Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Joyful

All of us at Temescal Associates, the How Kids Learn Foundation, and the Learning in Afterschool & Summer Project wish you a peaceful and restful holiday! On our part, we are most grateful to all of you who work hard to support our youth in out of school time. 


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Growing Out-of-School Time Field

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
Helen Janc Malone is Editor in Chief of a new book series entitled Current Issues in Out-of-School Time (OST). Her complete bio is below. Dr. Malone was invited to share her thoughts and lead a small group session at the How Kids Learn VII conference on the future of afterschool. She agreed to answer a few interview questions for this blog post. 






Q: What inspired you to put together this book series on out-of-school time? 

A: It was a confluence of events that came together with perfect timing... As my
Dr. Helen Janc Malone
officers and I were preparing for the 10th anniversary celebration of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Out-of-School Time Special Interest Group (OST SIG), I began conversations with colleagues about the best ways to bring voices from across the OST field into a conversation about where we are today and where we should be heading as a field. Simultaneously, Information Age Publishing reached out and asked me to create a book series that would serve as a platform to bridge research and practice and to engage the field in a dialogue about salient OST issues. 

The first book in this new series is The Growing Out-of-School Time Field: Past, Present, and Future (2018). The volume is designed to set the foundation for the book series, to address the progress, challenges, and opportunities the field faces, to lift-up broader trends, and to point to possible future paths forward. 

This book is a collaboration of 39 scholars, practitioners, and advocates who have dedicated their professional careers to improving research, practices, and policies that support OST. The book is purposely designed to focus on macro trends, to be accessible in content to diverse audiences, and to intentionally push our thinking in new ways, perhaps where we are starting to see emerging work but where we recognize more needs to be done.

The call for ideas for future books in the series is now open through December 15, 2017: http://www.infoagepub.com/series/Current-Issues-in-Out-of-School-Time 




Q: As you look to the next decade, what issues, challenges, or opportunities do you see for the out-of-school time field?

A: This book offers a number of questions to help propel the field further forward. They include:  
  • What are the ways in which the field can continue to balance a developmental lens while also broadening a learning frame? 
  • What incentive structures and mechanisms should the field invest to attract more professionals of color? 
  • How do we build career ladders and ongoing professional and leadership development supports for OST staff?
  • How do we build and align data systems that are responsive to the young people, families, and practitioners involved? 
  • How do we create meaningful research-practice partnerships? 
  • How do we more intentionally engage in an international dialogue and exchange of ideas to strengthen OST? 

Q: As you look to the future of out-of-school time, what advice do you have for the field?
A: The OST field has benefited over the years from being both malleable and adaptable in its terminology and approach. Whether before- or after-school or summer programs, OST has had a long-standing place as a partner to families, communities, and schools. Decades of research and evaluations have helped us define and refine what do we mean by high-quality programs, what is the impact of high-quality programs on development and learning, and what role does the field play in breaking down equity barriers.  

At the same time, as a sub-sector of various dominant sectors (health and human services, education, and labor), OST has had to make an ongoing case for relevance, especially in the policy arena. As we look to the future, there are several themes emerging from the book, including: 
  • The need to deepen our research into multi-dimensional identities of youth so that we can better serve and support all young people. 
  • Education policy is returning to the whole child frame, an approach that OST field has long fostered. The field has an opportunity to make its case for OST as a partner in both young people’s learning and holistic development. The increased attention to social-emotional learning is a timely vehicle for communicating this message and utilizing the existing spotlight on SEL to deepen both field research and practice. 
  • Post-secondary transitions and pathways into workforce are gaining momentum as broadening considerations in education. OST stands to gain by being proactive in exploring transition spaces, with intentional attention to young people who often face systemic and institutional barriers.
  • There is an ongoing debate about whether and how should OST professionalize as a field and what does that mean, given the great diversity of programs and contexts that fall under its umbrella. This conversation needs to continue with attention to career ladders and pathways and the meaning and role of youth-serving professionals as a lifelong career.
  • While school-community partnerships have a long-standing point of connection for practitioners, research is crossing these spaces only in pockets, with most of the research, professional conferences, and discussions taking place in siloes. Inviting scholars from outside OST stands to enrich the field, broaden connections, and help propel OST in new and innovative ways.

