What If Wednesday: Commit to Life Long Learning.

Lifelearning Quote

What If you commit to being a lifelong learner?

When we were very young, it started before we were even aware that it was happening. It was mostly accomplished just by instinct and by observing what was happening around us. At some point, the activity became intentional, though it was not necessarily our choice to be intentional about it. We lived in this mandatory phase through most of our childhood and into our late teen years, after which, the activity became voluntary for us again. The activity I am talking about, of course, is learning.

As adults, we are not required to continue to learn. You might have to engage in continuing education for your job, but that is often limited in scope and focused specifically on what you do to make a living. Other than that, there is not much that makes it mandatory for us to learn about anything. We continue to learn as we live because sometimes circumstances demand that we pick up some new information or a different perspective. However, much of our learning, as adults, is unintentional.

Let me ask you a few questions:

When was the last time you took a class of your choosing?

When was the last time you read a book of your choice and finished reading it?

When was the last time you had a conversation with someone who had a different perspective than you do on some topic?

As afterschool professionals, we encourage our students every day in their learning process. We work to provide engaging activities that push students to learn and explore. We offer tutoring so our kids can improve their scores in academic areas in school. Our afterschool programs are often founded on providing opportunities for students to continue to learn.

What If you could model for your students what lifelong learning looks like?

Here are a few ideas to help you keep learning:

  1. TAKE A CLASS: This doesn’t mean “go back to school”, though it could be that for you. It is just about learning something you didn’t know before. Take a cooking class. Take lessons to learn how to play an instrument. Sign-up for martial arts classes. Explore online classes about education or sign-language or photography or anything that interests you. Intentionally learn something new.
  2. READ: Reading is one of the learning activities that we know is “good for us” but it often falls by the wayside in adult life. The average American reads one to four books per year. We regularly encourage our students to read. How much more impactful would it be if the kids knew we were readers as well? If you are looking for something good to read, I would suggest The Power of Moments by Chip and Dan Heath, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth, and The Book of Mistakes by Skip Prichard.
  3. LISTEN: Most of the time, when we have a conversation with people, we are working to communicate our thoughts and ideas. This is especially true when we are talking with someone who sees the world differently than we do. The next time you find yourself in a conversation with someone with a differing opinion, make an effort to really listen. Ask questions. Engage where they are. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with everything or switch to their viewpoint, but be curious about how that person arrived at their conclusions. You may learn something.

Our students listen to what we say, but they often pick up more from observing what we do. We can talk about what they need to learn and we can make a difference OR we can model intentional, lifelong learning and have a deeper impact, not only for our students, but also for ourselves.

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brad-lademann

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Brad Lademann
Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.

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What If Wednesday: Look for Inspiration

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It is conference time here in Missouri! We are just a few days away from the 2018 MOSAC2 Professional Development Institute (PDI), an event designed to engage afterschool professionals, connect them with other like-minded people, and enhance the quality of programming across the state of Missouri.

Before we arrive at a conference, we often have an idea of what we would like to get out of our time there. Maybe we would like to learn about the latest STEM activities we can use with our students or we might look forward to meeting someone who can help us with ideas on how to hire and retain quality staff.  For some, the conference serves as a break from the daily grind of programming for our students. That’s not a bad thing!!

The central purpose of most conferences is to provide an opportunity for participants to learn and to be inspired in what they are doing. The MOSAC2 PDI is no different. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind as we approach a conference.

  1. Be open to inspiration

Inspiration does not always come in a nice, neat package and it often comes from unexpected places. It may not look like inspiration, with rainbows and music and fireworks. It may just be in a word, in a phrase, or in a story. Inspiration comes when we pay attention. Look for it in the keynote addresses, the breakout sessions, and in conversations with co-workers and new friends.

  1. When you are inspired, let your first thought be a positive one.

We are often our worst critic. We can find ways to dismiss ourselves faster than anyone else could. We are so good at coming up with ways that something won’t work for us. While at the conference, listen to what is said, take it in, and intentionally think about how you might use and adapt what you are hearing in a successful way for yourself and your program. Don’t dwell on all the ways you can’t do something. Let the inspiration take hold and then go for it!

