Tuesday, January 26, 2021

VOICES FROM THE FIELD: Lessons and Take-Aways from 2020

By Sam Piha 

Between the COVID-19 pandemic, school closures, police shootings and the calls for racial justice, 2020 was a very difficult year. We asked people from the afterschool community to share any lessons or take-aways they've gained from this crazy year. Below are some of the responses we received. You can read all the response here.

Expanded Learning plays a vital role in the continuity of education during this time of pandemic, not only by providing staffing for a wide variety of educational configurations for distance learning, Expanded Learning is in a unique position to offering programming and learning experiences that not only address racial issues and equality, but gender issues and equality, marginalized groups and equality and Social Emotional Learning as whole. One take away is the need to identify more clearly the demographics that make up the Expanded Learning Field, who works in expanded Learning from a race perspective, gender perspective, cultural perspective, orientation perspective and so on.” -Director Expanded Learning, Los Angeles County, CA

Distance learning was good in that it showed us 1) How poorly many teachers support student learning and SEL development; 2) Online learning apps are not the panacea; 3) Educational bureaucracies get bogged down in regulations and labor rules. When this happens, resourced families and CBO's are able to overcome barriers to effectively serve students; 4) teacher-parent/caregiver communication has to improve even post-COVID.” -CEO Youth Service Non-profit, Alameda and Santa Clara County, CA

I think our organization has learned the important lesson of really listening to the community and developing plans that work for them! Flexibility and patience are key.” -Youth Worker, Harris County, TX

When the pandemic began, I was an Elementary School Assistant Principal. I was tasked with providing support to teachers as well as families in our at- home learning model that was not yet virtual. From the beginning our goal was to ensure student and family safety and well- being. What we all quickly learned is what we always knew, school is not just a building that students attend to learn curriculum. Our schools are the center of our communities and when they closed, we quickly rallied to ensure we did not miss a beat providing families with the support they needed to grow and nurture our students. During the pandemic, I was transitioned to a district level administrator working in Education Services as the Coordinator of Student Services. In this position I have several responsibilities that support the learning happening in schools but shifted my focus from curriculum and instruction, which had been my focus for my 15 year career, to supporting the social and emotional well- being of our students, families, teachers, and community. My role includes a focus on attendance, supporting the counseling departments, implementing professional learning with restorative practice, PBIS and focus SEL lessons, run the daily operations of the district community center and guide the work of the district and site nurses, the district social worker, and the community and site- based family liaisons. Through these interactions my takeaways are that in order to focus on teaching and learning the curriculum it is most important we meet the mental and physical well- being needs of not only our students, but our families and communities as a whole. My ability to be a strong instructional leader has only been strengthened by my understanding that stakeholder needs extend outside the classroom and the four walls of the school building.” -Coordinator of Student Services, Los Angeles County, CA

Have a fluid plan to help address new needs as they come. Work closely with partners to help meet the needs of the whole child and address needs specific to the community.” -Director of Programs, Los Angeles County, CA

Don't be afraid to try new ways of doing things and try and try again. Get ideas and reflections form the students you are serving. Don't under- estimate the tool that continued zoom meetings have on all participants. Take care to balance your time between work and home. Hold high expectations where necessary and let less important things go.” -Executive Director Youth Serving Non-Profit, CA

My take- away from 2020 would be thankful for my finances that saved me from having hard times. Be thankful for a job. My main take away is even though we marched for racial justice, until the cops who kill us black men are charged and sentenced, we still have a long way to go.” -EXLP Coordinator, Solano County, CA

The year taught us to put ourselves in a position where we must be more understanding, more flexible, and ready to expect and appreciate anything that comes our way. Working with kids has taught me that even they are having their own struggles, but they are willing to cooperate and put in the effort to be where they want to be. There are so many connections and differences we can make in their lives even if it is through a screen!” -After School Program Tutor, Fresno County, CA

Take-aways include needing to master better ways to have discussions about systemic racism and how to be anti-racist without stoking contentious anger...” -Youth Worker, Stanislaus, CA

I think the biggest take away for the year is to remember to appreciate what you have. Whether it's your family, your kids, your house, your job, friendships, relationships, love, nature, health, time... Appreciate it all. I know I've come to appreciate much more over this past year. Life goes too fast. Slow it down and enjoy it.”  -Program Coordinator, Fulton County, New York

Constantly adapt. Our staff members are outstanding. Love and connection are our strengths.” -Executive Director Youth Service Non-Profit, Mendocino County, CA

We are resilient; however, we need time to heal and mend. In 2017, we had the Oroville Dam crisis. In 2018, we had the Wall Fire. In 2018, we had the Camp Fire. In 2020, we had the North Complex Fire. Not to mention the COVID Pandemic. We are strong, dedicated and determined to serve our students and families with positivity and gratitude.” -Director of Expanded Learning, Butte County, CA

The lessons and take-aways for me, from 2020 are these: 1) put people first, focus on relationships; so many relationships have been fractured this year leaving people vulnerable and isolated. Our field excels at relationship-building we should be operating from our strengths and centering relationships, ensuring that staff have the necessary supports, tools and time to do so. 2) Funders can really make the difference between whether an organization not only survives but thrives in the coming year; they should focus on building and strengthening organizational capacity in a number of ways.” -President of Afterschool Training Organization, Philadelphia County, PA

We used to mistakenly think that success is the amount of time you put in at work. However, 2020 taught us that success is the quality of time we put in.” -Afterschool Coordinator, Solano County, CA

