Learning & Teaching
Yesterday, when I was walking and listening to a podcast, in the April Fool's Day early morning snow flurry, I saw this colorful child's drawing zip tied to a tree. The message "We are in this fight together so we must remember to be kind to each other." brought me to tears. I was overcome by this wave of grief for all of the people and the ways of life we've lost and the people and ways of life we are losing.
As we enter week 3 of this strange new reality, many of us are adjusting and establishing new (hopefully healthy) routines. We are staying home and only venturing outside for the essentials. while we try to stand at least 6 feet away from the next person in the aisle. There is tape on the floor in the check out lines to help us mark the "safer" distances between us. So many people are afraid and anxious. I can see it in their body language and how they avoid eye contact. Even though, we are feeling a lot of sadness and grief and pain, for the time being, we cannot reach out to shake hands and offer hugs. I try to smile and send love and compassion to them from a safe distance. I am so grateful for the brave people who are delivering food, medicine, and supplies, stocking the shelves, checking us out, cleaning the door handles and surfaces. I am grateful for the teachers who are sending daily writing prompts and emails to parents and students, scheduling one on one FaceTime or regular phone calls, and classroom video conferences. I am grateful for the messages from after school programs who are sending encouragement and resources and activities for children and youth to do at home. And I am grieving.
Every day, I am trying to: practice gratitude, exercise, drink enough water, eat greens (not just chocolate). I am reaching out to friends and family and trying to be fully present for them when they reach out to me. I am trying cultivate joy and to focus on the positive things, and to laugh and dance. I am trying to keep focused on work, posting resources and inspiration on social media, and attending virtual meetings. I am homeschooling my son. And I am grieving.
Thank you, Melinda Barbosa, for reminding me that "If we don't name our grief, and feel our grief, we cannot heal our grief." I want to heal my grief and I want to support us all in healing our collective grief, so that we can continue to be here for the children who are growing up in this new reality, the children who remind us that we are in this fight together, and to be kind to each other.
To that end, I recommend that you read and listen to:
That Discomfort You are Feeling is Grief (by Scott Berinato in the Harvard Business Review)
On Grief and Finding Meaning with Brené Brown and David Kessler (Unlocking Us Podcast)
If you'd like to share resources with your colleagues, tell us how you are coping and healing, and helping the youth and families that you work with to heal, and continuing to find joy while we are physically apart, please submit a blog post by emailing. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Dear OST Community,
We are living through unprecedented closings of schools, out-of-school time programs, and non-essential municipal services. Our daily lives have been disrupted and many of us are worried about our children's learning, and supporting our families, our neighbors, and the children, youth and families our programs serve.
It is important to take this time, when we have been taken out of our regular routines, to reflect on what is most important and what can we learn from this experience. What are the ways that you are taking care of yourself so that you can care for others?
If you want to share stories about how you are staying connected while practicing social distancing, how you are supporting your co-workers virtually and how you are taking care of yourself during this time of uncertainty, please feel free to write to us and tag us in your social media posts @agendachildren.
In the meantime, we'll share resources that may be helpful for you and your families. Stay safe. Stay connected. We are here!
STEM Resources from TERC
PBS Mass Learning Resources
Scholastic Learn at Home
Edutopia: How to Support Home Learning in the Early Grades
National Geographic Kids
Go Noodle - Movement and Mindfulness at Home
12 Virtual Museum Tours
Click here to share your favorites with us!
Social Change Through Storytelling by Melinda Barbosa
We know storytelling can have long-term beneficial impacts in our work by creating a sense of belonging and connectedness, allowing us to reflect on our personal identities, and to build communities that create social change.
When you have deadlines looming, progress reports to write, and a new curriculum unit to put together, it can feel like there’s not enough time to just talk. Storytelling is more than talking. It’s a practice in deep listening and noticing within ourselves to uncover what is actually important, and asking us to tend to the emerging needs of the group.
Here are some tips on how to bring storytelling to your team:
Bo Lembo and I will be teaming together this spring to bring you an AFCOST storytelling workshop (from our Symposium sessions on journaling and storytelling for social change) where you can learn more about how to use storytelling with all members of your community to connect and create a shared sense of purpose. Also, if you want to see how you can use storytelling with young people, you can check out this 2018 Blog I wrote.
On the last morning of the Symposium 2019, Vanessa Fisher, Director of the Frisoli Youth Center, led a workshop entitled, Love and Leadership. She shared her own journey to coming to understand that the real power of leadership is when you can express love and compassion in your interactions within the workplace while still getting the work done and accomplishing the mission.
