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Professional Development in a Pandemic: ExpandED is Up and Running!

By Taejha Richardson, Director of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Initiative

The afterschool world, like so much these days, is operating amidst a plethora of unknowns. After a spring of lay-offs and furloughs, community-based organizations are scrambling to hire staff; figure out if they can run in-person afterschool programs; and determine best practices for engaging kids and families online.

ExpandED’s training team has always focused on giving afterschool educators the skills, tools, and knowledge they need so that their young charges can thrive. That mission is all the more critical given the difficulties so many young people face.

Over the past few months, as the dual pandemics of Covid-19 and racial injustice bore down on New York City, we at ExpandED took a step back to define our priorities for the current moment. We determined that the core mandates driving our work are:

·       To provide support for quality remote learning as well as in-person learning: Our training, coaching, and other supports will focus on building afterschool educators’ capacity to deliver high-quality, engaging, supportive, and age-appropriate learning experiences in a remote context.

·       To instill best practices for social-emotional learning in our trainings and programs: We will support afterschool educators in addressing the social isolation and trauma children have experienced during the pandemic.

·       To advance anti-racist practices in after-school: We will prioritize working alongside our afterschool partners to develop anti-racist culture, relationships, and learning experiences in afterschool.

With these principles front and center, our team designed a calendar of all-remote trainings for the 2020-2021 school year. In addition to our tried and true workshops, we also have added and adapted trainings that reflect the current times. Some examples include:

Anti-Racism and Wellness in the Classroom (Nov 10): In this workshop, educators will explore the various ways that racism manifests in educational spaces and the impact on childhood wellness. Educators also will explore considerations for creating an antiracist afterschool space through the environment, policies, practices, and curriculum. 

Analyzing and Adapting STEM Lessons for Better Student Engagement (Nov. 18): This webinar will focus on adapting lessons to support youth voice and build positive and equitable relationships with youth and fellow facilitators. Participants will explore the fundamentals of creating lesson plans for in-person and virtual facilitation in afterschool.

Differentiating Instruction with E-Learning Tools (Nov. 24): This workshop will teach educators how to use e-learning tools to differentiate instruction.

Ultimately, we want community-based organizations, educators and families to know that ExpandED is here for them. We know that now more than ever, it’s important to be flexible and adaptable in our approach. Therefore, our workshops will address the varied needs of programs operating in-person, online, or through hybrid models.

We are looking forward to continuing to serve our network and the field at large for the coming school year, no matter what twists and turns take shape!

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