By Sam Piha
When there are disturbing events that fill the airwaves, it is important that caregivers have resources to guide them on how to talk to young people about these events, and how to turn to self- care. Below are some resources that caregivers, including teachers, afterschool workers and parents, may find helpful.
Brooke Anderson is a Bay Area organizer and photojournalist. In the interest of self-care, she developed 6 Daily Quarantine Questions, which she expands on in detail in her article from Greater Good Magazine.
Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation launched the My Pal, Luke project. My Pal, Luke features a virtual, talking comfort dog who promotes social emotional learning through his words and questions, including a “feelings” check-in with young children. Luke reads his favorite books with kids and educates them on how to make sense of current events.
I am a clinical child psychologist and I've watched how Covid-19 has presented so many challenges for children and their parents. What children never forget how to do is play, even in the toughest of circumstances. And My Pal, Luke helps them do exactly that, with the added benefit of soothing and educating our children who are now pandemic on-line learners. What a great gift to all of us." - Dr. Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., Developmental and Clinical Psychologist
INSURRECTION IN THE CAPITOL
Caregivers are struggling on how to best talk to young people about the historical significance of the violence that erupted in Washington D.C. on January 6th, 2021, when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building and disrupted the Congressional certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory. Below are some resources. The first is one that offers questions for different age groups and is available in English and Spanish.
More resources provided by EdSource are cited below:
Below are resources provided by the California Afterschool Network (CAN):
The 4-H Organization writes, “Being able to help young people understand topics such as racism, implicit biases, and discrimination requires facilitating difficult conversations and providing youth with information that will help them to learn and grow… Both adults and youth must challenge themselves to learn and grow through these conversations to be better prepared for a more culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse world.”
To this end, 4-H’s Program Leaders Working Group developed Just in Time Equity Dialogues for Youth: Lessons Designed to Foster Honest Conversations with Youth About Social Justice Issues. They also published Supplemental Resources which offers resources, readings and other relevant content to support guide use.
It is important to note that there continues to be a proliferation of partisan news sources peddling deeply skewed or even inaccurate information that has helped fuel conspiracy theories and other harmful perceptions of the integrity of U.S. elections. Below is a resource to help educators prepare their youth for deciphering fake news:
Brooke Anderson is a Bay Area-based organizer and photojournalist. She has spent 20 years building movements for social, economic, racial, and ecological justice. She is a proud union member of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, CWA 39521, and AFL-CIO. She’s on Twitter and Instagram at @movementphotographer.
Dr. Diane Ehrensaft is a developmental and clinical psychologist, Director of Mental Health at the Child and Adolescent Gender Center and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of California San Francisco. She has been a frequent contributor to our LIAS blog and the How Kids Learn conference. You can review her blog responses here and view a video presentation here.
By Sam Piha
This last year (2020) has been a difficult one, due to in part the needed calls for racial justice, a divisive election and the COVID-19 pandemic. You can click here to see how we worked to respond to these issues. Throughout 2020 Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation have posted over 50 blogs, some featuring the words of guest bloggers and interviews with afterschool leaders. We also released a number of papers and new initiatives. Below are some of our favorites from 2020.
Spoken Word (with Daniel Summerhill)
Most Viewed Blogs
Speaker’s Forums/ Webinars- In partnership with the EduCare Foundation
My Pal, Luke: This project is designed to promote social- emotional learning through his words and questions, including a check-in with kids. Luke also reads his favorite books and educates kids on how to make sense of current events and the COVID-19 pandemic. It can be easily embedded in distance learning efforts or used with in- person programming. To watch episodes of My Pal, Luke, click here.
By Sam Piha
Before the COVID-19 pandemic Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation created several resources and initiatives that have taken on a new value to the field given the emphasis on distance learning and the lack of opportunities for youth to gain employment. Some of these resources and initiatives are reviewed below. Check them out!
VIRTUAL VACATION: Because afterschool programs are looking for inspiring approaches for virtual/ distance learning, our program guide introducing Virtual Vacation may be just the thing. Virtual Vacation is an academic, cultural, and creativity-based program. It was developed specifically for an afterschool setting and can be utilized through distance learning as well. During a Virtual Vacation, participants virtually travel to a destination or period in history and learn about it through academic and creative components. Participants are enveloped by the culture of the chosen destination through a multitude of activities that also promote positive youth development. Take a look at our Virtual Vacation Guide to inspire your virtual learning planning.
DIGITAL BADGES: Afterschool programs that are offering distance learning are faced with a number of questions. One question is, "how do you incentivize young people's participation?" A second question is, "how do we best acknowledge young people who have completed participation in assignments related to distance learning 'classes'?" The answer may be the awarding of digital badges that can be stored in a digital backpack.
Temescal Associates developed the Center for Digital Badges (CDB) to serve as a clearinghouse for information and research on digital badges. It also offers a number of case studies on the use of digital badges by expanded learning programs and implementation support.
EMPLOYING YOUTH IN AFTERSCHOOL PROGRAMS: We know that many Summer youth employment programs were closed due to COVID-19, as well as many small businesses that traditionally employ young people. Can afterschool programs fill some of this gap by hiring older, school-age youth?