  1. When you have found inspiration, and you return home, take small steps to implement your ideas

When you are inspired, it is important to take action but don’t try to do everything at once. We all want to change the world but that doesn’t happen quickly. Understand that when inspiration hits, it is usually followed by a process. It is rare that we take one step and everything is how we envisioned life would be. Be ok with the process that is necessary to make your inspiration a reality.

We hope to see you at the MOSAC2 PDI in the near future. While you are there, have fun and enjoy your time but, in all things, be looking for inspiration. You never know where you might find it!!

Help Us Turn #MOLightsOn this October!

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It’s October and Lights On Afterschool is just 24 days away! Whether you host a small event in your program or a large community event, it is important to join this annual celebration of the importance of afterschool programs for youth, families, and communities. Check out some of our tips below and make the most of this year’s Lights On Afterschool.

Register your event.

Take 5 minutes and register your event with the Afterschool Alliance. This is a quick way to let others know your event is happening by putting it on the map and sharing some basic information about your event. This also allows us to track how many events are happening all around Missouri.

Get social for Lights On!

Download the Missouri LOA Social Media Toolkit and plan your Lights On celebrations with social media posts. This is a great way to raise awareness for your event and the day in general and allows you to add your voice to the national conversation.

Create a Lights On video and you could win a prize!

This year, Lights On Afterschool is happening right before the MASN video contest deadline. You can make the most of LOA and the video contest, by preparing a video for your event and entering it into the contest. There will be two grand prize ($500) winners and two runner up prizes ($250). Read more about the video contest here.

Reach out for help.

MASN wants your event to succeed! If there is any way we can help with last minute details or planning, please reach out to us and the MASN team can help. Also, make sure you visit the Afterschool Alliance Lights On Afterschool website, which is a wealth of resources for all things Lights On. From sample proclamations to press releases to event ideas, you can find it on their website.

For more tips and tricks, check out our LOA webinar PPT from September.

No matter what you do, remember – the main point of Lights On Afterschool is to celebrate all of the great work happening for youth and families in our communities every day. Youth development professionals, like you, work hard to make life better for the youth that you serve, and this is work that deserves recognition and a the chance to be in the spotlight at least once a year.

What if Wednesday: Don’t get stuck.

 

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What If it isn’t just the individuals within an organization who need to be flexible?

What If the organization itself needs to adapt at times?

If you have been working in afterschool for more than ten minutes, you understand that flexibility and the ability to adapt to circumstances is critical to maintaining your sanity.

Every day in an out-of-school time setting, situations arise that cause us to adjust our plans and actions on the fly. Whether it is a coworker calling in sick so we have to carry more of the load or an activity we have planned gets rained out, afterschool professionals know that the ability to be flexible and to adapt is foundational to our work with students.

We have to practice being flexible and adapting on a day to day basis.

There is a tendency in humans to want to remain comfortable. It is in our nature to find a place of safety and comfort and then stay there. The problem is that things keep changing around us. When we keep doing things the way we’ve always done them, over time what we offer can become less relevant to those we are working to serve. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. Our approach can become outdated. This goes for individuals and for organizations.

So, how do we combat this tendency?

What do we need to do to practice being flexible and adaptable?

  1. Be Proactive. It is usually easier to change on your own terms than it is to change because you are being forced to change. Set regular times to evaluate what you are doing as an organization and as an individual. Ask questions about why you are doing something a certain way. If you have a solid justification for doing it that way, then keep doing it. If you are doing something because that is the way it’s always been done, it may be time for a change.
  2. Stay current on trends in education. Read books and articles that are relevant to how you would like your program to operate. Talk to others in the field to find out how they are approaching different components of programming. Keep your mind open to ideas and opportunities that will improve your organization, even if it means changing the way you operate. This doesn’t mean you chase every trend and fad, but it can help you stay aware of how things are changing and how you might be able to adjust what you do.
  3. Look forward. You will need to be intentional about this one for sure. It is so easy to get caught in the routine of the day to day and to forget about the long term. A good practice is to sit down once a year (now would be a good time!) and talk with your coworkers about what you would like to accomplish throughout the year. As a discussion starter, talk about what your students, their parents, your funders, your community, and school administration would say about your program at the end of this school year. What will you need to do for people to say these things about you and your program? Keep an eye on the future in all that you do and adapt where you see the need.

