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.
By Guest Blogger Jason Spector, Policy Studies Associates
We are entering a holiday season unlike any other, with limited gatherings and far too many empty seats at the table. Out-of-school-time (OST) staff, youth, and families face deep grief, challenge and uncertainty. It is not a time where program evaluation is at the forefront of our minds, and when evaluation does come to the fore in the OST field, it is often in the context of service gaps, disparities, and young people’s learning losses. These are all too real and point to the deep challenges of this era, from the disparate educational and health impacts of COVID-19 on communities of color to the mounting academic learning loss that is inextricably connected to race and class across the country. 2020 is a year of intersecting health, economic, education, and racial justice crises; it is also the year where resilience has shone through and there is much to express gratitude for and celebrate in the OST field and beyond.
Asset-based evaluation can be a helpful, and hopeful, approach during this time and into the future.
What do we mean when we say asset-based evaluation? Consider the definition from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health: “Asset-based approaches emphasize the need to redress the balance between meeting needs and nurturing the strengths and resources of people and communities. They are ways of valuing and building on the skills, successes and strengths of individuals and communities, which focus on the positive capacity of individuals and communities rather than solely on their needs, deficits and problems. These assets can act as the foundation from which to build a positive future.” In short, assets do not diminish problems and needs, but they do serve as a broadened foundation upon which to build an evaluation strategy.
How can an asset-based evaluation approach help address your organizational needs during COVID-19? Here are some helpful tips to get started:
As you consider taking one or more steps toward an asset-based evaluation approach, be mindful of evaluation overload. It may be preferable to do fewer things and do them well during this time. Accordingly, be cognizant of matching your evaluation strategy to your organizational needs and capacity, so that asset-based evaluation doesn’t become ‘just one more thing.’ And as you dive in, please share your examples of how you practice gratitude and/or asset-based evaluation—I am grateful for, and look forward to, learning alongside you.
Jason Spector is a Senior Research Associate at Policy Studies Associates. He formerly served as the Senior Director of Strategy and Evaluation at After-School All-Stars. Jason recently authored a chapter in the new book Measure, Use, Improve! Data Use in OST! titled “What’s Your Why? Matching Evaluation Approach to Organizational Need.” He can be reached at email@example.com or on LinkedIn.
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.