagement, but also the difficulty level or the ease level of the actual activity have to take in mind. You know, student motor skills is a detail to most, if not all, the students in class, because you have students with different level of capability. So those are some of the things to take into consideration when you are doing an assessment. Is everyone participating, or some of them are just floating there and then they see, like, why are we doing this? I don't understand, we need to do something else and do another activity you know, and also how the counselor or the staff member is engaging the students. That's very, very important. So after I take down those notes and do like my specific assessment for you know a cheat sheet that I may have or may create for myself I'll go ahead and then have a conversation with the staff member just to give my idea of what they're doing well but also some things that needs to be improved to help them get better at what they're doing Right. So I like to also give resources. When I give suggestions, I do not like to just tell them this is what needs to be changed and then that's the end of discussion. To me, that is not effective coaching. I like to give them the things that I see that needs to be changed and then go ahead and give them some resources or some tools that they could go ahead and implement the next time they do another activity and help them make a plan of how they're going to improve and how they're going to get better. So when I actually do the end of the year or end of the session or quarter assessment, I kind of have something to see like what you've applied and how that individual has grown in their practice or in their ability to go ahead and improve those things. I never just like to say here's what you need to fix and say bye. That's not good coaching to me, but also give them an opportunity to share with you, based on their view, what are some of the things that they feel that they need to improve with, because sometimes individuals know, sometimes staff members know, sometimes people know. So giving them the floor to kind of share with you what are some things that they may feel like they need to improve on, but also it gives you an insight of what they may be seeking to personally develop within themselves as well. So I think that it's a good dialogue, because you have both people having that conversation of improvement and also me being the supervisor or the person that is in charge of programming, giving you that assistance that you're asking for, your question and I see that you need, and then, after doing that assessment with them and then creating that plan, we'll actually do check ins over time to see you know how the plan is working or there's some adjustments that need to be made, what other resources might help them. Do we need to schedule them for training and then go ahead and put that into practice with what's going on or what we had talked about planned out. I just kind of monitor their progress in their development. So, therefore, when I get to the end of the session like I said, the end of the session assessments, full assessment I could say you know what this, this, this, this and I feel like this did well, or if it's something that is not working and we need to at this point make a serious pivot, then go ahead and have that conversation too. But I feel like that's very, very important. So go ahead and do those staff evaluations at the same time, and we are going to be putting the final touch on our series. The end of the semester wrap up. So this will be part three. We already did part one and part two. One was basically talking about program evaluation, some things to do to evaluate your program, but also, are you reaching your goals? All those wonderful things in between. Part two was about staff and program provider evaluations. What should that look like? Some of the things that you could incorporate. So, now that we're at the last portion of the series, we're going to go ahead and talk about what is your next step after you've done all your evaluations. So your next step is planning. Planning for the next semester. Right, you have done your evaluations for your program. You've done your evaluations for your staff. More than likely you're done with the first half of the school year. Now you're going to go into the new year. So what do you want that to look like? And you know you're about to go on break with all the children, so all the fun festivities are about to take place. But I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in those festivities and having the fun and planning the fun that we don't really take time to go ahead and plan for that next part of the year based on all the things that we experienced. And it's a great time, if any, to do a reset, and sometimes we need that, as first part of the year may not have started off the way that you wanted to the school year. So there's always room to grow, but there's always room in places to redirect and reprogram not just yourself, but also your staff and the students at the same time. So you're meeting those expectations of what programming should look like and what you want it to look like, not just for yourself, for your students and your staff. So, as you get into this place of planning, a good place to start is looking at your numbers. So we have this portion of students that enroll in the first part of the school year and some of them don't always stay with us, which is perfectly fine. You know, sometimes kids get involved, parents get involved and they find out that it's not the right fit for them and their needs, which is perfectly natural perfectly normal. So they'll move on to do other things. What you want to keep an eye on is how many students have come out of the program within this time period, within this first semester, and tally up how many students have a left in, why they've left programming. So if there's something that you could fix on your end, this would be the time to do it, to continue to keep the students that you have been able to retain during this time, okay. So be okay with looking at your numbers From the time you have enrolled to this point, how many students have stayed in your program. It's also a conversation to have, not just with you but your higher ups, to see if there's any additional advertising that you may need to do to enroll more students. So if you're responsible for reading a certain number for each quarter or for each semester, if you're broken out into semesters, that's perfectly fine. So during this time you may want to go ahead and get a campaign together for when you go back into the school year after the winter break. So you know you're able to meet your numbers. If you are below your numbers and you may have been at a place where you just may want to recruit a little bit more, so talk that over with your supervisors will also talk that over with your principal if you are in a school building as well. Another thing that you want to do is check in with your providers, those that are coming in from the community and doing workshops, classes for you all. Go ahead and check in with them to see if they are coming back for the next part of the school year. Some of them may have other obligations, some of them may be doing other things. So you want to catch that gap. If you're going to be missing or not have as many program providers the following year For this second part of the school year, you want to make sure that you are covering that gap and go ahead and reach out to other community members, maybe find another curriculum just to kind of fill those spaces in, so when you come back it's not a we stuck, don't know