Editor’s Note: Please welcome brand new Breakfast Club Blogger, Brandon Alvarez. Brandon is an experienced Expanded Learning practitioner. He is currently a Program Manager with Sacramento Chinese Community Service Center, overseeing a robust high school ASSETs program. His other duties include participating in professional development leadership teams, local youth advisory boards, and managing the marketing and giving affairs for his agency. As an emerging leader in the field, Brandon aspires to create high-quality programs on behalf of the students he serves. A Technical Assistance Fellow and advocate for social change, Brandon is eager to push before and after school programming to the future of 21st Century education. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies (Public Relations) from Sacramento State and a Master of Arts in Education (Educational Technology) from National University.
As we prepare to kick-off the school year, I find myself thinking about how I can hone in on the growth and development of our front line staff. This time of August can consist of a whirlwind of events as Site Coordinators from around the country prepare for various professional development and training. It can be a daunting task to do because your front line staff is a crucial part of delivering high-quality programming. It is no secret that successful programs are staffed by talented and motivated individuals who all have a common purpose in mind. If I can train our staff to be the best they can be all while reaffirming their best qualities, I can ensure they are well equipped to teach and lead our youth this year.
IT’S ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Creating relationships is what we do in the OST field! As an extension of the regular school day, we provide our students with a lasting experience. They leave us each day with a feeling of trust, excitement, and of being a part of a dedicated community. This cannot be done without a well-trained and close-knit front line staff that has a desire to build each other’s capacity. In order to achieve this, establishing healthy relationships with our front line staff can go a long way. The following examples are what I think can assist you in establishing your dream team:
- Learn Your Staff – Do you take the time to learn about who you’re working with? It is essential to learn about a staff member’s likes and dislikes, upbringing, and aspirations. Finding these things out can set the tone for working with one another and creating a solid OST team.
- Goal Setting Session – Sit down with each staff member to set goals for both in and out of work. Sessions like these are all about personal growth and helping each other in this journey we call life.
- Allow Failure – As long as no one is harmed or put in a dangerous situation, allow your front line staff to try and fail in a safe environment. Working as a one to solve a situation can make everyone stronger.
- Listen to Your Staff – Listening is an effective way to figure out what is going on in their lives. Ask them about their schoolwork, their family, or if they have done anything exciting lately. This shows that you care about them beyond their title and in the before or after school hours.
- Lead with Empathy and Kindness – Find ways to make them shine! We do this with students on a regular basis. Show them how much you value who they are and what they bring to the program. It is best to thank them for doing a good job and giving it their all!
COMMUNICATION AT THE CORE
Creating a team that builds each other up is one that I want to be on! Communicating with one another all while being present and engaged with them builds value and allows for collaboration to occur. I have learned to build time in my schedule to allow for communication to happen among my staff, to allow all parties to be heard, and to listen actively because every member of my team is vital in pursuing our mission.
When staff are cared for and are inspired to be their best, they can unlock their full potential to achieve great results. When you create a tribe, you create a team that picks each other up, learns from failure, and unlocks the potential of the world around you. I find that taking the time to learn who my staff is as individuals and then fostering the strengths they possess is vital. I challenge you to look for the positives, and remember: we all go into this job to change the world, and teaching your front line staff how to be exceptional is one of the best and most powerful ways to do that! I wish you a fantastic start to the school year, BOOSTers!
For breakfast, I had a white chocolate mocha and toast.