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Program Design, Development, and Quality / Staff Leadership and Management

Got Alignment?

alignment scale

“Honeeeeeeeeeeeey, I’m hoooooooooooome. What’s the plan for dinner? Did you make it to the bank to take care of the girls’ accounts? Where are the kids?”

Sound familiar? Well, it should. It’s common daily conversation in many homes. In fact, this is the exact verbiage that came out of my mouth when I arrived home to my stay-at-home hubby yesterday. His answer: “There’s no dinner plan, girl’s are doing homework, and yes, I went to the bank but they won’t accept the girls school ID’s as identification so we’re headed back tomorrow.” To which, my mind contemplates some negotiation of dinner possibilities (Sushi?!?), some flexibility of the banking project timeline, and some verbal praise for homework getting started!

On the surface, this seems simple enough. It’s just your normal partner banter, coordinating plans, kid activities and resources. BUT WAIT! It’s more than that. It’s collaboration. It’s communication. It’s 18+ years of marriage. It’s ALIGNMENT!

If you’ve struggled to wrap your head around what it really means to align with your core day partners, you’re not alone. When the nebulous notion of aligning with the core day surfaced, I was one of THE biggest resisters of the idea. (Shhhhh, let’s keep this between us shall we?) However, I’ve succeeded in softening this resistance by defining alignment in the context of relationship building, making connections and achieving common visions for youth aka Married With Children!

So, here are some tips co-developed by our amazing CalSERVES staff. I hope they offer some guidance as you enter the new school year and work to build the necessary bridges with your core day partners for the best results for kids! (Rings and Vows optional.)

Alignment Means:

  • —Coordinating
  • Linking
  • —Augmenting
  • —Bridging
  • —Connecting
  • —Reinforcing

Alignment Doesn’t Mean:

  • —Duplication
  • —Replacement
  • —More Core Day Activities

Why Align?

  • Relationship Building: creating a culture of shared trust, understanding, and respect.
  • Making Connections: sharing resources, strategies, perspectives and practices.
  • Achieving Common Vision: creating agreements and plans for working toward the goals of student access to learning opportunities, academic achievement and personal success.

Ideas for Aligning:

  1. Academic Advisor: Create a formal position in your program for a highly supportive core day teacher to work with you in developing relationships and accessing information about the core day.
  2. Staff Observations: If possible, have after school staff observe in core day classrooms to build relationships with teachers, increase understanding of what is being covered, and developing classroom management/instructional skills.
  3. Staff Development: Attend as many staff development opportunities put on by the school as possible. It will support skill development, create a common language and build good will.
  4. Essential Standards: Get a copy of the schools essential standards and integrate them into your activities where appropriate.
  5. Common Instructional Strategies: Find out what instructional strategies are being used school-wide and make a plan to train staff on how to utilize them.
  6. Curriculum Pacing Guides: Get a copy of curriculum pacing guides and talk with teachers to see if they are actually on pace!
  7. Grade Level Meetings: While timing can be challenging, attending grade-level meetings can serve to build priceless connections regarding student attendance, homework, behavior and overall achievement.
  8. Meet Regularly with the Principal: The principal can unlock many doors and will almost certainly support your goals to align with core day instruction.
  9. Regular Communication Strategies: Create strategies for regular two-way communication with teachers. You can solicit regular input on student progress and classroom focus.
  10. Make your Intentions Known: Let the principal and influential teachers know that you are interested in aligning strategies that that support student learning in both the core day and after school.

This morning I had oatmeal and apples covered in cinnamon with a couple slices of cheese while my stay-at-home hubby slept in.

Author: Annette Zucconi


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