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Author: Tara Donahue

Remember to THINK

This post originally appeared on the Breakfast Club Blog on November 22, 2013. This year, I had an opportunity to help my sister set up her sixth grade classroom. Outside the door, she had the following poster: T: Is it True? H: Is it Helpful? I: Is it Inspiring? N: Is it Necessary? K: Is it Kind? Although educators, whether they work during in or out-of-school time hours, have many of these mantr...

Using Voice and Choice in Afterschool Programs

As afterschool professionals, we give a lot of lip service to the phrase “voice and choice.” Theoretically, we understand that students feel more ownership of their afterschool programs when they are able to voice their opinions and provide input into the program. Sounds easy, right? Like most good ideas, however, implementation is much more difficult than it sounds. Students are most ...

Igniting Students’ Passion to Learn Through National History Day

Due to the nature of my work as a researcher and evaluator, I do not work directly with students. My classroom and out-of-school time visits usually involve me sitting in the back as a non-obtrusive visitor noting the interactions between the teachers and students. Typically, I will note the types of questions students ask and how the teacher responds. At the end of the session, I thank the teache...

The Story of Two Wes Moore’s: An Impactful Reading Experience

A few weeks ago, I heard a wonderful speaker at a conference I attended on transformative change. The speaker, Wes Moore, is author of the book, The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. Immediately following his presentation, I logged onto my Amazon account and downloaded his book. I was about halfway through chapter two when I realized that this should be the topic of my next blog. If you have n...

My Why: Purpose

It’s really hard to pinpoint one purpose, cause, or belief that inspires me to do what I do. After thinking about this question, I realized that I have a different approach and reason for working on each project I am involved in, both professionally and personally. But, if I had to sum it up in one word, I would say the reason why I do what I do is “impact.” Professionally, as a ...

Pomp and Circumstance: Engaging Seniors Before Graduation

For many high schools, spring break is here. Or, at least, right around the corner. When students return to the classrooms, extracurricular activities, and their afterschool programs, thoughts may turn to planning lazy summer days with no responsibilities, homework, or teachers! This is especially challenging for the 2014 graduating class, which is extremely susceptible to senioritis this time of ...

A Time to Reflect

Although it is cliché, as the end of the year approaches, it is a time to think about closing out the old year and bringing in the new year. As your programs and schools wind down for the holiday season, this allows us an opportune time to reflect on the accomplishments of our students, our staff, and ourselves. It’s also a time to think about what we did not accomplish in 2011 but what we h...

Teaching Creativity

A couple of weeks ago, I received a copy of a Newsweek.com story on one of the multiple listservs I receive. I confess, I don’t usually read everything that I receive through a listserv, and often, I will save an article or link “to read when I have time.” This article, however, caught my eye, and I am really grateful I took a further look. Titled The Creativity Crisis: For the F...

The Importance of Being Intentional

Sue, an afterschool staff member, races into the school at 2:30 p.m. She came from a school across town where she has been a substitute all day. Sue gives a hurried “hello” to the school administrative assistant as she signs in for the day. Now, Sue runs down to the cafeteria, grabs the snacks, gets the attendance sheets to put on the tables, and figures out what activities are going t...