Flexibility and adaptability are necessary when working with students. They are just as necessary as we look at the big picture of afterschool.

What If you practice being flexible and adaptable in order to help move your organization forward?

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brad-lademann

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Brad Lademann
Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.

Boys & Girls Club of the Ozarks: A Visit from Congressman Long

 

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Last Friday, the Boys and Girls Club of the Ozarks hosted Congressman Billy Long at their Branson Unit. Representative Long met with key community stakeholders, State Representative Jeff Justus, Branson Mayor Karen Best and board members of the Club to better understand the services and impact afterschool programs have in the Ozarks Community.

The Club tour was led by three Teens: Jasmine White (2018 Youth of the Year), Trinity Bendall (7th grader at Branson) and Sami Maybe (7th grader at Branson). Jasmine said, “It was an incredible honor to represent the Club for Congressman Billy Long.  I will never forget this amazing opportunity!”

During the tour the Teenagers shared the Clubs outcome driven programs and the impact the Club is having in their lives preparing them for graduating on time, being better prepared for the workforce, and making healthy decisions for a healthy lifestyle.

Representative Long engaged in conversation with youth in every department.  He was excited to hear about the program’s Forty-hour Internship Tryout (FIT) program and even offered Jasmine a future opportunity to do her internship in his Congressional Office.

Interested in hosting a site visit?

Whether it’s a simple visit or a more elaborate program, it is important that afterschool leaders invite in members of local, state, and federal government to show the importance and value of afterschool for youth and families in their communities. This can lead to more funding and better support for improving quality and sustainability of programs long term.

The Afterschool Alliance has some great resources for helping to plan your site visit. Check their resources for planning a site visit here.

The Missouri AfterSchool Network is also always willing to lend a hand in helping! Contact Casey at hansoncb@missouri.edu for advice or assistance in planning a site visit.

With Lights On Afterschool around the corner on October 25, 2018, now is a great time to start planning a site visit. It is important that we consider inviting out community leaders to highlight afterschool across Missouri, so that we can build support and work toward our mission of high-quality, accessible programs for ALL Missouri youth and families!

What If Wednesday: Planning for Success

 

Group of Business People in a Meeting About Planning

What If you are intentional about MAKING time this summer to plan for the fall?

By a show of hands, how many of you are procrastinators?

Ok, you can all put your hands down.

Next question, how many of you feel you work better when you are under pressure?

Yep, seems like the same people!

In the world of afterschool, procrastination often feels like a necessity as we take care of the daily challenges of the school year. Then, we jump directly from programming in the school year to a summer program, with no break in between. If we’re lucky, we get a couple of weeks “off” toward the end of summer. This is our life! Often there is so much happening around us, and we are so busy, that we put things off, whether we want to or not. We get caught up in the urgent and fail to pay attention to what is important. Many times, our planning time suffers greatly.

Planning is an easy thing to put off because the results of planning are not immediately seen. Yes, we can look at the plan and know that we will put these things in place soon, but there is not usually an immediate action. It is all for the future. And our “deadlines” for creating a plan are not usually hard and fast. Often, the target date is self-imposed, and studies show, self-imposed deadlines are rarely effective. What is a procrastinator to do?!?!

It is easy to say “Yes, I know I need to plan”. It is another thing to actually create the time to make it happen. Here are a few ideas to help with planning.