Click on this link to read Vanessa's handout and a participant's "take back" from one of the workshop exercises. We can all apply the wisdom shared in Vanessa's handout to any situation in which we are called to exercise leadership (which is a mindset, not just a position).
How do you bring love into your leadership?
If you're interested in attending a future offering of this workshop please contact Barbara Murphy-Warrington at Barbara@agendaforchildrenost.org.
In this video, a single Colombian mother tells us about the process of supporting her son to reach college after having faced a number of obstacles. She also tells us about how a CSI College Success Coach played a key role in the success of her son.
by Jess Leach, Community Coordination Associate at Agenda for Children
Photo: Fred Rogers Company
Anyone else who’s ever worked in a summer program has almost certainly experienced the same day as this one: It started extremely humid and turned into torrential downpour. My throat burned from reaching my voice over hundreds of children’s, my limbs lagged, and my head throbbed… there was no word for how tired my body felt. That night, I decided the only thing I wanted to do - the only thing I could do - was sit in a dark, cool theater and watch a movie.
Last week, we met with Janna, Asia & Norah, three middle schoolers enrolled at the Gately Youth Center and asked them how they felt about relationships with youth workers. They spoke about how some youth workers became like family, helping them overcome challenges and supporting them to reach their goals. As Janna told us, "I feel like its my family because every time I have a problem they work it out with me. I feel safe here."
One of the first things I learned in library school was S. R. Ranganathan’s Five Laws of Library Science:
By Jeneen Mucci, Director of Program Quality and Training, Cambridge Youth Programs
Jeneen leading a workshop on outdoor education at our 2017 OST Symposium
As a little girl I was always drawn to the outdoors. Exploring my backyard or the woods with my canvas backpack and a thermos of chocolate milk, I would hike around, turn rotting logs over to see who made their underside their home, would listen for the chorus of birds that draped the canopy of trees, and I would be content just to be a part of the living and breathing landscape that allowed me to be part of something bigger than myself. There was a mysterious pull that brought me into a world that was exciting, challenging and new. It brought me a sense of peace and most of all, it brought me closer to myself.
By Jess Leach, Community Coordination Associate at Agenda for Children, with Robyn Ginsberg, inclusion facilitator at Peabody 2-5
What is mindfulness? If you’re unfamiliar with the practice, that word might conjure an image of meditation - someone humming in total solitude, their mind empty, void of any complicated thought. When you see mindfulness in this way, it can feel impossible to involve young people. Robyn Ginsberg, inclusion facilitator at the Peabody 2-5 after school program, was experiencing that exact frustration when she first registered for Zach Soloman’s “Mindfulness for Kids” training in March.
By Melina O'Grady, Quality Coach and facilitator at Agenda for Children
As a facilitator of youth development training for the past two years, I’ve noticed a few things. My own middle school years were a chaotic battle for self and a search for place in school and the social realm. I saw most adults as barriers rather than allies in my journey. That was many (so many!) years ago.
By Melinda Barbosa, Youth Development Consultant & Director
Every day, in and out of school, middle schoolers are exploring who they are in the world. As youth workers, we can help them shape their story. Every concern, problem or “drama” that middle schoolers share with us can be an entry point to helping them form their identity. How do they see themselves in their own story? Victim? Hero? Supernatural Aid/Mentor?
By Jess Leach, teacher at Agassiz Baldwin Community and Community Coordinator Associate at Agenda for Children
My imaginary child "Jess Junior" and all the ways we thought she had changed and would change the in the future
By George Hinds, Director of Youth Employment at the Office of Workforce Development, City of Cambridge
As youth workers, I think we live our lives with an inherent optimism. We walk into our jobs every day believing that the young people we work with are going to change the world, and that we can give them the tools and resources they’re going to need to do so. Now, we’re practical, too…we know some of our youth will need more assistance or resources to reach the same heights as their peers. We know that structures and systems in the world around us will sometimes do more to slow our youth down than to raise them up. And so our optimism is tested. And sometimes, it is pushed to the brink…tragedy strikes, seemingly intractable problems rear their heads, and we have those moments where we think nothing can change.
By Kelly Royds, Impact & Evaluation Advisor
On December 8, 2017 we convened 30 leaders in the out-of-school time (OST) community of Cambridge to participate in a professional development planning day. The day was designed to support OST leaders to reflect on, and plan for, their meaningful engagement in professional development.
By Melina O'Grady, Communities of Practice Facilitator
This week at our Communities of Practice for Front Line youth workers, we highlighted and discussed a number of influential African-American leaders. Here are a few of the women and men that inspired our discussion.