By Sam Piha
For many years we have been promoting the effectiveness of mindfulness activities in afterschool- both for adult staff and youth participants. We have posted blogs, offered trainings to schools and created a 16- week mindfulness curriculum for afterschool leaders.
In this COVID-19 world, activities that help adults and young people release stress, be aware of one’s emotions, and stay in the moment have never been more important.
Mindfulness provides immediate feedback to adult staff. Taking a breath while letting the thought pass is indeed helpful when your inner voice is shouting doom and gloom. Interrupting the critical voices in one’s head allows a pathway for creative thinking (which is always necessary for afterschool programs adult staff).”- Allison Haynes, Riverside County Office of Education
On Thursday, May 7th, 2020 (10:00am-11:00am PST) we invite you to participate in an upcoming webinar entitled, Pause: Cultivate Grace for Yourself and Your Community. Grace is most easily found in the present moment. Journey with Laurie Grossman and Stacey Daraio to learn mindfulness practices that you can share with your community to live in the present. You will leave calmer than when you arrived and with resources to use and share.
Laurie Grossman is the Director of Social Justice & Educational Equity for Inner Explorer. She cofounded Mindful Schools in 2007. With Angelina Alvarez Manriquez and 4th & 5th grade students at Reach Academy in East Oakland, California, she wrote Master of Mindfulness How to Be Your Own Superhero in Times of Stress and Breath Friends Forever.
Stacey Daraio is Co-Director of Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation. Along with Laurie Grossman, she co-authored the Mindfulness in Afterschool, a 16-week curriculum, and has supported its implementation in schools and afterschool programs throughout California.
By Sam Piha
One of the most important things about expanded learning programs (ELP) is for youth to have the opportunity to check-in with a trusted, caring adult. This is reinforced by the literature on positive youth development, social emotional learning (SEL) and trauma informed practice. We have written several blogs and articles on the importance of checking-in with youth.
But how can we continue that when our programs are closed due to COVID-19 and our afterschool participants are sheltering in place?
Brandon and Ryan Sportel, brothers and educators, developed an online application to allow young people to check in, called HelloYello. We first learned about HelloYello while researching our paper “Promoting SEL and Character Skills in Expanded Learning Programs.” We will offer a webinar introducing this application and showing afterschool practitioners how to use it. Below we include some responses from an interview we did with Brandon. (Because this was developed for teachers, they use the terms “student” instead of “youth,” and “teacher” instead of “youth program leader”).
Q: Can you briefly describe what the Hello Yello app is for?
A: The HelloYello App is for strengthening student/staff relationships. It is a web-based app that students use to "check- in" with their teachers to express their thoughts and feelings, and share their daily experiences. Teachers, educators, counselors, and afterschool staff use HelloYello to understand all of their students from a "whole child" perspective, monitor their students' emotional wellness, and sustain trusting relationships.
Q: Can you briefly tell us the origin story about the development of the app?
A: Our work began with students that struggle with emotions and behaviors. As Education Specialists, we noticed that students benefited significantly when given opportunities to send us confidential messages about their feelings and experiences. So, we created a platform that validates student voices, and guides educators to be mentors and support staff. To read more about the origin story, click here.
Q: During this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, do you think this would be a good resource for afterschool programs that are shuttered, but want to maintain contact with their youth participants?
A: Yes, especially because it allows meaningful connections but maintains important social boundaries.
Q: Can you briefly describe how the HelloYello app works?
A: Students login and are invited to share their feelings (using emoticons), thoughts and/or experiences; program leaders view a feed of student comments, and respond by simply letting the student know they got their message. We invite people to visit our website to learn more.
Q: Is the app easy and safe for children to use?
A: The app is designed to be very easy to use and is completely safe since students can only share information with the leaders/coordinators in their ELP. HelloYello is also registered with The Student Data Privacy Consortium (SDPC).
Q: If program leaders are interested in contacting HelloYello, can you provide an email address/ name?
