What We are Learning: Five Key Elements for Successful Virtual OST Programming
Keep reaching out to others as well, but don’t count it as a failure.Although it's new for most of us, virtual programming is clearly not going away anytime soon. We are so impressed at our network's ability to jump in, try things out, problem-solve, then share their lessons with others.
There’s no one answer for how to create foolproof programs, but here are the five key elements we are seeing in the promising practices:
1) Set and keep a consistent schedule: many programs are using the same time frame their in person programs would run, or simplifying to always 'meet' at the same time everyday. We've heard the same advice for links to meetings: use the same links each week if you can, so folks don't have to track anything else down.
2)Lower your expectations for participation: if two young people show up, that's enough. They needed it, and you were there. Keep reaching out to others as well, but don’t count it as a failure.
3)Meet them where they're at: find out what young people are doing on their own and use that to inform how to engage them, and where. The teen program at Moses Youth Center found Zoom was a no-go for high schoolers, but saw great participation through Instagram Live, where young people could comment and join in a way that felt more familiar.
4) Create a safe environment and TALK ABOUT what that means: virtual safety and boundaries can not be assumed, and addressing them directly will help young people feel secure, like the adults know what they are getting into. Check out thisexample of Gately's Online Ways created since the shutdown and reviewed at the start of each session.
5) Nurture space for silliness: when young people's frame of reference is using zoom/google meet for school, they'll expect anything else on the computer to feel like school too. Put extra effort into communicating the vibe of your programming and the informal nature of how it will feel to young people. Once you’re there, change your background ten times in ten minutes. Challenge them to find the silliest backgrounds. Play pictionary, or games that they know will make them laugh in the real world. We all need some silliness right now, and young people need cues to know that's what you're going for.
Do you have more key elements to share? Let us know! Want to read more, check out this EBook fromLeading Groups Online, their 'down and dirty' guide to virtual convening.
Annie, Dami & Medjine AFCOST Middle School Network