One of my most memorable experiences was my first day of school. Just like a child, I was filled with nerves and excitement.
I spent the entire summer preparing. I bought a "teachery" wardrobe, organized a ton of office supplies and reviewed my collection of teaching materials. I was ready to be the coolest teacher this side of the Mississippi. I was going to inspire kids. They were even going to stand of chairs and tell me how much I inspired them.
My first day was anything but rainbows and butterflies. I had swollen feet after the first hour because I though heels were a good idea.
I just turned 22 so my students looked at me more as a friend rather than a teacher.
Students had their phones out and ignored instructions.
For some reason, everything that I read in my classroom management books and classes left. I could not remember how to handle situations. I didn't know how to take control of the classroom. (PS this is another reason why I think college students gain invaluable experience working at the Club). One thing that remained true during my first day and even my first six months, were my lesson plans. The things I spent so much time on. The things that were constant. They didn't change. While the student's behavior or other various elements changed, my plans were right there...on the corner of my desk...guiding me through the chaos.
I learned so much during those three years and miss it often. Once I started at the Boys & Girls Club, I realized how many parallels the two professions have. I am constantly able to use what I learned as a teacher in the Club setting, especially when it comes to classroom management.
I think classroom management and behavior are two elements after-school professionals struggle with on a regular basis. There are so many days we live in fear that we might not make the right decision when it comes to disciplining or structuring our areas.
Each month, I will release a new classroom management technique that can help in the after-school arena. I understand that after-school is different from a classroom, but a lot of these ideas can help with organization, accountability, and structure at your Club.
So today, we explore the almighty program plan!
You might be wondering...how can a lesson or program plan help my Club or staff? Here's a list!
A program plan provides structure
A lot of kids, especially younger ones who struggle with emotional and behavioral disorders, need structure. They go from a traditional classroom setting to a much less structured environment at the Club. Program plans provide a similar feel to a classroom even though the activities and materials are often less structured. It is a perfect blend on fun and structure.
A program plan encourages organization
A lot of times, program staff can be overwhelmed with the multiple responsibilities they have. If program plans are already complete, staff do not have to scramble to figure out what to do with 25 kids. Program plans ensure that kids are avoiding the F word (free time) which results is limited incident and behavior reports. Also, staff feel more prepared and confident with what they are teaching members.
A program plan holds staff accountable
If directors want to ensure the Formula for Impact is being used in the Club setting, a program plan is a great way to do it. You can keep track of what your staff are doing each day, what programs and clubs they are offering to members, and what kind of progress they are making.
A program plan encourages high-yield activities
This is one of my favorite reasons to use a program plan. Ask any of my staff or anyone who has attended a classroom management training of mine. I hate the F word. Free time is not something I use at the Club often. Sometimes it is great if members earn it and it is structured (i.e. if we finish this SMART Moves lesson, you can spend 10 minutes on X website playing whatever games you want.) A program plan limits the time kids are doing random things and that is important to me.
Program plans are reproducible
If a program is deemed successful, it can last for years! Once it is made once...it can be reproduced, edited, etc. Also, if you have a floater staff filling in for an absent staff, they can look at the program plan if you want the program to stay on track!
Program plans ensure programs are measurable
Program plans are a great way to measure the efficacy of a program. Just like national programs, program plans offer ways to measure success and achievement during the tenure of the program.
Program plans make it easier for you to apply for awards and grants
There are a ton of award and grant opportunities for after-school professionals. Program plans provide a lot of information necessary for applications.
Every Fall, Spring, and Summer my staff use templates to develop program plans. They can be used for both national and local programs and make the implementation process easier and better. They are also a great way to ensure that you are providing quality programming with a purpose!
Mr. Marcus is an amazing staff I have had the privilege of working with for a year. This means he has completed several program plans and implemented countless programs. He said, "I really like program plans because it gives a lot more structure to both my day and the kids' day. I know the activity I am going to do during each hour. I have been to Clubs without program plans and it is much more difficult to keep kids engaged and occupied."
At this point, you might also be thinking...Brandy, uh when do people have time to do these? They seem involved and time-consuming.
I'm going to offer some ideas:
If you have staff meetings, set aside time to complete program plans.
Our Clubs have down weeks (periods of time before and after the summer program) where Clubs are closed and staff get training, work on programs, etc.
Utilize directors to help create program plans.
If you see that at the end of the evening you have less kids (i.e. you are open until 7:00pm but most kids are gone by 6:30pm) utilize that last 30 minutes for some staff to work on program plans.
Click here for a Program Plan example made by my former Pre-Teen staff and current Program Director, Amber!
I can make several versions of a program plan template, however these are the ones that work the best for me, my staff, and my Club. If you need something in particular for your Club, please do to hesitate to contact me!