Wednesday, February 28, 2007

New Day for Learning, Part 2 - Professionalism

As promised, I have given a little more attention to the New Day for Learning report. The task force identified a number of steps that will lead to an education system that uses the full learning day. Many of these steps will require more attention to the people who teach our children, not just full-time classroom professionals but also the community-based staff, volunteers, and many others. The report rightly calls for the use of "research-based knowledge on how students learn best." However, connecting this knowledge to individuals who may not be professional educators is not straightforward. Those of us working with after-school need to be deliberate about including the research in our work and making it accessible to ALL of the people who work with children.

The report recognizes that part of this effort involves including after-school staff in decisions:
"We see communities of policymakers, institutions, and individuals, working together to make sure all students have optimum opportunities to learn and grow into responsible citizens. Up to now, policymaking around how children use their learning time has been mostly schoolbased [sic]. Yet, the majority of time available for learning occurs outside of the traditional school day."
There are many approaches to supporting after-school staff and making the field more professional. The Center for After-School Excellence at The After-School Corporation (where I sit) is one example.

As this effort to connect the traditional school day with the whole day of student learning, the Coalition for Science After School will work to connect the potential of STEM learning with the existing capacities of after-school staff.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Exended Days in Massachusetts

There is an article on CNN this week about the Massachusetts project to extend the school day. There seem to be two different approaches to extending learning time for students - a longer school day or increased investment in community-based after-school. It seems likely that the solution is somewhere in between, depending on the needs of the community, funds available, and many other factors. Either way, I hope students get to explore new and exciting ideas in the extra time that is available and that test preparation does not dominate.

P.S. I am going to try and blog more regularly starting... NOW!