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Dr. Helen Janc Malone’s work within OST has been situated at the nexus of research, practice, and network-building. Over the past 15+ years, she has supported adolescent leadership development research and practice, help support the national network of statewide afterschool networks, conducted research at Harvard on OST (while a doctoral student), and served in 2015-16 as the Chair of the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Out-of-School Time Special Interest Group (OST SIG). 

At present, Dr. Malone is an adjunct professorial lecturer at American University teaching nonformal education, serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Expanded Learning Opportunities (among other journals in this arena). OST is also an important component of the Institute for Educational Leadership, where she is the director of education policy. 






Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Trauma-Informed Practice, Part 2

Photo Credit: http://www.garfieldcountyprep.org/


By Sam Piha

We know that many of the young people we serve have been affected by trauma - trauma through abuse, through violence in their community, bullying, the threat of deportation, discrimination against LGBTQ youth, racial oppression, and other experiences. How can we be sensitive to and better serve the needs of these youth? What is trauma-informed practice?

Below is part 2 of an interview with Dr. Marnie Curry (UC Santa Cruz) on the topic of trauma-informed practice. (See part 1 here.) 


Dr. Marnie Curry
Q: What does trauma informed practice (TIP) look like in its simplest form? 

A: At its core TIP is about forging reciprocal, trusting relations with children and youth. Ideally, children and youth are empowered to choose, design and possibly lead activities, which allow them to express themselves in creative, meaningful and productive ways. Trauma informed programs provide sanctuaries for children and youth marked by seven cultural commitments: 

  1. Commitment to nonviolence; 
  2. Commitment to emotional intelligence; 
  3. Commitment to social learning; 
  4. Commitment to open communication; 
  5. Commitment to democracy; 
  6. Commitment to social responsibility; and 
  7. Commitment to growth and change (Bloom 2005; Bloom 2007).



Q: In your writings, you use the term "authentic cariño." Can you say what you mean by this?

A: Authentic cariño is a holistic, trauma-informed approach to youth development, which is especially attuned to the needs of low social economic status (SES), Latinx youth and other youth of color. The Spanish word “cariño” translates to caring, affection, or love, but actually is more of a concept than just a word. I use this terminology to signal a departure from Eurocentric, maternal connotations of caring and to emphasize culturally and politically conscious forms of care. 

Adults and organizations that embrace authentic cariño braid together three forms of care: familial, intellectual and critical. Familial cariño emphasizes building robust, respectful and caring relations between and amongst program providers and participants; together as a community all members strive to genuinely support each other’s entire well being. Intellectual cariño involves nurturing the minds of young people and providing opportunities for youth to grapple with, reflect on, and address meaningful issues and perplexing problems. Finally, critical cariño reflects a social justice orientation that demands that care be undertaken with historical, political, and cultural consciousness of youths’ lived realities. 




In one especially powerful after school program authentic cariño surfaced in many arenas. For example, during diá de los muertos I witnessed youth creating elaborately decorated calaveras (skulls) of beloved ancestors and sharing commemorative stories of their loved ones in a community circle. The coach leading this activity was a well-known advocate for his mentees and would shadow them in school if they were struggling academically. He debriefed these observations with his mentees and together they constructed proactive plans to overcome obstacles, often enlisting the partnership of students’ teachers or school-based advisors. 

In this same program, I witnessed a soccer club successfully uniting to write and win a grant to obtain an astro turf field in a schoolyard that previously looked like a prison quad. These same futbolistas sponsored weekend soccer tournaments punctuated by half-time workshops led by youth, who educated players on capitalism and the Dream Act. Perhaps, most compelling was the way in which the youth development coaches from the after school program forged deep partnerships with school personnel in ways that meant that the division between school and after school became blurred. For youth, this meant that they experienced a seamless network of cariño that provided intense levels of safety and affirmation. 

