Friday, February 15, 2019

Collaboration Leads to Successful SEL Implementation

By Guest Blogger, Jennifer Peck

Jennifer Peck
As educators, afterschool providers, and advocates for children, we know social emotional learning (SEL) is the foundation for academic success for all students — especially children experiencing trauma and extreme stress. The challenge we face today is implementation and that challenge is why we joined others (ASAPconnect, CalSAC, California AfterSchool Network, and Temescal Associates) in forming the Expanded Learning 360°/365 initiative in 2015. That challenge is why The Aspen Institute released its recommendations for SEL implementation earlier this month, and why our partner, Temescal Associates researched and published Promoting SEL and Character Skills in Expanded Learning Programs.

Partnership for Children and Youth’s focus within the 360°/365 initiative is to assist California school districts with SEL implementation across the school day, afterschool, and summer. The American Institutes for Research evaluated Expanded Learning 360°/365’s work and saw impact like:

  • Increased Professional Development: Monthly videos, articles, and activities to build common SEL understanding; meetings to align practices; and sessions to build culturally responsive teaching practices and student and adult SEL strategies.
Source (clockwise): LA's BEST; Kimochi Dolls; and Educare Foundation
  • Collaboration Between School-Day & Expanded Learning Staff: Deliberate efforts built into SEL action plans included joint classroom walkthroughs and expanded learning staff participating in school-day staff meetings.
  • Stronger Data Usage & Sharing: Engaged in a cycle of continuous improvement using student data to establish system- and site-level goals, assess readiness, and track progress; including pre-post measures of relationship skill-building, SEL competencies, school climate, and program observations.

This evaluation affirms that collaboration and accountability are powerful forces for change — and that skilled facilitation is an essential catalyst for deep, effective collaboration. We are eager to share the lessons learned from the Expanded Learning 360°/365 initiative and hope you find this to be a useful resource as you expand SEL in your community.

If you have questions or are interested in partnering with us, please don’t hesitate to reach out. Thank you for everything you do for California’s students. Please share the findings widely! Here is a sample tweet you can customize:

Quality #SEL implementation takes collaboration between school-day, #afterschool, and summer staff, according to a new evaluation: #edchat #k12  

Jennifer Peck, Executive Director, has led the Partnership for Children & Youth (PCY) since the organization’s founding in 2001.  During this time, she has grown PCY to be the leading California intermediary building access to high quality expanded learning opportunities for students living in our state’s lowest-income communities. Jennifer led the creation of the California Afterschool Advocacy Alliance, the California Summer Matters Campaign, the California Community Schools Network, and HousED which builds on-site learning supports for students living in public and affordable housing. 

Dr. Shawn Ginwright
Temescal Associates recently sponsored a Speaker’s Forum led by Dr. Shawn Ginwright on the topic of Healing Centered Engagement.  For those that were unable to attend, Flourish Agenda is sponsoring a webinar on March 21st, 2019 at 10am PST on Healing Centered Engagement facilitated by Dr. Ginwright. This is a free online event but space is limited and filling up fast. To learn more, click here.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Best Posts of 2018

By Sam Piha

Since we launched the Learning in Afterschool & Summer (LIAS) project, we have published over 354 blog posts, attracting 410,062 views. In 2018, we published 34 blog posts, attracting 57,050 views. Below, we list some of our favorites and most viewed posts.

Photo Credit:
The Power of Sharing Circles (May 2018)
We know that bringing together young people and offering them the opportunity to have their individual voices heard in the larger community is an important practice. We are referring to “talking or sharing circles” - bringing youth together in a circle and asking each individual to speak while the rest of the group practices active listening. Read more.

New Educational Trends and Terms (April 2018)
In America, educational trends and thinking don’t evolve. Instead, they tend to swing like a pendulum or cycle back and forth. To see a good example, just look at the writings of John Dewey from the early 1900s. Read more.

Shawn Ginwright
Shifting From Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement (August 2018) 

Dr. Ginwright recently authored an article entitled Shifting From Trauma Informed Care to Healing Centered Engagement. In this post, we offer a few excerpts from his article and urge everyone to read it in its entirety. Read more.

In the Aftermath of Parkland: What is the Role of Expanded Learning Programs? (March 2018)
We were shocked and dismayed by another mass shooting, this one at  Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, FL. As a field that promotes safety, youth voice, and youth civic engagement, we commend the students that have spoken up about gun violence. Read more.

HEARTSET: Transforming Teaching & Learning (March 2018) 
Have you ever thought that the challenges that educators face today are different from any in modern time?  With political and social unrest creating a stressful environment, how can we best uplift ourselves and assist our young people deal with life and learning? Read more.

How Not to Lose Your Mind Over Every New Trend in Your Field (March 2018)
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. Read more.

Johanna Masis
Johanna Masis Sharing Circles: Cyphers (May 2018)
At Oakland Leaf, all of our programs incorporate the practice of Cyphers. We believe in the power of people's stories and life experiences regardless of how many years they have been alive.  There is a collective wisdom that exists and needs to be honored. When we practice Cyphers, or community circles, the benefits are immense. Read more.

