Schools to Watch

Authored by: Jan Van Der Beek, Afterschool Program Coordinator, Kearns Jr. High

Last week, the Kearns Jr. High Afterschool Program had the opportunity to host over 40 educators from around the state of Utah as part of the Schools to Watch program.

“Developmental Responsiveness” was the area they chose to focus on and what we are doing at Kearns Jr. High in regards to this area. My presentation focused on how we are addressing developmental responsiveness in our Afterschool Program. It caused me to really reflect on what it is we actually do in our program to help our students on a daily basis.

The first thing that came to mind was our daily Tutor Lab, where students come to receive homework help. Recently, we changed the whole format of Tutor Lab to better meet the needs of our students. At the beginning of the year, we had everyone meeting at the library so that teachers and tutors would walk around and ask the students what they needed help on. Some kids would ask for help, but others would just sit and do nothing—We were getting a lot more of the latter.

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We decided to change the whole format so that every student was at the very least doing some sort of English or Math every day. We now have multiple English and Math teachers taking groups of students to their classrooms with one of our Afterschool staff as an extra tutor. Tutor Lab now looks a lot more like the regular school day. Students can still get help in other classes, but if they don’t have homework than  brushing up on their Math and English are the obvious choices.

Students need structure, and they are now learning much better study and homework habits. It’s always a good practice to look at ways to improve the way we do things. It takes a little work to adapt, but it is well worth it when you get much better results. Because of our visit from Schools to Watch, I’m now looking at all the classes we offer in my program and doing my best to make sure that what we are approaching things in a way that helps our students develop good life habits.

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