A: firstname.lastname@example.org Brandon Sportel, CEO
Ryan Sportel is a Dean of Students at Goleta Valley Junior High and Brandon Sportel is an Educational Specialist that runs a Learning Center at Barbara Webster Elementary. Both have combined experience of over 37 years in education. Brandon was the 2014 Milken Educator for CA, 2015 Santa Barbara County Teacher of the Year, and 2014 Carpinteria Teacher of the Year. Ryan was the Principal at Deveruex of Santa Barbara, a non-public school that served students at all grade levels. Both are highly regarded as pioneers in the social emotional learning space, and have had significant success in leading professional development training for districts on how to work with students that need mental health and behavior support.
Click here to review a recent article entitled, "There's An App for That- School Counseling and SEL Go Online."
By Sam Piha
Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation developed a survey to learn how afterschool programs were adapting to new COVID-19 developments. The survey was issued on March 25, 2020 and was closed on April 9, 2020. We received 304 responses and below offer an executive summary of the findings. In the parenthesis, we cite the percentages or the actual count of responses. You can find a link to the survey executive summary and the full report with detailed chart and listings of the responses.
PERCENTAGE OF PROGRAMS THAT ARE CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19: 91%
STAFFING EFFECTS: Most program staffing has been negatively effected due to COVID-19. Effects include: staff working from home (66%), lay- offs (20%), re-assignment of duties (17%), furloughed (20%), reduced staff/ hours or no work (9%) and other (9%).
-My three full-time workers including myself work from home my other 30+ workers are not getting paid right now.
-Staff have been offered the opportunity to work from our main office in separate spaces for the 8 sites maintaining safe social distancing.
-Clubs have reduced staff but are still providing virtual learning to youth.
If staff received re-assignment, they were re-assigned to work from home (15%), or to provide emergency services (8%). Other responses included re-assignment to youth group homes and crisis centers, distributing youth activity packages, and creating virtual or online materials. Respondents were asked by what percentage their staff was reduced. Their responses were 0-25% (27%), 26-50% (13%), 51-75% (11%) and 76-100% (48%).
We asked respondents how long they could survive while retaining staff. Their responses were: less than a month (17%), 1- 3 months (50%), 4- 6 months (8%), through the end of the school year (19%) and 6 months or more (6%).
REASSIGNING STAFF TO PROVIDE CHILD-CARE FOR EMERGENCY/ ESSENTIAL WORKERS: 28%.
PROGRAMS THAT PROVIDE SICK LEAVE BENEFITS: 66%. The length of sick leave varied: 24 hours (12%), 1-5 days (12%), 6-13 days (25%), 2 weeks (13%), more than 2 weeks (9%) and hours accrued (29%).
PROGRAMS REIMBURSED FOR LOWER PARTICIPATION DUE TO COVID-19: 55%.
TO MAINTAIN STAFF COHESION: Respondents cited communicate through email, text messages, phone calls (30%); communicate thought social media, Zoom conferencing and work emails (33%); engaging with webinars, online meetings, PD and other apps (26%); and daily/ weekly staff check-ins (12%).
-We will begin Zoom meetings this week. We are in constant communication by email and text. My staff have weekly assignment to do.
-We have video conferences to start and end the day. We are also logged into a group chat via Google Hangouts, so we can ask questions/ help one another during the day.
TO CONTINUE STAFF DEVELOPMENT: Respondents cited using online training/ webinars (54%); increased meetings, email and check-ins (6%); engaging in Zoom meetings (13%) and other (15%).
-After School Coordinators are creating weekly professional development (PD) and provide the PD through either zoom or google hangouts. One on One training depending on staff needs.
-We are using this time for long term planning that we otherwise don't take the time to do.
-We are very fortunate to be an SEL grant site. Our staff will have online virtual training and Zoom sessions that will focus on self- care and they will receive stipend dollars for participating. It will not make up for lost hourly wages, but it will help and we already know the quality and usefulness of these trainings are invaluable.
TO MAINTAIN CONTACT WITH YOUTH PARTICIPANTS: Most programs are seeking to maintain virtual contact with their youth. Strategies being used include: emails and text messages (17%); engaging on an online platform (19%); engaging with phone calls, social media (Facebook) (28%); sending out mail or activity packets (4%); engaging in Zoom meetings or calls (16%) and other (10%).
