Your program is going well. Kids are showing up and enjoying themselves. Parents appreciate what you do for their children. Even the schools whose children you serve are pleased with the academic and behavioral improvement they see from students who attend your program. Life is good!! But…
What If there is more you can give your students?
I am fully aware that question has the potential to make you angry because you are already doing so much OR make you tired because you wonder if you have anything else to give. Let me explain.
Typically, when things are not running smoothly or not going well, someone will step up and suggest a way to improve. You can take a different approach, you can offer different program ideas, or you can streamline processes. When progress is not happening, it is easy to see that changes need to be made.
However, when things are going well, we have a tendency to keep doing what we are doing. We get into a routine and we stay there because, well…if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
Why look to change anything when everything is great?
The intent behind the “What If there is more?” question is to keep us on a constant quest to become better at what we do. The Weikart Center for Youth Program Quality Improvement describes it in terms of their “Assess, Plan, Improve” cycle. If we are consistently gauging our progress and implementing plans for improvement, even when we are doing well, the ultimate beneficiaries will be our students.
This is more of a mindset than it is a to-do list.
It is an awareness of who or what we might be able to connect to our program. Who are people in our community that have something to offer our students? What businesses or organizations can we partner with, and in what way? What activities do our students enjoy and how can we expand on those? What programs would our students like to have that we currently do not offer? How can we connect more students and families to what we are doing in our program?
Begin to ask yourself the questions about improving your program, and not just when you are there with the students, but when you are at the grocery store or driving around town or talking with someone at a meeting. Changing your mindset to consistently focus on improvement can have amazing results. Especially when things are already going well.
What If you can change their world?
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.