Friday, July 1, 2016

The Coming Together of School and Afterschool Practices

By Sam Piha

Sam Piha
With the large increase in public funding of afterschool programs in the early 2000’s, people argued that if afterschool was to remain relevant, we would have to close the gap between afterschool and the school day. To many this meant afterschool should, among other things:
  • Mimic the school day,
  • Reinforce the school day’s core academics, and
  • Raise the school’s standardized test scores.

But, while afterschool programs worked to support the learning in school, successful classrooms began to employ strategies that looked more like afterschool programs. These changes in teaching and learning strategies was supported by the research and literature on the new science of learning, the brain and learning, the importance of social emotional (non-academic) skills and character building, the importance of summer learning, and the skills needed for success in school, work and life. The result was a change in how we think about children, not as students, but as learners.

For example, the Figures below represent a study of how teachers use their time when they structure their learning in a whole class/lecture format (Figure 1) versus serving as a learning facilitator using small groups (Figure 2). (CNYD Youth Development Guide, Chapter 5)

Figure 1 - CNYD Youth Development Guide, Chapter 5

Figure 2 - CNYD Youth Development Guide, Chapter 5

In the past, the worlds of education (schools) and youth development (afterschool/expanded learning) seemed so far apart. Today, they are sharing a focus on young people's learning. This is well illustrated by the similarities between the California Quality Standards for Expanded Learning Programs and the California Standards for the Teaching Profession.

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