An Interview with Researcher Deborah Lowe Vandell (October 2018)
Deborah Lowe Vandell has been a leading researcher on expanded learning programs since 1985. Dr. Vandell agreed to respond to our interview questions regarding her research on the field of afterschool. Read more.

What Difference Does It Make? An Interview with Milbrey McLaughlin
Milbrey McLaguhlin
(June 2018)

Dr. McLaughlin recently released a new book entitled, You Can’t Be What You Can’t See: The Power of Opportunity to Change Young Lives. In this post, we offer her responses to a few questions regarding her work. Read more.

Practitioners Speak Out: Serving the Needs of Immigrant Youth (February 2018)
We previously published a blog post on the issue of supporting immigrant families and their children in afterschool. We want to follow this up by hearing directly from youth practitioners from Educators For Fair Consideration (E4FC) that specialize in serving this population. Read more.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope

By Sam Piha

On Jan. 15, Aspen's National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development released a report, From a Nation at Risk to a Nation at Hope: Recommendations from the National Commission on Social, Emotional, & Academic Development

This report calls on all of us to ensure that all youth have access to quality social and emotional learning (SEL). We advise anyone who works with youth, whether in the classroom or in the community, to read this report. View the full report and its complementary research, practice, and policy briefs at

Karen Pittman
When we interviewed Karen Pittman (Forum for Youth Investment and Aspen Report Commissioner) for the History of Afterschool documentary, we asked her about the rise of SEL and where afterschool fits in. She responded, “The concept of social, emotional and academic development has really sort of come to a frenzy in the past couple of years. It's certainly come to the attention of schools over the past decade.

Where does after school fit into all this? You would hope that we'd be right at the  forefront, saying, ‘We've been doing this for years. We know how to do it.’

Unfortunately, because we've been calling this youth development, when the K-12 field started to say, ‘We need to do social and emotional learning’, they were developing specific curricula around social and emotional learning, and we have a little bit of a language difference with K-12.

We think on the after school side that we know that these are the skills that young people are building, and we have had a focus on making sure that we're meeting those standards for developmental settings, and what we talked about is building quality programming. We’ve had a little bit of a hiccup in making sure that K-12 educators understand that when we talk about quality programming, we're talking about creating settings where these skills can happen.” 

Ms. Pittman also issued a letter to youth development leaders and funders regarding how best to leverage this report by the commission. You can read it here. You can also read commentaries by New York Times columnist David Brooks, by Rick Hess and Tim Shriver, and by Chester Finn

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Teacher Strikes and Afterschool

Source: Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times

By Sam Piha

Teacher strikes are not new, but they are on the increase. In 2018, teacher strikes occurred in West Virginia, Oklahoma and Arizona. They also inspired smaller-scale protests by school staff in Kentucky, North Carolina, and Colorado. In 2019, we have seen strikes in Los Angeles (which appear to be settled), and there are rumblings in Denver, Chicago, and Oakland. Motivations for the strikes include increased wages for teachers and support staff, larger school budgets, and smaller class sizes. 

Teacher strikes are difficult for everyone – teachers, administrators, youth, and their families. They are equally difficult for school-based afterschool programs. This was recently reviewed in an article in Youth Today. To learn more, we spoke with an afterschool provider on the front lines about some of the challenges. See below.

"The big issue is that after school is being put in a position of frustrating either our teacher colleagues or our admin partners. We have been asked to have our staff come during the day to supervise the children, which annoys the teachers/picket line. If we say no, we annoy the Principal who is asking us for help as a partner. This is a total no-win.

We are working to keep the programs fully operational but only about 30% of students are attending school and you can only attend after school if you come to school. For average daily attendance (ADA) reimbursement contracts, this poses a tough financial situation. We have to keep the program open but get no ADA so we have no revenue. If we furlough part time staff we will lose them. If we pay them to show up but they have no students, we are wasting public and/or private funds. 

Source: WINGS for Kids!
If children need supervision before or after school during the strike, they deserve it. We would love to have the problem of too many kids. It is the opposite. We have many school-based programs. Yesterday the top ADA was 40. We had a few schools with less than 10 and one school where the principal told security to remove all kids from the campus even though the district mandated we run a full program. ADA was zero while our staff had to remain on campus.

We will not penalize students who do not come, in any way shape or form.  Getting the teachers to understand we are trying to help kids and families by being there for them while we fully support their right to collective bargaining is the hard part. We have no answers but we know we are not alone in really feeling the pain with this strike."

This raises several questions for afterschool policymakers and funders. Afterschool providers must be given guidance on the issues cited above. Although teacher strikes are considered a local issue, the funds supporting these programs are often at the state or federal level. Below we summarize some of the issues that need to be discussed and considered: 

  • Should afterschool providers be asked and agree to expand their hours in order to supervise children due to teacher shortages? 
  • Should afterschool providers be asked and agree to increase the number of kids in their programs during a strike?  
  • How will afterschool providers respond to a lower ADA? Will they be penalized? Should they furlough their staff?

It is important that these issues be considered and guidance be given to afterschool providers in advance of any strike. We look forward to seeing any progress on this and review any comments in responses to this post.