-Most of our districts have moved to instructional packets. We have given electronic copies of these to all of our staff. Each program is creating an online platform via Google Classroom and will be hosting live virtual homework help, and we are also working on virtual programming to be offered regularly throughout the week (e.g., interactive fitness classes, pre-recorded fitness challenges, interactive clubs).
-We have been using Parent Square, sending Robo Calls and updating our social media pages.
-Group texts and creating a youth targeted Instagram page. Only program participant youth are allowed to register.
TO MAINTAIN CONTACT/ SUPPORT WITH PARTICIPANTS’ FAMILIES: Strategies include: engaging on social media, Zoom conferencing, through other websites or updated web pages (26%); phone calls, texts or emails (42%); through food distributing or delivered activity packets (6%) and other (17%).
IMMEDIATE: Program leaders cited many different needs. They included: to care for staff safety and health (3%); better online options and greater access to technology (9%); supplies (11%); better guidance, information and planning (13%); funding (29%); increased online activities and resources (2%) and other (18%).
-We need to know what will happen with funding and how attendance will be tracked/counted during this time. Not knowing leaves my team with a feeling anxiety and uncertainty.
-Funds to pay staff to develop activities via our virtual platforms. Electronic devices to distribute to students to keep them engaged as 100 % of my students live below poverty.
INTERMEDIATE NEEDS: Program leaders cited many different needs. They included: to care for staff safety and health (5%); more guidance, directions and information (9%); funding (53%); developing greater access to technology (7%); supplies and activity kits (7%); long term plans (6%) and other (7%).
-Computer Literacy resources for parents who must oversee distant learning and external supports to students who may not have access to adults in home to monitor learning.
-Finding strategies to keep our students engaged, motivated, and productive through distance learning.
TRANSITIONING OUT-OF-SCHOOL WORKFORCE TO PROVIDE ESSENTIAL SERVICES: Program leaders suggested several ideas and concerns. Ideas included: providing childcare to essential workers (4%), offering grocery services (27%), offering delivery services (29%), developing activities, care packages and food distribution (27%) and other (11%).
-Supporting food pantry sites (packing, offloading, meal delivery). Creating activity books/ learning packages for kids to do at home that can be self- guided.
-Delivery would be nice. Food service for lunches. Working in collaboration with schools to make relevant, interactive fun videos for Club members.
-Our employees do not want to put themselves or their families at risk by transitioning to provide essential services.
OVERALL IMPACTS FROM THE COVID-19 CRISIS: Program leaders report that staff, youth and their families are very stressed and concerned.
-We are completely shut down and beginning in April we will lose about 170k in monthly revenue if schools remain closed.
-Unhappy stakeholders, children are uneducated at home, many parent(s) DO NOT spend time reading to their children during this crisis because they are out working trying to make ends meet, put food on the table, pay bills, and trying not to get COVID-19 while doing their duty to provide for their family.
-The feeling of uncertainty sits with all of us. My team has been working to create a virtual program/ platform for our students and families, but it's uncharted waters and many of them are discouraged. Stakeholders have been understanding and appreciate that we are trying to innovate and maintain a meaningful connection/support system to our students.
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: Respondents were asked to provide any additional comments/ changes/ developments to their program.
-Our management team and most of our team members share that they feel we will be stronger and better than ever after this experience. We're committed to our kids and to each other and we'll get through this and be even closer to each other.
-Please share these results with us. I am interested in what others are thinking. This will be good info for our stakeholders. Thanks for asking these important questions.
-We want our infrastructure to remain strong and need flexible funding so that we can nimbly respond immediately when called to serve, amid the crisis or once orders are lifted. We are most concerned with the physical and emotional wellbeing of our families and staff, now, as the pandemic worsens and when everyone reintegrates after this collective trauma.
ABOUT THE RESPONDENTS:
ROLES: Respondents varied from program staff member working directly with children (26%), manages a single program (33%), oversee 2-10 programs (28%), oversee 11 and up programs (16%), and other (6%).
