You Know SEL is Important…Now How do You Apply it Afterschool?

You’ve reviewed the research. You’ve read the articles. You agree that social-emotional learning (SEL) is critical to academic and life success for students. . . Now what? It’s time to explore actual practices you can implement tomorrow in your afterschool program, and learn a little about the “why” behind it all. Since the publication of initial research in 1990, educational organizations have integrated emotional intelligence into their programs through the process of social-emotional learning (or SEL). Megan Agee, Director of Expanded Learning 360°/365 with Partnership for Children & Youth, shares that out-of-school time programs (afterschool, before school and summer) are ideal environments for SEL skill development. “Key features of expanded learning programs (such as activities that support exploration and discovery, frequent opportunities for youth to work in groups or teams, providing youth with avenues for self-expression and decision-making, and fostering relationships between youth and caring adults) create the conditions for youth and, importantly, the adults who work with them, to practice and build skills together,” explains Agee. A critical component to successfully implementing SEL in expanded learning programs is to ensure the individual program already has a solid foundation of program quality. […]

Youth Service to Community Increasing Each Year at Coalinga High School

What do the Horned Toad Derby, Latin Dancing and the Coalinga Chamber of Commerce have in common? All of them engage the students of Coalinga High School’s After School Program! The Coalinga High School After School Program serves students from the communities of Coalinga and Huron on the west side of the Central Valley. As both a rural and Title I school, the Coalinga High School After School Program is poised to provide youth with engaging enrichment activities to which they might not otherwise have access. “Our program is student-driven so we strive to provide classes that will be meaningful to them,” explains Sharon Arce, Coordinator of the Coalinga High After School Program. “[We offer] classes such as cooking, improv, guitar and drama to provide students with real world experiences that allow them to master lifelong skills.” One bright spot of the Coalinga High School After School Program is its service to the community exemplifying the Collaborative Partnerships Quality Standard for Expanded Learning outlined by the California Department of Education. For the past several years the leadership team has partnered with the Coalinga Chamber of Commerce. Students provide support for the Chamber’s Annual Dinner, present at monthly luncheons, and help with some of the big community events, such as the Horned Toad Derby. This partnership is quite the success as evidenced by the increase in youth involvement and service to the Chamber each year. […]

Expanded Learning Community Steps Up to Address the Teacher Shortage

California’s Central Valley has enjoyed some much-needed rainfall this season to relieve the 2015 drought. But now, Valley communities find themselves hoping to address a different type of drought: teachers. Indeed, a teacher shortage is upon us. It seems like yesterday when we were faced with a recession and more than 30,000 teachers were laid off. Now, with an increased K-12 student population; higher student-to-teacher ratios; fewer college students entering teacher education programs; one-third of teachers approaching retirement; Common Core instruction and testing debates; and various forms of media promoting the negative side of teaching; we find ourselves amid a distressing deficit of qualified teachers. Educational leaders now turn to expanded learning practitioners—including thousands of afterschool and summer program leaders and tutors—as one solution to help fill immediate and long-term teaching gaps. Preventing the Central Valley’s most vulnerable students from negative impact Dr. Paul Beare, dean of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, is concerned about “the huge decrease” of people enrolling in teaching credential programs. In fact, he reveals that in 2008, 44,600 people enrolled in teacher preparation programs in California compared to only 19,000 who enrolled last year. […]

El Nido Elementary School Overcomes Rural Barriers with “Battle of the Blues”

At times, it can be an uphill battle for El Nido Elementary School’s afterschool program. This small rural school located in Merced County faces challenges with their budget, resources, transportation, and lack of space. But, those challenges do not keep them from being creative when it comes to running a successful afterschool program that benefits more than half of the school’s student population daily. With a little ingenuity, collaboration, and dedication on the part of teachers, administrators, and staff members, it is clear that the students are their top priority. “We are small and do not have resources like other schools but, we are creative and unique; and the kids really enjoy it,” said William Hernandez, director of El Nido Elementary School’s ASES Program. The afterschool program is largely dictated by the opinions of the student participants. For example, if students request a fashion design class, the afterschool program staff members try to figure out how to make it happen without the budget to provide sewing machines, patterns, or fabric. In the end, organizers have found ways to piece it together and ask a teacher volunteer to show students how to sew by hand. El Nido’s program also offers music, drama, and art enrichment classes. “I like the enrichment classes because [they] have different things I can’t do at home or during school,” said Cindy Jimenez, seventh grade student at El Nido Elementary. […]

Porterville Unified says YES to STEAM and Career Pathways Afterschool

If you think Porterville is a sleepy rural town with no opportunities for young people, think again. The Youth Experiencing Success (YES) afterschool program is innovatively combining Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM) lessons with career pathways to expand students’ minds and options. YES serves 13 elementary and middle schools that include more than 3,000 students who participate in the program. In addition to ASES funds, Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) funds have been invested by Porterville Unified School District to allow more students to benefit from the hands-on, project-based instruction after school. Even so, the program has a waitlist at every school. STEAM lessons incorporate career pathways Lily Hernandez, Porterville Unified School District’s afterschool program manager, explains that their programming is based on age-specific monthly thematic units. August features hospitality and culinary arts. September is about engineering. October is health sciences month. November involves digital design and multi-media. December emphasizes performing arts. January highlights law, justice and ethics. February explores education. March exposes students to environmental science and emerging agricultural technology. April introduces business and finance. May ends the year with career industries and a recap of the projects students like the most. […]

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