October 2014

We know that the more engaged young people are in afterschool and expanded learning programming and the more they participate, the more they benefit. We also know that having high-quality staff in your afterschool program is critical to keeping young people engaged. So, how do you ensure you have qualified and skilled staff members? Staff development! 

There are four overarching types of professional development to think about when planning for staff development:

  • Staff Orientation – Often at the beginning of the year, may include mandated reporter training, CPR, program policies and procedures, activity planning
  • Periodic Booster Sessions – Ongoing sessions with staff in the program, focusing on topics of interest
  • Topical Training Sessions – May be provided by internal or external staff, with a focus on basic information for new staff or advanced information for more experienced staff
  • External Professional Development – Sending staff to training sessions outside of the program—for example, local, state, regional, or national conferences and other workshop sessions

When planning staff development for the year, program leaders should take into account the needs and interests of their staff—getting input from the staff can be done through weekly staff meetings, informally through passing conversation, or more formally through a survey. For a survey template, check out Beyond the Bell’s Staff Training Survey (Tool 24), which you can use as is or modify to fit your program.

When planning for staff development, you’ll want to think about the timing of the training. Since staff are working during the late afternoon and evening hours, holding a training session after programming might not always be realistic. It is sometimes necessary to hold training sessions on a Saturday or during program breaks. Mixing up the days and times for sessions will make it easier for staff to attend at least some of them. 

How are you engaging staff in their professional development? How do you include volunteer staff?