  1. Ask someone to help keep you accountable. As stated before, self-imposed deadlines are often ineffective because there is not an external accountability factor. It is too easy for us to defy our own suggestion to meet a deadline. What If you ask a colleague or a friend to check in on the progress of your planning? Knowing that someone outside of yourself is paying attention to the progress can be just the motivation we need to stay on task.
  2. Break your planning down into manageable chunks. Planning for a whole year, or even for a semester, can seem so overwhelming that it is easier to leave it to the side and do something else. What If you create a plan for nine weeks at a time or for a month at a time? Planning for a shorter time frame takes some of the magnitude away from the task and you can spend a shorter amount of time each day planning.
  3. Schedule time for planning and treat it as an appointment. Most of us are pretty good at keeping appointments, whether it be with a doctor, a parent connected to our program, or meeting a friend for lunch. What If you adopt the mindset that your planning time is an appointment time that you cannot miss? Setting aside time on your calendar to plan can make it feel like an appointment you need to keep. Don’t “find the time” for planning. Be intentional and “make the time”.

Not to put any pressure on you (well, maybe a little pressure!), but it is now the end of June. Most of us have a little over a month and a half before the school year kicks off and we hit the ground running full speed. Make time over the next 45 days to work on your fall plan. Put a planning time on your calendar, plan a little at a time each day, and find someone who will keep you accountable and on task. The more you can plan now, the easier it will be when the school year starts and you are neck deep in the everyday of afterschool. As one procrastinator to another, I know this to be true!

Happy Planning!

brad-lademann

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Brad Lademann
Afterschool Resource Coordinator
Missouri AfterSchool Network 

Brad Lademann is a dynamic youth speaker with 16 years of public speaking experience and 12 years of experience working with middle school and high school students. He has worked with teens in many capacities including teacher, youth pastor, coach, mentor, and afterschool program supervisor. He currently works with MASN as our Resource Coordinator and provides technical assistance to SAC and 21CCLC grantees.

Summer Advocacy Update

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Federal Budget Update

Even though school is out and many programs are closed for the summer, now is a perfect time to focus on advocacy efforts. The budget process really kicks off this month as the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Subcommittees will meet in the House and the Senate. The House started the FY19 budget process last week, and their initial bill maintains 21st Century Community Learning Centers funding at FY18 levels. The Senate is expected to begin their process later this month.

Read a full report from the Afterschool Alliance here. 

While it is encouraging that Congress does not seem supportive of the administration’s proposal to completely eliminate the program, there is still a long way to go in the process. A final budget is not expected until after the November 2018 election.

With that said, now is the time to contact members of Congress to let them know how important afterschool and summer learning programs are to youth, families, and communities across Missouri. You can do this one of a few ways:

  1. Use this super handy link from the Afterschool Alliance to send messages to your Representative and Senators or give their office a call in less than 5 minutes.
  2. Set up a time to meet with your member of Congress and/or their staff in district. Contact Casey Hanson at hansoncb@missouri.edu for guidance on how to do this!
  3. Plan a site visit and invite your member of Congress or staff out to your program. If you have summer programming, invite them now, or start to plan something for the Fall when school resumes. (Casey will help with this, too!)

No matter how big or small the action, we need to ensure that our legislators are hearing from us about afterschool. So whether you have 5 minutes to make a quick contact or several days to plan an event, you must make sure your voice is heard over the next few months.

National Summer Learning Day – July 12

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Even though school is out, many professionals throughout Missouri and the nation are working hard to keep kids learning this summer. That’s why on July 12, the National Summer Learning Association will host its annual awareness event – National Summer Learning Day – to highlight the importance of keeping kids learning, safe and healthy every summer, ensuring they return to school in the fall ready to succeed in the year.

The National Summer Learning Association website has many valuable resources to help you advocate for the importance of summer learning, including:

  1. A place to add your Summer Learning Day event to a national map.
  2. Resources to help promote the value and importance of summer learning.
  3. A “Take Action” Center to help you contact Congress regarding summer learning.

Summer Learning is a key piece of the out-of-school time puzzle, and it’s important that we continue to advocate for opportunities afterschool AND in summer, so that when school is out, we know youth have a safe place to be where they can explore, learn, and grow.