Relationships rule!” -Program Administrator, Alameda County, CA

Both personally and professionally, I've had two major takeaways from the year that was 2020. The first is that, as humans, connection with others is vital to our continued growth and development. The second lesson I learned is that we have to overcome the instinct to be fearful and engage in difficult and courageous conversations - with family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and leaders.” -Associate Executive Director/National Program Director, San Francisco Bay Area, CA

We have seen how many classrooms have tried to operate as they used to before the pandemic, employing the same curriculum but through distance learning. As afterschool programs, we cannot ignore the world around us. Our work is intricately tied to the issues, concerns, and ideas around us. We have to address and incorporate the current climate into our work with children. We cannot go on "business as usual," trying to hold on to old norms. We are skilled at adapting and meeting the needs, requirements, and new guidelines, coming from all directions, placed on us. We have been doing the work throughout the pandemic and have experience to share with those who'd care to listen.” -Assistant Afterschool Director, Contra Costa County, CA

The pandemic has laid bare that all our systems from education to healthcare to sustainability and every other system we live under are cracked at their foundations. Care for each other will be the starting point to reimagine new systems based on love and equity.” -Co-Director, National Afterschool Training Organization, USA

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

When There are Disturbing Events that Fill the Airwaves...

By Sam Piha

Source: cnn.com

When there are disturbing events that fill the airwaves, it is important that caregivers have resources to guide them on how to talk to young people about these events, and how to turn to self- care. Below are some resources that caregivers, including teachers, afterschool workers and parents, may find helpful.


Brooke Anderson is a Bay Area organizer and photojournalist. In the interest of self-care, she developed 6 Daily Quarantine Questions, which she expands on in detail in her article from Greater Good Magazine.  

Source: Greater Good Magazine

Source: samanthasbell.com

Temescal Associates and The How Kids Learn Foundation launched the My Pal, Luke project. My Pal, Luke features a virtual, talking comfort dog who promotes social emotional learning through his words and questions, including a “feelings” check-in with young children. Luke reads his favorite books with kids and educates them on how to make sense of current events. 

I am a clinical child psychologist and I've watched how Covid-19 has presented so many challenges for children and their parents. What children never forget how to do is play, even in the toughest of circumstances. And My Pal, Luke helps them do exactly that, with the added benefit of soothing and educating our children who are now pandemic on-line learners. What a great gift to all of us." - Dr. Diane Ehrensaft, Ph.D., Developmental and Clinical                                          Psychologist


Source: theconversation.com
Caregivers are struggling on how to best talk to young people about the historical significance of the violence that erupted in Washington D.C. on January 6th, 2021, when supporters of President Donald Trump stormed the Capitol building and disrupted the Congressional certification of Joe Biden's presidential victory. Below are some resources. The first is one that offers questions for different age groups and is available in English and Spanish.
More resources provided by EdSource are cited below:

  • Dr. Alyssa Hadley-Dunn, associate professor of Teacher Education at Michigan State University and founder of Teaching on the Days After: Dialogue & Resources for Educating Toward Justice offers resources to help educators teach about the attack on the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
  • The American Historical Association has launched "The Assault on the Capitol in Historical Perspective: Resources for Educators." The site offers historical knowledge to help understand the current crisis.
  • Teachers on Twitter at #sschat are sharing lessons about the lessons they are teaching on the attack. Teacher Brianna Davis from Camarillo offers this lesson. Sam Mandeville of New Hampshire is sharing this @PearDeck lesson.
  • PBS NewsHour Extra is offering three ways to teach the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
  • The American Federation of Teachers' Share My Lesson website has been updated with information to help teachers facilitate meaningful discussions about the attack on the Capitol with their students.
  • Larry Ferlazzo, a Sacramento City Unified teacher with a popular blog on teaching, has posted "Ways to teach about today's insurrection."

Below are resources provided by the California Afterschool Network (CAN):


The 4-H Organization writes, “Being able to help young people understand topics such as racism, implicit biases, and discrimination requires facilitating difficult conversations and providing youth with information that will help them to learn and grow… Both adults and youth must challenge themselves to learn and grow through these conversations to be better prepared for a more culturally, racially, and ethnically diverse world.” 

To this end, 4-H’s Program Leaders Working Group developed Just in Time Equity Dialogues for Youth: Lessons Designed to Foster Honest Conversations with Youth About Social Justice Issues. They also published Supplemental Resources which offers resources, readings and other relevant content to support guide use. 


It is important to note that there continues to be a proliferation of partisan news sources peddling deeply skewed or even inaccurate information that has helped fuel conspiracy theories and other harmful perceptions of the integrity of U.S. elections. Below is a resource to help educators prepare their youth for deciphering fake news:

Brooke Anderson 
is a Bay Area-based organizer and photojournalist. She has spent 20 years building movements for social, economic, racial, and ecological justice. She is a proud union member of the Pacific Media Workers Guild, CWA 39521, and AFL-CIO. She’s on Twitter and Instagram at @movementphotographer.
Dr. Diane Ehrensaft
is a developmental and clinical psychologist, Director of Mental Health at the Child and Adolescent Gender Center and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of California San Francisco. She has been a frequent contributor to our LIAS blog and the How Kids Learn conference. You can review her blog responses here and view a video presentation here.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Best of 2020

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.


Blog Interviews

Guest 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.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Pre-COVID Resources Taking on a New Value

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.).

Let Youth Lead

Source: FAB Youth Philly By Guest Blogger, Rebecca Fabiano, Founder & President, FAB Youth Philly (This was originally published on the ...