what to do. You were able to sit down and plan and get that together before the end of the year or before the end of this semester. After you look at or check in with your program providers to see who's going to be returning and see if they want to switch up some things in their class, go ahead and share with them their evaluations at that time as well, so they know what they've done well and what they can continue with the following year. If they want to switch up some things just to make their classes a little bit more interesting, that's fine. If you feel like there's some coaching that may need to be done, based on classroom management or organization or just making sure that the activities are age appropriate, making sure that they're able to function and do those things. That's on their level and not above and beyond. You know. Make sure that you're also giving them that coaching that they need if it's something that they need to have and sharing their evaluations and then help them come up with a plan to house and make their program better at the same time, but also keeping forefront like what are they doing well and celebrate them for those things. So once you are done checking in with providers, checking in with your numbers, the next thing you want to do is go ahead and jump into the nitty gritty stuff. You want to sit down with yourself and also with your staff as well, because they also play a part in this. Look at your curriculum that you may have been using and see if it's something that is working in your benefit. What changes have you been able to see, not just in your students, but what skills are they putting into practice, based on what they're being taught in after school? Right, and find your improvements and your highlights and make those moments that kind of celebrate students as your year is coming to an end right or most improved in this specific thing for a student that has done, like the most community building activities. All the things in between highlight those students that are performing and doing well, but also students that are. You see them making the change and it's an opportunity to kind of give everyone a shout out for the hard work that they're doing, based on, you know, what you will have been practicing throughout this part of the year. So for those of you who have done that, go ahead and evaluate the curriculum and then decide what portions of the curriculum you want to use moving forward, or if you need to order more of that curriculum or change it based on what you and your staff have discussed and observed, maybe during the staff meeting. Right, go ahead and pick out your sections that you want to at least plan for January when you come back January and, if you're really really good, go ahead and plan on February. February can be iffy depending on where you are in the world Snow is a real thing and be shut down schools and ask for activities. So plan accordingly. If you get main things to get January planned out for the extra-curricular activities that you want to do or the curriculum that you have bought into and you've been practicing so far, you want to get January planned out and, if you're really really good, go ahead and start on February. But also, it's a good time to reflect with staff as well. What were your highs and lows of the year, what are some things that you all see that you have improved on as a group, some things that may need to be changed and addressed before the new year, the new semester starts, so that you're not making the same missteps. Also, in this time of reflection, it is a great opportunity to go ahead and get feedback from your students, see where they are, how they're like some of the things that you have been doing, and then you're going to get their ideas on some of the things that they may want to be implemented for them for the up and coming semester. So many times that we build our program and we do not always take into account what our students may need, what they may want to keep them engaged and keep them interested in coming to programming. So this would be a great opportunity to do that part of the reflection as well Get student feedback. That could be done in a survey, it could be done in a group activity, it could be done in a cahoot. It could be done in so many ways, playing a game, just to record that information and see where you could place those things for student engagement, based on the requests that they made during these activities. Okay, student feedback is important. We make our programming based on the student needs, hopefully. So make this an opportunity to give them what they need. And, last but not least, there are times that you may need to step away, to replenish you, to sew into you and just take some personal time to just kind of redirect and reflect and I just on what is going on in this field of work and at your job, but also reflect and think about what is going on with you and how you want to move forward in this career if you want to continue being in this field of work. So take some time to pour back into yourself as well. Plan out the days that you want to take off to have a self care moment or a self care day, and, outside of the vacations that's already going to take place during the school year, for schools may be closed and for those of us that don't have to work during those times, we have that time to, you know, kind of pour back into ourselves, but sometimes that's not enough. You know you may need to take some additional time, which is perfectly fine. Plan out your self care days and events and share that, not just with your staff, but also staff share those days with your advisor. Now, as an advisor, you may want to have a guideline and rules, for, you know, not everybody can take off in one day, like that's not going to happen. So make sure you're working as a group to coordinate. You know what days are best to take off so you do not have a programming day where you may have one or two people on the floor and, as the advisor, you run around trying to do this, that and the third and the other may have to share programming down for a day. You know, sit, plan, coordinate, because those times are very, very important. Can't pour into somebody else if you're not pouring into yourself. So those were the last bit of things for the end of the year wrap up. If you do anything different during this time of the year, go ahead and put that in the comments and let me know how do you finish up the end of your semester or the end of your first half of the school year? Also, we are having a planning workshop. So, for all of you that are listening to this and you want to get in on the live planning workshop that I'll be hosting for site coordinators, site directors, program providers, we're going to take place December 12. That's a Tuesday at 7pm Eastern time. It'll be about an hour and a half. We're going to be going over vision. We're going to be going over you know what are your goals for the following, for the next half of the year, but also how can those goals align with the vision, what are some of the things that you want to see and turn around. So we'll go ahead and have that conversation and actual put together an action plan to make sure that those things get done for you in the school year. Well, that's all that I have for you. Hopefully this was helpful. Let me know in the comments what you thought, but also how do you plan for the next part of your school year. Alright, job, talk to you soon. Bye, and if you are interested in registering for that workshop, it is going to be in the show notes, okay, so I'll put that down and bring you to register and I'll talk to you soon, later. Bye.