We developed a briefing paper on employing youth in afterschool programs. The purpose of this brief is two fold: the first is to inform high school afterschool program leaders and stakeholders on policies and guidelines related to employing high school age youth and the use of 21st CCLC funds for compensation. The second purpose of this paper is to document strategies currently being used by California programs to engage high school age youth through work within their afterschool programs.
Temescal Associates is dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development who are serious about improving the lives of young people. Our clients include leaders of youth serving institutions and organizations, school and youth program practitioners, public and private funders, intermediary organizations, and policy makers. Their work ranges from building large scale youth and community initiatives to providing services to young people on a day-to-day basis. To accomplish this, Temescal Associates draws on a pool of gifted and highly experienced consultants who excel at eliciting the internal knowledge and wisdom of those we work with while introducing new knowledge and strategies that can transform the day-to-day practices that lead to improved youth outcomes.
The How Kids Learn (HKL) Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. It is dedicated to improving the effectiveness of settings that support the education and healthy development of youth. This includes schools and out-of-school time programs. It provides educational and training activities that promote the capacity of organizations that support the education and healthy development of youth. Examples of activities include conferences, speaker forums, screenings of relevant films, training sessions, coaching sessions, the awarding of digital badges to acknowledge exemplar programs and the learning that happens within these settings. Activities also include the development and distribution of educational materials (papers, self-assessment tools, videos, program guides, etc.).
By Sam Piha
Providing opportunities for youth to reflect on and express their thoughts and feelings are a critical strategy for any afterschool program. These opportunities are essential to promoting youth voice, healthy youth development, social emotional skills and resiliency, especially those who have experienced trauma. Strategies and activities include sharing circles, poetry and spoken word, journaling, videography, art and the theater arts.
We interviewed Johanna Masis (Program Director, Oakland Leaf) on the importance of using sharing circles to promote youth voice and self- expression in afterschool programs. Below are some of her responses.
Q: Why is it important to provide youth with opportunities to reflect on and/or express themselves and their feelings?
A: There is a misconception that the majority of youth have an adult in their life that sits down with them and gives them uninterrupted, dedicated time to converse about what is going on in their daily lives. Families are stretched thin...even more so with the stress of the current COVID-19 era. Youth's feelings can be minimized given the increased stressors of current life. Having a platform for 20-30 minutes* to reflect on or express themselves is self-care. It's free. It's crucial. It creates connections.
*Regarding the 20-30 minutes: As an organization, we were unable to find hard data about the ideal dosage and duration for a circle. This 20 minute increment is what we do at all of our programs daily solely based on being able to give each youth participant an opportunity to speak/share once the prompt has been provided.
Q: Do you think that sharing circles are a good way to provide these opportunities? Why?
A: Out-of-school time (OST) venues allow for these opportunities to happen; it's embedded in our everyday practice. Youth learn to wait their turn to speak. They learn to empathize with their peers. Many of them end up sharing similar experiences that cut across race, religion, gender, etc. Dedicated time to engage in reflection also creates opportunities to connect their learning from the day and builds critical thinking.
Q: Do staff need special training?
A: Staff needs training first with regards to managing their own bias and assumptions about youth and their circumstances. So often, adults default to how "THEY" grew up. Talking about your feelings may not have been culturally appropriate or even a concept. Secondly, staff needs to know how to hold space and sit in discomfort. We don't always have the answers and that is okay. However, it's important to seek out what continued support may look like on a case by case basis. At the forefront of these pieces of training is the reminder that staff are mandated reporters. There is a legal obligation to report any harm a young person is experiencing.
Q: Can you provide one example of a sharing circle you conducted that resulted in a meaningful opportunity for self- expression? What age were the kids?
A: I supported a 2nd-grade afterschool instructor with a circle after we observed a carjacking across the street from the soccer field on which our youth were playing. Because some of the youth heard the screaming from the victim and saw the weapons the carjackers had, the instructor quickly brought them indoors and circled up while I was on the phone with the police. We let them express what they saw, let them ask questions, asked what questions they had, and reassured them that we would ensure there was a follow up with their families.
Q: Can you recommend any good resources/ websites for afterschool programs that want to learn more?
A: I pulled some resources we used to create our Oakland Leaf Restorative Justice curriculum:
Johanna C. Masis is currently the Program Director at Oakland Leaf. She started her career as a high school teacher and later joined AmeriCorps. She taught abroad in Japan and has, since then, dedicated herself to promoting creative ways for youth to learn in different capacities. She has directed youth programs in San Francisco’s Chinatown, Bladium in Alameda and Denver, as well as language programs in Alameda and San Francisco. Johanna first joined Oakland Leaf in 2013 as the Site Manager for International Community School Afterschool Program. For the Fall 2014, she assumed a new role as the Site Manager for Oakland Leaf’s afterschool programs at both the International Community School and Think College Now campus. In December 2015, Johanna Masis become Oakland Leaf’s Program Director. As part of the Oakland Leaf community, you can expect to see her energy, compassion, responsibility, work ethic and natural leadership skills in full swing.
Sam Piha is the founder and principal of Temescal Associates, a consulting group dedicated to building the capacity of leaders and organizations in education and youth development.