LOCATION: Most of the respondents were located in California (54%) and Florida (43%). We also received responses from leaders in Texas, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Michigan, New York, Washington, Virginia, Missouri and Washington DC.
PRIMARY FUNDING SOURCES: CA State ASES (41%), CA State ASSETs/ CCLC (12%), Federal CCLC (19%), private funders (34%), participant fees (12%), city/ local (2%), and other (13%).
NUMBER OF YOUNG PEOPLE SERVED: Respondents represented programs serving 10- 50 (12%), 50- 100 (26%), 100- 200 (21%), 200-1000 (37%), 1000- 5000 (6%), and more than 5000 youth participants (.03%).
FULL REPORT DETAILS: To access a detailed report, including many of the “other- write in” responses, click here.
By Sam Piha
Many teenagers have been effected by the COVID-19 crisis including the closure of schools and youth programs. But how are they experiencing this crisis and how are they responding? Below are some examples of how teens are coping during this time.
“tbh” stands for “to be honest “. It is also the name of a podcast on KALW that is made by, about, and for teenagers. And for anybody else who wants to hear what's on their minds.
Many schools are shut down which leaves tens of thousands of students at home, finding ways to learn, to cope, and to find joy. The teenagers who make “tbh" put together a special edition dedicated to life during the coronavirus crisis.
To listen to the full podcast, click here.
HOW TEENS ARE COPING AND CONNECTING IN THE TIME OF THE CORONAVIRUS
Common Sense Media conducted a poll of teenagers, age 13-17, to gather their experiences of the Coronavirus restrictions. Below we offer the key findings and you can read more here.
Teenagers of color are more likely to say they're worried that they or someone in their family will be exposed to the virus and about the potential economic effect on their family. Hispanic/Latino teenagers are especially worried about the financial effects: Nearly nine in 10 Hispanic/Latino teens say they're worried about the impact on their family's ability to make a living.” - Common Sense Media
(Text by KTVU)
Talia is usually a busy teenager in Oakland, Calif. She plays soccer, studies hard and hangs out with friends. Or at least she used to. Her life looked very different before the coronavirus stay-at-home order was issued three weeks ago, upending her life, along with most of the rest of the country. So she and countless others across the country are turning to one of the few hobbies that hasn't been banned: Baking bread.
"I find it so satisfying," the Oakland Technical High senior said. "I have so much time, and I can wait for the dough to rise."
Locked in her home for much of the day, the 18-year-old's kitchen and culinary feats look extremely professional. She said she watches YouTube videos to help her hone her newfound craft. And she's not alone. She and her friends created a BoredBreadHeads Instagram account, where they are sharing photos of their finished products. So far, they've made bagels, cinnamon buns, focaccia, babka and donuts. Their bio reads: "Sum bored teens during q-time."
Clyde, 18, also of Oakland, was baking long before coronavirus shook his world. But now, he's making his own sourdough starter, pretty much out of necessity. "We didn't have any bread in the house and my parents are really resistant to go to the grocery store," he said. "So, if I wanted to make a sandwich, I had to bake my own bread."
Clyde said he has always loved the scientific wonders of turning a bacteria in the air into something that could be nourishing. But now that process is even more significant. "It just shows that not everything out there in the air is dangerous or contagious," he said.
TEEN TRAINING AND EMPLOYMENT
The Town Kitchen, a catering company located in Oakland, Ca provides youth with culinary training and employment. During this time, they are offering home catering and food delivery. Check them out here.
MORE RESOURCES FOR THE TEENS IN YOUR PROGRAM
(From Fab Youth Philly)
"We're excited to share some new resources that have been added to our Virtual Resources for Teens document. Each week, we are going to add additional resources that are teen-specific. This week we added three new topics and resources on VOTING, HISTORY and COLLEGE READINESS. For some teens, this is a good time for them to learn a new skill. There's also resources for mindfulness and mental health, because we know that this is a stressful and unusual time for everyone."
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.