By Guest Blogger, Rebecca Fabiano
It sometimes feels like risking whiplash to try to follow all the emerging trends in our field and the potential funding, resources and opportunities that come along with them. Every few years, sometimes more often, there are new trends that are often accompanied by or are a part of funding opportunities. Some of these trends stick around for awhile until something newer, younger and sexier gets introduced. Some trends seem to come around in cycles.
Trends that I’ve seen come, go and distract from other, previous trends include (not an exhaustive list!):
• Apprenticeships (teens)
• Bullying (middle schoolers)
• Social Emotional Learning (SEL) (middle and teens)
• Family engagement (all)
• STEM (and then STEAM) (all)
• Girls and sports (middle)
• Trauma-informed practices (all)
• Digital badges (middle/teens)
• Literacy (elementary)
• Expanded learning (all)
• Out-of-school time (all)
• Project-based learning (all)
• Service learning (all)
• 21st-century skills (teens)
Terms like expanded learning and out-of-school time (OST) were used over the last five to seven years to refer to the time outside of typical school hours (7 a.m.-3 p.m.). OST seems to be the term that stuck and is more commonly used to describe the hours after school, on the weekends and even during the summer and school breaks.
Depending on the group you serve, some trends may be more relevant to you, but how do you know for sure if it’s worth “drinking the Kool-Aid”?
Here are a few tips for deciding if a trend is for you:
Here are tips for staying abreast of the trends:
Sign up for newsletters from local and national organizations like:
NOTE from Sam Piha, Temescal Associates: Other sources to follow:
And, check your local professional development providers, intermediary networks, etc. Don’t underestimate the importance of reading the newspaper and staying abreast of trends in your local community. And pay attention to national trends. Is there a national shift toward clean energy? Will there need to be qualified people to work in that sector? Will there be money available to train young adults to be prepared to take on this work?
It’s easy to feel like you have to integrate every trend into your program and worry that you might miss an opportunity. But the clearer you are about what you do, for whom you do it and the capacity of your staff and partners to do that work well, the easier it will be to say “no” and stay focused on your work.
NOTE from Sam Piha, Temescal Associates: I first met Rebecca in 2004 when she was directing The (high school) After School Program in Lincoln Square. I was so impressed with her approach that I wrote a description of her program for the National Institute on Out-of-School Time. You can view it here.
Rebecca Fabiano, master of science in education, is the founder and president of Fab Youth Philly, a small, woman-owned business that supports youth-serving organizations and serves as a lab to create programming for and with youth.
This column was originally published in Youth Today, the national news source for youth-service professionals, including child welfare and juvenile justice, youth development and out-of-school-time programming.
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.