Common Challenges to Enrichment Programs

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Common Challenges to Enrichment Programs 

Introduction

The benefits of afterschool movement programs are undeniable. Studies have proven that they improve student’s social and academic skills, and often reduce stress and enhance physical health.  In addition, the social interactions and fun learning environments provided by such programs give many students a new, positive outlook on school, increasing their likelihood of graduating. The $1.153 billion that the Obama administration allocated to the 21st Century Community Learning Center initiative in 2013 is strictly reserved for the funding of after school and summer programs, and is a testament to their importance. However, despite their access to substantial resources, many enrichment programs face obstacles that hinder their efforts to make an effective and efficient impact on the lives of young children. Often times, one of the greatest challenge in afterschool staffing is finding experienced teachers and providing them with services and evaluations that result in their ongoing career development. For there is no question that the quality of afterschool enrichment programs depends on the quality of its teachers.

Staff Assessment and Development

A standardized method for evaluation is key for afterschool teachers and teaching artists. However, today’s emphasis on the direct correlation between afterschool activities and student’s test scores, for instance, can result in the failure to measure other areas of improvement, such as reductions in anxiety, boosted confidence, and even better academic performance. Enrichment programs should also focus on how well we are educating the whole being.

The assessment process, therefore, begins with the hiring process and a commitment to the development of that teacher over a period of time with plenty of teaching practice and built-in professional development. It is also common for new enrichment teachers to have little or no experience with the age group they are assigned. Age-appropriate management and experience can be a common challenge to the world of afterschool teaching. Without monitoring progress and ongoing staff development afterschool staff will continue to have a more difficult time managing classrooms and effectively delivering content. In order to avoid these issues, programs should implement an observable, measurable and consistent approach to professional development.

Afterschool administrators should consider:

·      Regular visitation schedules from staff development team

·      Two observations per year

·      Mentoring and coaching

·      “Sufficient time, activities, and content necessary for increasing teacher’s knowledge     and fostering meaningful changes in their classroom”[1]

Staff Development Timetable and Costs

Staff

Training

Teaching

Session

Total Instruction Time

Support

Total Training

Ms. Amy

First Year

4 hours

14 weeks

Min: 36 hours of teaching

Max: Approx 180 hours of teaching

Training: 4 hours

One-on-One:

– 30 min. overview

– 30 min. first day

– 2 site visits (30 min)

– 2 class observations (2 hours)

7-10 hours

The time and resources invested in staff development pays off in teachers effectively delivering content, better managed classrooms, and greater skill-development. After the first year, your training cost reduces significantly as your returning staff benefits most from topic specific trainings and workshops that puts teachers on a path towards excellence.

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[1] (Loucks-Horsley, Hewson, Love, & Stiles, 1998)