This network of care proved invaluable when tragedies rocked the school community. In one school year, three youth affiliated with the school (a recent graduate, a sibling, and a current student) died by gun violence. The after school program played a central role in coordinating programs and services that not only helped youth process these traumatic events, but also which empowered youth to mobilize a vibrant campaign to address the root causes of violence and promote peace in their city.



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Marnie W. Curry is a researcher at the Center for Educational Research in the Interest of Underserved Students at UC-Santa Cruz. Her areas of specialization include: urban schooling; teaching and learning to support culturally and linguistically diverse learners; and teacher professional communities. She is deeply committed to bridging the worlds of research and practice and promoting educational equity for youth who have been historically underserved by their schools and districts. 

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Trauma-Informed Practice, Part 1

Photo Credit: www.ambergristoday.com
By Sam Piha

It is very difficult to promote social emotional learning and character building among youth who have suffered trauma. We know that many of the young people we serve have been affected by trauma - trauma through abuse, through violence in their community, bullying, the threat of deportation, discrimination against LGBTQ youth, racial oppression, and other experiences. How can we be sensitive to and better serve the needs of these youth? We asked Dr. Marnie Curry (UC Santa Cruz) to help us answer these questions by presenting at our upcoming How Kids Learn VII conference on December 5, 2017 and being interviewed for this blog post. Below are some of her responses to our interview questions.

Q: How do you define trauma? 
Dr. Marnie Curry

A: Trauma occurs when an individual or community experiences physical or emotional harm or serious threats of such harm. Stressors like community violence, domestic violence, child abuse, chronic neglect, hunger, traumatic loss, severe bullying, household substance abuse, police brutality, homelessness, and racism can by themselves or in combination have lasting adverse effects on children’s development and wellbeing. 

Trauma can be acute (resulting from a single incident), chronic (occurring repeatedly over prolonged time periods or generations), or complex (involving multiple kinds of trauma).

Q: Is being part of a group that suffers oppression included in your definition? 

A: Members of oppressed, nondominant groups, who daily confront racism and discrimination, who are surrounded by media images that criminalize and demonize black and brown people, who are mistreated and marginalized by the education system, justice system, immigration system and economic system, face persistent and toxic experiences that impair their health and wellbeing. However, because trauma is a subjective phenomenon and people respond differently to stressors, I do not assume that membership in an oppressed group automatically translates to trauma. I do, though, believe that many oppressed groups suffer from chronic, complex trauma. 

Additionally, I think the impact of trauma is experienced differently due to the intersectional nature of oppression. Trauma-informed practitioners need to be sensitive to how being, for example, an LGBTQ person of color or an undocumented immigrant woman inevitably involve unique contexts that differently shape a person’s response to trauma.

Q: What is trauma informed practice that is appropriate for afterschool workers? 

A: In some ways, I resist the notion that after-school workers, school-based teachers, hospital clinicians, social workers, etc. each have a different set of trauma-informed practices. For me, the compartmentalization of children’s lives into after school, home, school, community, etc. suggested by these silos, is antithetical to the holistic approach that trauma-informed care demands. 

Instead, I prefer to focus on trauma-informed practices, which prioritize an integrated and coordinated approach to youth development. Within this frame, trauma-informed practice involves adults recognizing the high likelihood that some (or many) youth participants have or are currently experiencing trauma. Skillful adult mentors possess a basic understanding of how trauma can impact children’s behavior and development and they strive to organize a program that is sensitive to the vulnerabilities and triggers of trauma survivors. They focus on providing a safe, supportive environment to promote healing from trauma and healthy development so youth may not only survive, but also thrive. They orchestrate activities and form networks of care aimed at restoring a sense of belonging to young people, their families and communities.




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Marnie W. Curry is a researcher at the Center for Educational Research in the Interest of Underserved Students at UC-Santa Cruz. Her areas of specialization include: urban schooling; teaching and learning to support culturally and linguistically diverse learners; and teacher professional communities. She is deeply committed to bridging the worlds of research and practice and promoting educational equity for youth who have been historically underserved by their schools and districts.